How the Electronic Bill of Lading Can Reduce Dwell Time in Logistics

With a traditional Bill of Lading (BOL), there’s a lot of waiting around. Drivers wait for the paperwork transfer before picking up a load. They may wait even more if there’s an error or adjustment to the BOL. Oh, and then they also wait to drop one off.
It sucks.
That’s right, sucks. Not just for drivers either. Unnecessarily long dwell times are a pain and a half for stakeholders across the entire supply chain.
An electronic Bill of Lading (eBOL) is a solution that many companies have already adopted for numerous reasons. If you or your stakeholders are still dragging their heels on digitizing shipping processes, here are four reasons why making the switch to eBOL is the right move in the long run.

The Consequences of Dwell Time in Logistics

Dwell time for logistics is a spider web of revenue death. That’s because the supply “chain” is connected in more ways than meets the passing eye. According to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) 2020 Detention Survey Detention Survey, “Motor carriers lose approximately $250.6 million to $302.9 million in net income every year.”
Increased dwell time has the following negative effects:

1. Increased Costs Across the Supply Chain

Long dwell times may indeed be more costly than getting a ticket for loitering. Although there are many reasons why a dwell time may be longer than it should be, associated costs are typically the same for everyone:
1. Demurrage Charges. Once free time for unloading cargo passes, the demurrage charges begin. While from the outside, it may look like this is good for the yard, yard managers know better. Demurrage charges are nothing compared to frustrated carriers and shippers who can’t stay on schedule because there’s no room in the yard for them. This causes bottlenecks and further delays for everyone involved — money down the toilet.
2. Detention Charges. When increased dwell time means the shipper is using the carrier’s equipment past the agreed-upon date, detention charges start to stack up until the equipment is returned to the carrier. If the delay is the fault of the yard due to slow processing times, things could get extra sticky.
3. Per Diem Charges. If there is communication inconsistency for dwell times, some containers may not be returned to the container yard or port on time. This is a type of detention where a fixed rate is paid to the carrier who owns the containers.
Additional fees, such as storage charges, may also apply, driving total costs up even further.

2. Delayed Delivery

When the dwell time is longer than expected, the delivery will inevitably be delayed.
This is usually a breach of contract and could result in monetary loss and the business dropping the carrier. If the yard is at fault for these delays, chaos could ensue and the yard may lose money as the truth comes out about the dwell times.

3. Reduced Efficiency.

No kidding. When things come to a halt, they come to a halt. The entire transportation network could be negatively impacted by unnecessary dwell time, leading to increased lead times, less productivity, and garbage for efficiency.

Use the eBOL To Reduce Dwell Time

A system that integrates an electronic Bill of Lading is a system that purrs like a well-tuned Ferrari.
So, how do you reduce dwell time? You do it by reducing the hiccups in the supply chain with visible, streamlined communication and operations. Manual processes can be automated while some steps can be entirely removed; and everyone will dance with joy because missing, inaccurate, and annoying handwritten BOLs will be a thing of the past. Yard managers should see an increase in productivity while carriers could save up to 1.3% of their current costs.
Updating to eBOLs has four major perks all aimed at reducing dwell time:

1. Faster Processing Times

Old-school paper BOLs can take days or weeks to process. Frankly, nobody has time for that. Within just a few minutes, shipping documents can be processed digitally using yard management software with an integrated eBOL system.

2. Faster Transmission

There is one thing worse than processing a Bill of Lading: waiting to get it.
Since an eBOL uses cloud-based software, transmission is in real time. Those who need to see shipping documents will have access without the wait. Drivers can send and receive an eBOL without leaving their truck, decreasing dwell time and increasing happiness for all.

3. Improved Accuracy

Dirty BOLs (in some cases) are worse than not having a BOL at all. That’s because corrections and adjustments can eat up time and money. Not to mention the time it would take to resubmit a correct BOL. An electronic Bill of Lading provides increased accuracy and easier corrections if necessary.

4. Reduced Physical Storage

Storing BOLs can be a real issue, especially if drivers and shippers are delayed, and the yard must shift through a slog of backlogged paperwork. This can have a massive impact on reducing costs.
According to a report from Safety4Sea, “Switching away from the transfer of physical paper bills of lading could save $6.5 billion in direct costs for stakeholders, enable $30-40 billion in annual global trade growth, transform the customer experience andimprove sustainability.” If the other three reasons aren’t enough, ditching wasteful paper files while increasing your cold, hard (and green) cash should tip the trucking scales in favor of eBOLs.

An Electronic Bill of Lading the Vector Way

TL;DR: Not all eBOLS are created equal. An electronic Bill of Lading solution that is fully integrated with your yard management system translates to end-to-end management and full visibility. That’s why the eBOL within our Vector Yard Management Solution is your best bet for reducing dwell time and associated costs.
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