Check Wait Times With SONAR.

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Did you know? You can track the average number of minutes a truck spends waiting to load or unload?

What is it?

Wait Time (WAIT, WAITRR) – Wait time is a measure of the average number of minutes a truck spends at a shipper or receiver location to load or unload. 

In addition to wait time by city (such as WAIT.CHI for wait times in Chicago), wait times can be seen for ports (such as WAIT.USLAX for the Port of Los Angeles), air cargo facilities (WAIT.KLAX for Los Angeles International Airport), railroad ramps (WAITRR.CHI for railroad wait times within the Chicago metro area) and for certain industry verticals (such as WAIT.AUTOMAN for automobile manufacturers).   

Average Wait Time in Minutes in the Los Angeles Metro Area (Seasonality View)

In the seasonality chart above, SONAR users can see the average time that a truckload carrier must wait for its trucks to be loaded or unloaded in metro Los Angeles. The seasonality view is important in this instance because wait times are typically elevated during the fall peak shipping season.

Who needs it?

Analysts: Wait times can be used as an indicator for whether the freight market in a particular location is tight or loose. Low wait times, in general, suggest that there are fewer carriers calling on shippers/receivers and volumes are low. Conversely, elevated wait times suggest that capacity may be tight. However, elevated wait times also indicate that carriers are not using their equipment productively, which is a negative indicator for carriers’ margins and return on invested capital.  

Carriers: Of all stakeholders, wait times are the most critical for the asset-heavy carriers. The time that a carrier spends waiting for equipment to be loaded or unloaded is time that is taken away from productively utilizing that equipment on the highway. Since most truckload carriers’ revenue is mileage-based, wait time equates to lost revenue and lost productivity. In addition, elevated wait times mean that drivers are not driving a satisfactory number of miles, which is one of the biggest factors that drivers consider when leaving a carrier to drive for another carrier. Therefore, when deciding whether to accept or reject a load into a particular location, carriers should consider wait times for unloading and loading in that location in addition to other factors, such as the volume of freight coming out of the location.  

Brokers: Brokers are less concerned with wait times than carriers since it’s not their equipment that is being underutilized when wait times are elevated. But, wait times are still an important factor in evaluating the truckload market in a particular city. Therefore, brokers can use wait times in negotiations with carriers (using low wait times to argue that carrier capacity is loose in a market or the destination city is attractive) or with shippers (arguing for higher rates from shippers when wait times are elevated).    

Shippers: Shippers should look at the wait times at ports, air cargo facilities and railroad ramps that are relevant to their supply chains to gain insight into service levels and whether their shipments are likely to be delayed. Elevated wait times or shipping through a location with a history of elevated wait times for that time of year (e.g., L.A. in the fall) may mean that shippers need to allow extra time or re-route freight. In addition, evaluating wait times can help shippers benchmark the wait times at their facilities against the industry to avoid or help negotiate demurrage charges. 

What can I do with it?

Using this data, you are able to see a monthly measure of the average number of minutes a truck spends at a shipper or receiver location to load or unload. This data can be shown for metro areas overall, ports within a city, airport air cargo facilities within a city, or railroad ramps within a city. Here are a few examples:

WAIT.USA –  Average wait time in minutes for the country as a whole. 

WAIT.CHI –  Average wait time in minutes for the Chicago metro area. 

WAITRR.CHI –  Average detention time at rail ramps in the Chicago metro area. 

WAIT.USLAX –  Average detention time at the Port of Los Angeles. (Note: the port code in this ticker, USLAX, is the same that is used in the ICSTM ticker, which displays maritime import shipments by port.)

WAIT.KLAX –  Average wait time in minutes at Los Angeles International Airport.

Show me how!

1) Click wait time by major market to view a tree map of wait times broken down by many of the largest freight markets in the country. Declining (or negative) wait times are in green while rising (or positive) wait times are in red, indicating a carrier is stopped for a longer period. 

2) In the tree map above, click on the segment of most interest for added detail, such as Los Angeles in the example below. 

3) Alternatively, in the “Enter Symbol” box, type “WAIT” followed by an airport code to view a smaller market such as WAIT.CHA for Chattanooga.

Pro Tip: For carriers deciding whether to accept or reject tendered loads, use WAIT on the destination city, in addition to OTRI, OTVI, OTLT, and HAUL to help you decide whether that is an attractive city to send your trucks to.