By Robert Brothers, McLeod Software Customer Advocate
Dispatching can be a risky business. You want to match a load with a driver, but do you have the right driver? There are a lot of factors that come into play. You have to look at the driver’s progress with his current load and determine when he’ll be free and where he’ll be at that time. Then you have to calculate the driving time needed to get to the next load’s pickup point, the driving time for hauling the load, and loading and unloading time.
Then comes the hard part. You have to match all of these times against the driver’s available hours of service (HOS). Make a mistake in your calculations and you may assign the load to a driver whose HOS limitations end up forcing him to take a long break before delivering the load. If this happens, and he misses the delivery window, you’ve got a service failure on your hands.
How It Works
Driver Feasibility is the new feature in LoadMaster that helps you manage all of this easily and quickly. Here’s how it works. Say that you’ve got a pre-assignment up on your load planning screen in LoadMaster. You start by clicking on the “Find Near” button, which brings up the drivers closest to the load’s origin. Select a driver from the list and then click on the “Feasibility” command.
LoadMaster instantly evaluates whether or not it’s feasible for this driver to haul this load. The system looks at the current load, notes the truck’s current location and expected delivery time, and ensures that there are no other planned activities that would make that driver unavailable. Then it looks at the pre-assignment and calculates times for driving empty, loading, hauling the load, fueling, breaks, and unloading. It matches all of these times to HOS data collected by electronic HOS reporting in mobile comm units and decides if the driver has the needed available hours to make the delivery on time. Once you’ve found your driver, you can click the “Pre-assign” button and you’re good to go.
Given that pre-assignments are often made many hours in advance, you may want to check back later to ensure that the driver you chose is still in good shape to take the load. Maybe he’s been delayed and no longer can meet the schedule. You can check his feasibility again by clicking the “Preplan Feasible” button.
All of these calculations can be viewed in a timeline display that mimics the appearance of a driver’s log. The timeline shows the loading and unloading time, driving time, and break time that LoadMaster is projecting for this load. Maybe the system says a particular driver isn’t feasible, but when you examine the timeline, you decide that the driving time was too high. You can go ahead and assign the load to this driver. In this case, a box will come up asking for a comment. You can explain why you’re choosing this driver, and the comment will be stored in the order history record.
A Powerful Training Tool
Experienced dispatchers have learned to juggle all of these variables, but even the best can make mistakes, and there’s always the issue of training new personnel. Driver Feasibility helps ensure that new people learn all of the factors that must be considered when choosing a driver for a load. All of the evaluations and calculations involved are on view, so it’s easy to gain a clear understanding of the full picture.
Dispatching may still be a risky business at times, but we hope that Driver Feasibility is one more way that McLeod Software is helping LoadMaster users minimize that risk.