There are various steps fleet managers can take to reduce operational costs while maximizing efficiency. One way that’s growing in popularity is by reducing trailer dwell time. Trailer dwell time is an important metric in logistics operations, referring to the amount of time a trailer spends at a specific location. In order to decrease trailer dwell time, you need to know how long the dwell time already is. By tracking this metric, fleet managers can gain valuable insights into efficiency and make informed decisions to optimize their operations. Let’s explore three important things that can be learned by tracking trailer dwell time.


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Why You Should Monitor Dwell Time

The most important reason to track dwell time is so you have the tools you need to decrease it. Having high trailer dwell time leads to a number of issues, including high fuel consumption and bottlenecks along the supply chain. By tracking the time that trailers spend at various points in the supply chain, companies can pinpoint areas with prolonged dwell times and take necessary steps to streamline processes and optimize workflows. When you take steps to decrease your dwell time, you’re taking steps to smooth out logistics processes and ensure a positive customer experience.

  • Fuel Consumption

Fuel is one of the highest operational costs involved in logistics operations. Fleet managers are constantly looking for ways to reduce fuel costs, but it’s not always easy. One of the top ways companies have decreased fuel consumption is by optimizing delivery routes. Fleet managers analyze traffic patterns and delivery schedules to determine the most fuel efficient route to send their drivers on. 

There is still an additional way to monitor and further optimize fuel consumption. This is by monitoring trailer dwell time. The data provided by tracking trailer dwell time informs fleet managers of how efficiently they are operating and consuming fuel. Fleet managers can see how long loading and unloading times are to determine if there is excessive fuel consumption. When detention times are three hours longer than they should be, it means that companies are wasting three hours of fuel. Fleet managers can reduce detention time by holding their employees accountable for sticking to their scheduled loading and unloading time, reducing the cost of fuel for overall operations.

  • Asset Utilization

Tracking dwell time allows companies to improve asset utilization by closely monitoring the duration that trailers spend at various locations. This approach allows companies to identify instances where trailers are spending excessive time at specific locations, which may indicate the underutilization of resources. When analyzing dwell time data, transportation companies can make data-driven decisions to optimize asset utilization. For example, if you notice trailers are sitting in your yard unattended for more than a couple months, it may suggest your trailers aren’t being fully utilized. If the data shows that some trailers are being underutilized, you can infer that other trailers are being overutilized. In such cases, companies can take corrective measures by adjusting the scheduling of deliveries to ensure a more even distribution of trailer usage.

By improving asset utilization, transportation companies can maximize their operational efficiency and reduce spending on unnecessary replacements and repairs. Companies who efficiently utilize assets have improved productivity and increased revenue generation by making the most of their existing resources, minimizing idle time and maximizing the output from each asset.

  • Bottlenecks

Companies can easily pinpoint areas where delays occur by monitoring the dwell time of trailers throughout the supply chain. When there are trailers piling up at a specific location, fleet managers are notified of this issue so the situation can be addressed. By analyzing dwell times across different locations or facilities, companies can identify areas with consistently high dwell times and allocate additional resources accordingly. Knowing when to reallocate resources is the best way to reduce bottlenecks and improve overall operational efficiency.

Bottlenecks can happen at any stage of the supply chain for a variety of reasons. Often, bottlenecks go unnoticed by management, leading to a continued decrease in productivity. When there is a clear identification of where the bottleneck is and what caused it to occur, it can be addressed immediately so it doesn’t affect the supply chain again. 

Ways To Utilize the Data Collected From Tracking Dwell Time

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics has become a game-changer in logistics operations, revolutionizing the way companies manage their supply chain. By harnessing the power of data and advanced algorithms, predictive analytics enables fleet managers to forecast future events and plan for any problems that may arise. In logistics operations, predictive analytics helps companies optimize various supply chain functions, including demand forecasting, route optimization, and even predicting maintenance needs. Fleet managers can even analyze historical data to ensure they are efficiently utilizing their trailers. 

