How to Reduce Detention, Demurrage, and Dwell

Written by Kimberly Lovell
Find me on:
3 minute read


Let me describe a situation that might be all too familiar.

You invest in some Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and other software to help understand your sales activity and financial numbers. You also studied the market and trends.

You planned and strategized to put what you believed was the right amount of product, of the right type, in the right place at the right time. You found the suppliers for the products or parts, signed contracts with clear expectations, wrote orders that were carefully coordinated to achieve your goals, and then kept an eye on progress to assure everything arrived as planned.

And then you couldn’t access the product because it was stuck in a container somewhere between the port and you. Roughly, 98% of what needed to happen to drive a global supply chain happened, but something went wrong in that “final mile.”

And to add insult to injury, you got a bill from the steamship line because you didn’t get the container out in time or back in time – a cut directly to the margin.

We know – we hear it from you and companies like you all the time.

It is frustrating and seems almost unfair. You know the rules when you sign the contracts, but you also don’t expect all the challenges that meet you along the way. You want three containers per day to deliver, but 25 arrived on one ship this week, and the math does not work out.

You cannot “see” what is in each container, so you end up unloading the one full of product you have plenty of, but cannot find the one with the priority product to keep the line running or fill a critical customer order. And containers just keep dwelling while the storage bills add up.

There is a way out of this. It is not buying over-hyped software that you end up hiring more people to operate and manage. That is a common marketing trap – the myth that software alone is the answer.

The right answer is a managed solution, backed by people and process.

When you buy software, there is an assumed process that often does not fit your variables. They are always happy to sell you consulting to program your way out of it.

Nevertheless, while you keep writing checks for that, you still have to provide the people to learn the software and operate it. And then who chases down the exceptions that the software shows you or the missing data from the provider that the software assumes will just show up? You do.

Expeditors has something called Delivery Management. It comes with software, but it is not just software. It starts with people who know logistics and know how to manage around disruptions. It comes with people who know how to collect data from multiple logistics partners on time and correctly – in fact, a core competence since its founding. And it works.

It starts with tracking the containers when they first depart the other side of the world. We know data from the carriers can be unclear, so we rely on other sources to supplement their data and leverage machine learning to calculate much better arrival dates. While that cargo is in transit, we work with you to understand delivery priorities. We use our technology to let you or your truckers make appointments and specific delivery plans.

We can connect to those truckers to gather milestone data that drives exception monitoring and scorecards. And, of course, we calculate and manage against the two critical deadlines that avoid cost – last free day at the terminal and last free day for detention (per diem, empty return, etc.) We balance all these factors with Delivery Management and clear visibility for our customers to keep storage costs at a minimum.

We cannot control how fast your facility unloads them, but we can tell you that the facility is at risk of incurring storage before it happens. You can decide if it warrants the extra cost, but at least the control is back in your hands. We cannot control if your truckers can follow directions, but we can give you the data to evaluate them on more than just price.

One way or another, you have to manage all these variables – free days, truckers, unloading facilities, disruptions, priorities, schedules, contracts – to avoid unnecessary dwell and storage costs, while maintaining your supply chain. If you need help, give us a call.

Contact us to learn more about our Delivery Management solutions

Blog was originally posted on December 5, 2022 7 AM

Topics: Global, Logistics, Network design, Order Management

Kimberly Lovell

Written by Kimberly Lovell

Since her start in the logistics industry in 2009, Kimberly has learned from and led product, regional, and project development teams. As Director of the Core Innovation program, she is part of a team chartered to research and develop innovative ideas into sustainable and scalable products, services, or processes that enhance Expeditors’ core business model. The Core Innovation team enables creativity and value by connecting ideas across our global network to the research and resources required to execute meaningful change. Based in our Raleigh-Durham office, Kimberly is passionate about customer-driven innovation and pushing the logistics industry forward.

3 minute read