A Day in the Life of a Truck Dispatcher
What do truck dispatchers do? A truck dispatcher is like the heart beat of a trucking company. Their role is vital to gather all of the information needed to match loads with drivers. They funnel information to all interested parties in the movement of goods: the customers, the drivers and their employers (the truck owners). Like a well-oiled machine, they keep everything running smoothly and everyone happy.
A truck dispatcher’s days are a constant thrum of activity that include:
- planning loads that make the most logistical sense while taking into consideration the customer’s time frame requirements
- dispatching drivers while balancing the driver’s needs (personal and financial) with the company’s needs in order to move freight within the contractual obligations for the customer
- reacting in real time as the needs of the customer, driver, or company change
- relaying information to management
At any one time, a dispatcher can be looking at three or more screens to manage their loads. That’s why it’s vital that any technology they use assists them in managing all of this activity seamlessly.
Load planning is critical to the success of the company. Dispatchers need to make the best decisions for all involved. Technology should assist in planning and building the best possible loads, helping to remove stress from the dispatcher.
After a load has been planned, truck dispatchers have to match the load with a driver. There are a number of factors he must consider before assigning a load.
- Driver logistics: selecting a driver that has the least amount of deadhead miles to the pick up location.
- Load requirements: ensuring the driver has the correct trailer equipment for the load requirements.
- Driver hours of service: checking if the driver’s log hours are enough to pick up and/or deliver based on appointment times or pickup/delivery window times.
- Driver home time: checking to make sure when the driver needs to be home.
- Company internal procedures: follow load assignment processes, i.e. unionized drivers, loads must be offered by seniority or lane bids.
- Driver qualifications/certifications: assign drivers who meet the load requirements, ie TWIC card, FAST card, dangerous goods training, etc.
Here are some of the other things truck dispatchers have to handle during their day*:
- Coordinate and manage the most efficient loads to remain cost-effective as a company, combining shipments based on their routes and timeline to minimize how many trucks and drivers are out.
- Keep records, monitoring drivers’ daily logs and monitor equipment availability.
- Keep tabs on the weather at all drivers’ locations to be able to flag potential issues.
- Serve as a point of contact to balance drivers’ health and safety with customer requirements.
- Determine the best delivery methods and negotiate rates directly with vendors and customers, and get the necessary documents and permits that drivers will need when shipping chemicals, livestock, hazardous, perishable or oversize.
*Source: Balance Careers