At the loading dock

Time slot management: get all trucks in a row!

Developments in the automotive industry are fascinating – Daimler and Volvo have led the way. Before deploying a driverless truck fleet though, let’s clean that “mess in the yard” first.

It’s been a year of really interesting developments in the automotive industry. I’d like to focus on fascinating advances and continued optimization rather than disappointing emission test results that got enough press since September.

Of course, I am referring to this year’s tests on autonomous – or driverless – vehicles and ambitious goals in this area by automotive leaders like Daimler and Volvo:

  • May 2015 marked a milestone, when Daimler was granted the first-ever license to operate a self-driven truck on a public highway in the US. Named “Freightliner Inspiration”, this giant of the road can drive independently on open stretches, guided by a combination of GPS, radar, and video cameras. Inspirational indeed, though to date a real human driver must always be onboard to intervene as required and take over once city limits are reached to manually manage the more complicated traffic environments. Read more about Daimler’s Freightliner Inspiration.
  • Looking at my home market in Sweden, Volvo did not fail to impress this year either: as part of the “Drive me” project, they presented a unique system solution in February, for integrating self-driving cars into real traffic. The selection of solution components includes a variety of sensors, cameras, maps, scanners, and radar tools to guide the car. The project is now in its second year and is a collaborative effort between legislators, transport authorities, a major city, and the automotive manufacturer. Its goal is to have customers in 100 self-driving cars on selected roads around Gothenburg by 2017. Find out more about the “Drive me” project by Volvo.

Don’t dream about what the future holds: get ready and clean that mess in your yard!

The ultimate goal in both examples is to improve overall road transportation efficiency, lower emissions, and – very importantly – increase safety records in all markets. I will follow these developments with great interest, and will make sure to share relevant news with you.

In the meanwhile, there is a lot we can do already now with available technology to optimize current road operations as part of logistics improvements. Apart from navigational support on routes and latest tracking solutions for real-time monitoring of goods movements, there is an area very close to all of us that in many cases urgently needs some “cleaning up”: the loading bays – or docks, or ramps – at our own warehouses.

Clearly, there is quite a bit of work to be done to achieve the goals “improving efficiency, lowering emissions, and increasing safety” at today’s loading docks all around. Equipped with latest technology to get us from point A to point B, we still manage to end up in queues at the start and the end of each journey. Picking-up or delivering goods – no-one gets past the docks, and the following issues are just some of the reasons for hold-ups in everyday operations today:

  • Losing time through unplanned truck waiting times
  • Scrambling to manoeuver vehicles in crowded yards
  • Struggling for resources to load or offload unscheduled shipments

Such scenarios are quite unnecessary today, really. There are smart and convenient solutions available that streamline the loading dock operations through integrated time slot management quickly, affordably, and efficiently. 

This involves booking time slots for loading and offloading at available loading docks in a flexible and transparent manner. Often an online access for third parties like freight forwarders and drivers is included to update availability or booked slots in line with market or traffic dynamics. 

Learn more about loading dock scheduling with AEB. 

Please let me know if you would like to find out more about this, or maybe arrange a personal online demo to see such a tool in action – just send me a comment on LinkedIn, or contact my team in Malmö. I look forward to hearing from you!