Predictive analytics models can improve trailer dwell time by analyzing historical data, taking into account factors such as time of day, day of the week, seasonality, and other relevant variables. By leveraging this data, businesses can forecast the expected dwell time for trailers at various points within the supply chain and at various points of the year. These forecasts help logistics managers allocate resources, plan schedules, and optimize operations ahead of time.

Optimized Scheduling

Fleet managers can use dwell time to monitor the duration that trailers spend at various locations throughout the supply chain. The data they collect at each location helps them to make informed decisions regarding scheduling and resource allocation. By analyzing dwell time patterns, fleet managers can identify areas where trailers consistently experience extended dwell times, indicating potential inefficiencies or bottlenecks in the process. With this information, fleet managers can make adjustments to their scheduling strategies to optimize the utilization of their assets and drivers. For instance, if a particular warehouse consistently has longer dwell times, fleet managers can adjust the arrival and departure times of their trucks to avoid peak congestion hours and streamline loading or unloading operations. This proactive approach allows for better coordination and reduces waiting times, improving overall efficiency.

Contract Negotiations

By monitoring the amount of time that trailers spend at different locations, companies can gather data to support their contract negotiation efforts. Dwell time data provides concrete evidence of the efficiency and reliability of a transportation service provider's operations. When engaging in contract negotiations, companies can leverage dwell time data to demonstrate their ability to meet specific requirements. For example, if a potential client demands timely deliveries, the transportation company can present historical dwell time data as proof of its track record in minimizing delays and ensuring on-time performance. This strengthens their negotiating position and instills confidence in the potential client regarding the reliability of their services.

Additionally, dwell time data can be used as a benchmark to evaluate the performance of different transportation service providers. During contract negotiations, companies can compare the dwell time performance of various providers and select the one that demonstrates the ability to consistently meet or exceed expectations. This approach ensures that the chosen provider aligns with the client's requirements.

How to Track Trailer Dwell Time

The best solution for tracking dwell time is to implement a trailer tracking system. The process involves installing tracking devices on trailers, which utilize location technologies like GPS, to provide real-time location data. The trailer tracker records the trailer's movements and captures arrival and departure times at specific locations. By setting up geofences around facilities, the trailer tracking system notifies managers when a trailer enters or leaves these locations. The system enables companies to track trailers throughout the supply chain, providing visibility and control over their assets. By leveraging the data generated by the trailer tracking solution, companies can maximize efficiency and ensure timely delivery of goods. 

Fleet managers can calculate dwell time by subtracting the departure time from the arrival time, giving an accurate measure of how long the trailer spends at each location. The data collected can then be analyzed to identify patterns, trends, and areas for improvement. With this information, companies can make informed decisions to maximize efficiency. 

You may be thinking to yourself, “I have telematics already, can’t that track my dwell time?” The simple answer is no. Telematics systems are connected to trucks, so if a truck is powered off or a trailer is disconnected from the truck, there is no visibility into a trailer’s location with use of telematics. Now, telematics is still essential to have, but combining your existing system with trailer tracking will enhance logistics visibility in ways that telematics simply aren’t designed or intended to account for. 

Do You Monitor Your Trailer Dwell Time?

Tracking trailer dwell time provides transportation companies with valuable insights that can significantly impact their operations. By monitoring this metric, companies can optimize resource allocation, identify bottlenecks, improve processes, and enhance the overall customer experience. It is crucial for companies with logistics operations to embrace data-driven decision-making and leverage trailer dwell time analysis to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving market. 

Our solution, AirFinder Everywhere, tracks trailers anywhere in the world and monitors trailer dwell time. This asset tracking solution offers robust features to enhance trailer management. By tracking trailer location, movement, and dwell time, companies gain asset visibility to make decisions that will increase supply chain productivity. 

To learn how AirFinder Everywhere can help you improve your logistics operations, book a demo with our team of experts! 

3 Things You Can Learn By Tracking Trailer Dwell Time

Written by Emily Saldivar

Emily Saldivar is a Marketing Specialist for Link Labs and has been with the company since 2020. She has a background in content writing and is furthering the Link Labs mission through social media and other platforms.

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