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"Dispatcher in the Commercial Trucking Industry"

Updated on June 11, 2017
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Driving big rigs and operating heavy equipment filled a large part of the authors life, living and driving in multiple states of the USA.


Transportation Dispatcher

The professional dispatcher for a trucking company has a challenging employment obligation requiring above average intelligence along with concentration, dedication, and dependability in order to fulfill his duties. The acquired skills, include but are not limited to supervisory training, company loyalty, good personal relations, multi-tasking ability, internal and external mental focus, computer knowledge, and performance based goals strategy utilizing transportation based operational information. These make him the key man or woman in a rapidly growing nationwide economy-based transportation industry. In the trucking business, a dispatchers role may include directing local truck hauls in closed container category, open trailer, dry van, flatbed, tanker, log/pole; specialized load in hazmat or oversize permitted load category; or it might be interstate/long haul loads with diversified cargo types. It includes processing data and quickly disseminating the email or phoned in orders for various products to be hauled in accord with each vendors contract. Setting up a schedule and making use of company resources is his main focus, His aim is to get the trucks rolling as quickly as possible.

Ongoing duties of "Dispatcher" range from coordinating the "pick up" of shipper product from the mill or distributor, to managing the roster of company drivers in the actual dispatching of the haul, and in keeping the fleet of trucks moving from shift to shift around the clock. In most cases it includes multiple pick up points and multiple cargos from various shippers. In the logging industry for instance there might be a "contract to haul" that is updated as needs of the shipper change. He keeps the trucks assigned to drivers and has a part in coordinating training assignments for new drivers. He also has to keep every decision of his day in line with company vision and strategy to maximize profits. He has to keep dozens, if not hundreds of CDL licensed drivers busy, assigning daily loads, opening and closing work orders, handling shipping information, time of delivery, invoice numbers and other information posted on a computer interactive spreadsheet that has slots for keeping a flow from the initial dispatch, to managing drivers D.O.T. hours, pay sheets and authorizations, it all starts from his "dispatch".

The number of drivers needed daily for a haul are determined, the type of equipment, required authorizations, the time of pick-up, and other factors all must be set up in advance, so that the shipper and receiver are satisfied, distances, fuel, and highway routing must be understood by the driver, being responsible directly to the dispatcher for the safe transfer of the product. Time and accuracy depend on the dispatchers decisions. Timely and safe delivery of the load is achieved through cooperation of the dispatcher and the driver working together, which starts with good communication. Communication with phone, email, and sometimes radio, involves at least thirty percent of the dispatchers time and skills. Computer data efficiency involves another thirty percent; and the remaining forty percent involves utilizing combined industry knowledge with the ability to focus and apply both business relations and personal relations to specific needs of transportation requirements.

The dispatcher controls a "loop" of logistical information that can become quite confusing except that the system of dispatching is mainly computerized and creates a program that must be kept updated every minute or hour of the day. Adequate to say, once a load is assigned it must be closed or completed in order for the next load to be made. Order numbers are tracked by accounting, as well as invoice tracking that occurs at the shipping point, consequently a well managed system is a compliment to both the dispatcher and to the drivers that are also integral to the overall performance of the company. If performance slacked up for more than a moment, logistical tangles could take place with major repercussions. Much is dependent also on the Operations Manager and Office Manager. Should we also mention the performance of the HR office and the Safety Department in keeping driver and dispatchers jobs at the least levels of stress due to staffing and safety expectations.

But with one ear tuned to the current shippers, and implementing new contracts, whether it be fulfilling quotas in getting the proper trucks and drivers in place for the day, managing the drivers and the trucks and working with breakdowns, training, and certification, managing the data flow, eliminating bottlenecks at the shipper points, delivery points or the actual transporting of the product, which is more in the control spectrum of the dispatcher; diagnosing the cause of the slow-down, finding a "fix" and resolving the issue: Every detail is crucial to successful dispatch performance. Consequently if the wheels on the trucks are kept rolling, then money is being made. If not, well then, how can it be called a transport company? The "Dispatcher" keeps the wheels rolling and the freight on its way!

Basically, professional drivers of today are dependent on their dispatcher for just about everything that happens in their workday. This includes the designated load point, pick-up time, authorization, delivery point, closure of the freight order, and scheduling for the day and weekly runs as well. The dispatcher ultimately is the front face of the freight/transport company and depends on the driver to accept, respond to and complete the order. The relationship of the dispatcher with the driver is critical in that the dispatcher directs the movements of the driver and the freight he is hauling. He is the control point for the entire fleet of trucks in a profit producing transportation industry. The driver subsequently cannot function properly without the support of the dispatch office. Whatever wriggle room he might have is in making decisions once out on the road which could expedite delivery and get the order closed so he can turn around and get another assignment, (hopefully) by the end of the day and be set up for tomorrows duties. One hand feeds another and diligence puts the check in the mail.

IN conclusion, this career choice is usually well compensated and has a certain amount of job satisfaction and career advancement potential. Most of the skill requirements can be developed on the job, but certain business courses such as Public Relations, Computer skill and Business strategy can all be beneficial for the advancement of a career in this field.



This Hub is dedicated to Kenny Boatright (supervisor) and the other dispatchers at Billy Barnes Enterprises.



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