Once you have dispatched an Order and the shipment is ready to hit the road, there are two possibilities. In an ideal world, everything will go exactly as planned: your third-party carrier or company driver will pick up the shipment exactly on time, drive exactly the route you had planned, and deliver the goods precisely when and where the customer wanted them.
In the real world, though, this doesn't always happen – roads are closed, breakdowns occur, pick-up windows change, customers make last-minute changes to delivery details – the possibilities are endless. As a Dispatcher, responding to these changes is just part of the job. Tailwind can help make this a little bit easier by allowing you to track the status of each Dispatch, and make changes on the fly, so that you always have an accurate picture of your dispatches.
Monitoring The Dispatches List
The Dispatches list is the easiest way to get a quick overview of all the dispatches in your system. Like all of our list views, you can use the 'Active Columns' button on the bottom right to choose which information gets displayed. You can also use the 'Dispatch Status' buttons along the top of the list to quickly toggle which Dispatches get displayed, based on their current status.
Getting your Dispatches list set up to show the information you want will make it much easier to get a quick overview of the various dispatches you have on the go. But keeping those individual Dispatches up to date is also crucial – having a big list of Dispatch information isn't very useful, if half of that information is no longer accurate!
The Dispatches List - Quick Actions
While most in-depth activities related to Dispatches will require that you open the individual dispatch record using the button, there are also a small number of actions available directly from the Dispatch list. Clicking on the button will display a menu of possible actions, including Completing the dispatch and several Print options. These allow you to quickly complete a Dispatch or print a related document without needing to open a whole new page.
The Route Plan
Most of the work you are likely to do with an active Dispatch will center around the Route Plan, which shows the actual Locations the shipment is moving to and from. The Route Plan section appears just below the basic Dispatch information once you have opened an individual Dispatch record.
The 'Arrived' and 'Departed' columns on the Route Plan provide a basic way of tracking the status of your Dispatch, allowing you to follow the carrier step-by-step through each Location. While this sort of detailed tracking may seem unnecessary for simple dispatches, it can be much more useful for longer or more complicated routes with multiple pick-ups or deliveries.
Most importantly, an Order will not be able to move over to the Invoice/Administration side of Tailwind unless all its associated Dispatches are flagged as fully delivered. So even if you decide against tracking each and every arrival and departure, you will need to flag the final Location on the route plan once the delivery has been made.
Toggling any of the 'arrived' or 'departed' flags will automatically mark all the flags prior to it in the route plan as completed.
Editing the Schedule
Sometimes a carrier is unavoidably delayed. Sometimes the customer needs the shipment to arrive earlier than they originally thought — or later. By editing the Route Plan, you can keep on top of these changes, and also create a record of when the shipments were actually picked up and delivered.
To edit the arrival/departure time for a particular Location on the Route Plan, click on the 'Segment' button of the corresponding Location. This will bring up the Location in the 'Segment Details' panel to the right of the Route Plan. You can then change the date and time of both the arrival and departure from that Location. To confirm the changes, click on the 'Save' button at the bottom of the Details section.
Note that changes to the schedule in the Dispatch are not the same as changing the pick-up and delivery times in the Shipment itself — this allows you to track what actually happened (the Dispatch) separately from what was originally planned (the Shipment/Order), which can be useful for later review.
To add a new Location to an existing Dispatch, click the 'Add Location' button at the bottom of the Route Plan. This will bring up a list of all the Locations in your database — if necessary, you can click on the 'Create Location' button to create a new Location before adding it by clicking on the next to the Location you want to add. You will then be prompted to either add another Location or return to the Dispatch.
Adding a new Location can be handy for a number of reasons. If a road closure or traffic issue has required a major detour that you want to track, Locations can be used to reflect that; if there was an accident or truck breakdown, you may want to add the specific Location where it occurred for auditing purposes. You may also want to add specific Border Crossings as Locations.
Keep in mind, however, that these Locations are not pick-up or drop-off points. Adding picks and drops should be handled by adding Shipments to the Dispatch or Order.
When you first dispatched the Order, you probably added a Bill to your Expenses related to the carrier responsible for moving the load, or the company driver you assigned to the route. However, additional expenses sometimes crop up during the course of a dispatch, which you will want to record on the Dispatch record. If you are a Broker, some or all of these will arrive as part of the invoice from your chosen Carrier — so it may make sense to simply wait until that arrives, before adding/modifying the existing amounts. In other cases, though, you may want to update the Dispatch on the fly to track expected costs, or to account for costs you are paying separately from the Carrier.
If you are a carrier yourself, you can use this to track expenses that crop up as part of the regular Dispatch, so that you can then include them (or not) in the final Invoice you send out to your customer.
Either way, if the new expense is carrier-related you will want to add it as a Payable Charge on the existing Vendor Bill. Click on the next to the existing Bill. You can then click on the 'Payable Charges' tab and add a new payable charge.
If the new expense is not associated with the same Vendor or Personnel as your existing expenses, you will need to click the 'Add Bill' button on the Dispatch, then create a new Bill for the expense in question.
Switches and Drops
Sometimes a Shipment takes a more complicated route — planned or otherwise — before it reaches its final destination. Switches and Drops are both ways of completing a current Dispatch without actually showing the Shipment itself as fully delivered.
If, for example, the first Carrier is going to deliver the load to a company dock before it is picked up by a second Carrier, you would use a Switch to transfer the shipment onto a new Dispatch.
If the Shipment is being delivered to an intermediary destination, but not immediately picked up by a new carrier — for example, if it needs to wait in a bonded warehouse before it can be picked up later — then you should use a Drop instead.
For more details on Switches and Drops, check out our advanced Dispatching article.