Return to all articles

6 min read

Your docks are the gateway between the outside world and your warehouse/production facilities, however, they’re also the bottleneck if you are not managing this process properly.


8:00 AM

Peak time at a busy warehouse. Frustration. Both for the drivers waiting in line and the over-stressed warehouse workers struggling to get trucks (un-)loaded asap.

11:00 AM

The first wave of incoming trucks has passed. Warehouse workers shift into recovery mode as the waiting queues have resolved and the docks become idle. Yes, that’s right, idle.

15:00 PM

Getting ready for the second wave of incoming trucks - hold on, brace yourselves and let’s hope we don’t have to work overtime again.

This is a typical warehouse operation without Time Slot Booking. And it’s perfectly normal that this happens. Each carrier is optimizing for its own operations and if the driver can load early in the morning, he might have time left for a second trip that day. (Thin margins you know.)

But most carriers do this. They all show up early in the morning and join the queue.

So what happens?

They come even earlier...

* Does this sound familiar to you? Read on.
* Already have a slot booking solution in place? Move on to ‘Synchronized Time Slot Booking’ 

Time Slot Booking: Spread the load

So, if you’re reading this, you probably don’t have a Time Slot Booking solution. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The last couple of months we’ve seen an increasing demand for technology that can help shippers digitalize their logistics operations.

Or, in other words:
people are searching for tools
to make their life easier.

Not only for the warehouse / yard operations, but also for managing transportation.

Your docks are the gateway between the outside world and your warehouse/production facilities. But they’re also often a bottleneck. You can have a great MRP process running, but if inbound raw materials or components are delayed, either in-transit or at your yard, this still might jeopardize your production process.

Same applies for your planned outbound shipments. You’ve carefully selected the right carrier, taking into account costs, service level and lead times. Only to realize that the truck didn’t load the goods on time because of huge delays at the ramps. Your shipment is already delayed before it was even loaded.

Not using a Time Slot Booking solution leads to:

- inefficiency in the warehouse, leading to high operation costs - trucks queuing at your yard - leading to frustrated drivers
- excessive waiting time costs - stressed and overworked workers
- delays in (un-)loading, potentially jeopardizing customer deliveries. - delays in (un-)loading, potentially halting production lines.


So how can you bring peace and quiet to your yard and warehouse operations? How can you turn your docks into well-oiled machines where trucks can dock shortly after they’ve arrived?

The key for equalizing the (un-)load peaks at your warehouse is to:

  • Define your maximum capacity (number of docks, available warehouse workers, opening hours, …)

  • Divide dock availability into bookable time slots

  • And let carriers book available slots at their own convenience using a self-service portal

It’s that simple.

As a consumer, we do this every day (if we aren’t in lock-down). We book an appointment at the dentist, book a table at our favorite restaurant, schedule an appointment at the garage, …. So why not apply the same process for your docks? It’s all about balancing available capacity and incoming trucks.

Time Slot Booking is an essential aid in combating these challenges. But classic Time Slot Booking solutions are static. They operate in the assumption that nothing-will-go-wrong. But the reality is that exceptions are the rule.

Please welcome: Synchronized Time Slot Booking.

SYNCHRONIZED Time Slot Booking: Anticipate what’s (not) coming

Good, you’re already convinced of the value a Time Slot Booking solution can bring to your operations. (And no, Excel is not a time slot booking system)

Time Slot Booking is a planning tool for your docks. You align demand from the carriers with your available resources, leading to a perfect (un-)loading sequence for each load and truck.

But the reality is that your plan is outdated
the moment the first truck leaves the warehouse,
or even before that.

There are a million reasons why this could happen, traffic congestion, truck breakdowns, the driver took the wrong route, goods aren’t ready yet to be loaded, just to name a few.

To untap the true potential of Time Slot Booking, you need to make it synchronized, real-time. You need to monitor what is happening, identify exceptions and take action so that small issues don’t become big problems.

What kind of actions? Well, in an ideal world, if a driver is running late for his 10 o’clock appointment, you would want to switch this slot with a driver that has arrived early, avoiding the slot from going to waste.

So making your Time Slot Booking synchronized is all about continuously aligning the reality with what you’ve planned. It’s about seeing what’s (not) coming and adapt accordingly.

But how do you make your Time Slot Booking synchronized, you might ask. This is where the real-time visibility data comes into play. Visibility has been a trending topic the past year, but it’s only now that we’re beginning to see its full potential. I mean, visibility as such is great, you see where a shipment is, but the true value comes when you incorporate this kind of data in your operational systems and make it actionable.

In other words: just having the ETA of a truck
doesn’t bring you that much value.

However, to have this real-time ETA, compare it with the appointed Time Slot, flag it when it’s at risk, and proactively inform the warehouse manager, all within seconds. This is a perfect example of where the true potential lies of real-time visibility.

It’s about adding context and intelligence to jobs already done today. And this is exactly what technology is good at: making sense of and correlating large amounts of data and events, in a split second, and serving the user new insights. That’s right, technology is serving the people, making their jobs easier, less stressful, and make them thrive at what they do.

Ok, I’m getting a bit too excited here on the tech side, but you catch my drift I believe.

The elephant in the room: Carrier-pay model

I’ve been talking about this in the past - but I can’t resist the urge to emphasize this topic again, as I honestly believe it’s wrong by design: the carrier pay model.

Carrier pay - a broken model

Why on earth should a carrier pay a transactional fee every time they need to (un-)load at your warehouse. I’m still trying to find a good analogy - but haven’t been able to find one. (if you do, please drop me an email at

The benefits of organizing and optimizing your docks don’t have to come at the expense of making your carrier’s life miserable. You don’t become ‘shipper of choice’ by charging your carriers for the additional services they deliver.

Is it for me?

So, is Time Slot Booking something for you? Well, if you have (un-)loading docks, or other types of (un-)loading facilities and want to get rid of your spreadsheets, feel free to give it a try: you can start your 1-month free trial here.

Let's go on a journey, together

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive expert insights, trends, and valuable content that will help you to redefine the way you move freight.