7 Ways to Manage Schedule Better in Trucking Business

Management is all about working around all the factors and circumstances to get a particular task done.Trucking jobs work around variable factors such as traffic, dispatch and load/unloading delays, truck maintenance issues, road mishaps, weather changes and more. Time and schedule management come handy here. When time management is ignored, productivity reduces and precious business hours are lost. Whether you need to load your truck or grab a bite, some shut-eye time management is of the essence. This would ensure productivity both at home and at work.

Managing schedule helps in gaining profit and productivity. Any driver can only drive so far so fast and only so many hours. It might be a challenging job, but there are definite ways to tackle all the challenges. Truckers can be more efficient just by knowing ways to manage their schedule better.

Why Follow Schedules?

It is impossible to follow a strict time schedule without first understanding why a schedule has to be followed. There are many incentives of managing time.

More Miles More Money

Companies that pay by the mile or by the hour use salaries to bring in the habit of time management for the drivers. More miles mean more money and more incentives for the drivers. Drivers with safe and consequent on-time or early deliveries are given rewards and incentives to encourage more drivers to be efficient with time.

Reputation

Reputation is a trucker’s jewel. Class A truck drivers with a clean and efficient working record are very highly paid. On-time deliveries and compliance with schedules ensure good rapport with the employer as well as customer.

Adequate Rest

Sleeping is essential for a human body. The people who sleep well always perform well. It’s necessary for truckers to follow deadlines and deliver on time, but not at the cost of their own well being. Planning can help truck drivers to find their nap times and rest windows, and still deliver ahead of time.

Stress-Free Job

Parking is a big issue for any trucker. Finding the perfect parking spot at truck stops is every trucker’s dream. By parking early, they don’t have to waste any extra minute behind the wheel in search of a parking spot. Also, getting stuck in traffic can be really annoying for a truck driver. By working around traffic, truckers can not only get rid of the stress caused by traffic, but also save precious time.

No Waiting Time

Working ahead of schedule, knowing the load location and avoiding traffic are some ways in which truck drivers can avoid waiting times. The time spent behind the wheel waiting is time wasted. In the same time, a trucker can cover more miles and make more money. Planning and time management are the keys to making the best of the time on hand.

Good Quality Family Time

On-the-road truck drivers have a different lifestyle. They find their home away from home in their truck’s cabin. But who can deny the comfort of the home and thrill of being with family. With good schedule management skills, truckers can ensure good quality stress-free family time.

Ways For Better Schedule Management

Truckers live a difficult life. Schedules make their life and work easier. Now that we know the importance of a schedule in a trucker’s life, let’s look at some ways to manage it better.

1. Start Early

It’s always good to have extra time on hand. Last-minute executions are never smooth. Decide the stops you want to stop at, the route you want to take, the miles you want to cover, etc. But always remember that you will have to adapt to the changing circumstances.

Weathered truckers know that starting early at 2 A.M. or 3 A. M. has its perks. If you start early, you can cover your day’s miles earlier than other truckers and park at the truck stops by 6 P.M. There is no time wasted looking out for a parking spot at the truck stop, and there’s time to handle any delays and emergencies that might occur.

Also, if you load and unload your cargo ahead of schedule, it will leave you less stressed as you know that you have plenty of time to finish the route in case of any unexpected traffic jams or on-the-road emergencies.

2. Avoid Heavy Traffic

Plan ahead and schedule your runs around the traffic. For example, if you are going through a metropolitan city like Philadelphia or New York City, you might want to plan your travel such that you avoid the city during morning and evening rush hours. You still might not get out smooth, but you can ensure that you spend minimum possible time stuck in traffic.

Driving through jammed roads is not an easy task. It eats away all the patience and coolness and leaves behind a tired depressed soul longing for some speed and space. Traffic eats up fuel as well as time. Too much braking and no speed can heat up the engine and cause varied kinds of rig problems. Truck drivers must find routes with smoother and easy traffic and keep tracking their route so as to avoid heavy traffic zones on their way ahead. It’s a good idea to wait for the traffic to clear up by stopping at a rest stop instead of getting stuck in the traffic.

3. On-Time Accurate Feedback

Giving accurate information while communicating with the employer, customer, managers and planners is the first factor in time management. Everyone would lose time when information is not updated or miscommunicated. Everyone wants a win-win situation. In order to achieve such a situation, highly accurate information has to be provided to and by all the people involved. i.e logistics, dispatchers, customers etc. where punctuality and timely delivery is expected.

Trucking softwares are very useful when it comes to maintaining checklists and project management. The use of softwares makes it easy for everyone to convey accurate information on time. Communication is the key to success of any trucking operation. Without information of the truck and cargo, employers and customers get stranded. Similarly, without dispatch schedules, loading and unloading locations, and customer information, the trucker gets stuck on the road.

4. Use GPS

Driving goes hand in hand with exploring the earth. The best tool for that purpose is provided by technology and we call it GPS, which stands for Global Positioning System. Knowing one’s location and the ways to reach the destination without anyone’s help is every trucker’s efficiency tool.

GPS tracking systems make it easy to track shipments from the home office and giving over-the-road drivers the information related to the estimated time of arrival and best routes. Advanced GPS systems designed for the trucking industry can give drivers information related to current traffic conditions, changing speed limits, police presence, construction detours, and restricted roads.

Use your GPS so that you can be more efficient with your miles and your time.

5. Truck maintenance

Trucks cannot be overused and expected to perform high all the time. Getting proper timely maintenance ensures that the wear and tear of the truck doesn’t exceed the allowed limit. There shouldn’t be a compromise in timely scheduled maintenance. And while the truck is in the shop, plan ahead and rest. By doing this, you will be ready too when your truck gets ready.

Breakdowns on the road are normal. Sometime or the other things will go wrong. There will be delays and troubles. The customers, employer, dispatchers, and the drivers will all get out of the schedule. Repairs can take longer depending on the time and distance from nearest mechanic. When your truck breaks down, you should be ready and willing to take the freight in another truck to the destination if necessary to reach the destination with the cargo on time. Productivity has to be creative too.

6. Pace Yourself

While you should be proud if you finish your work ahead of time, listen to your body and take rest when needed. Truck drivers must not exhaust themselves. Performance goes parallel to maintenance. If a truck can fail when not attended to, so can the human body. It’s important for truckers to plan their rest time as well as rest breaks when they start their day. Fueling up the body with the right foods is also essential. Good health means good performance, and a good night’s sleep is essential for good health.

Starting early and parking early helps in getting proper rest as you are always ahead of schedule. Low stress levels ensure better sleep. Truckers must use health tracking equipment such as Fitbit watches or Oura rings to monitor their health at all times.

It’s a good practice to uncoil after the day by connecting with family and friends before going to bed. Happy heart and satisfying sleep increase a trucker’s driving efficiency and improve his performance.

7. While at Home

Having a plan in place prior to your arrival at home can only make things smoother for you and your family. Before going on a trip, cross off those little items you’ve been trying to get to, or that you know will be an inevitable request from your spouse or loved one when you get home.

This is your time to be with your family and to rest. You must have an “at home” mentality when you are at your house. Successful time management is one of the strongest characteristics of becoming successful in an owner-operator truck driving job. You have many moving parts at all times. Make sure you are prepared for every circumstance, good or bad. Know what to expect, know the consequences of your decisions and know that with the right time management skills, you will succeed.

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