Working with Dispatches

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 an extensive list of Dispatch information isn’t very useful if half of that information is no longer accurate!

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. You can bring up the Route Plan by clicking on the ‘Route Plan’ tab once you have opened a specific Dispatch.

Arrived/Departed Flags

The ‘Arrived’ and ‘Departed’ columns on the Route Plan provide a fundamental 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 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 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 before it in the route plan as completed.

Email Notifications

As an enhancement and for notification to customers, you can have the customer notified when an “Arrived” or “Departed” flag is set on a dispatch allowing you to easily let your customer know when a load has been picked up or delivered.  To activate this, you need to make a configuration setting so let’s head to the Gear Icon in the top right-hand corner and choose “Configuration.” 

Once the configuration menu opens across the top of the screen for you, go to “Operations” and click on “Dispatch”  There, you will see the ability to set email notifications.

You will have three choices:

  1.  All will send email notifications to all customers when one of the Arrived or Departed flags is set
  2.  None – no email notifications will be sent
  3. Specific Customers – when this setting is chosen, you can email notifications go to only specific customers, and once you select “Specific Customers,” you will then want to set it on the individual customer records.  Any customer that you want to get an email notification, open the customer record and under the “More” button (top right-hand corner of the customer record), you will see “Allow Dispatch Updates” – click on that, and that customer is now set up to receive email notifications.

Editing the Schedule

Sometimes a carrier is unavoidably delayed. Sometimes the customer needs the shipment to arrive earlier than they initially thought — or later. By editing the Route Plan, you can keep on top of these changes and record when the shipments were picked up and delivered.

To edit the arrival/departure time for a particular location on the Route Plan, click on the location. This will bring up the Location segment details on the right-hand side 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 Segment’ button.

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.

Adding Locations

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 blue ‘+’ button 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. For example, if a road closure or traffic issue has required a significant detour that you want to track, Locations can be used to reflect that; if there was an accident or truck breakdown, you might want to add the specific location where it occurred for auditing purposes. You may also want to add specific Border Crossings as Locations.

However, keep in mind 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.

Adding Expenses

When you first dispatched the Order, you probably added a Bill to your Expenses related to the carrier responsible for moving the load. However, additional expenses sometimes crop up during a dispatch, which you will want to record on the Dispatch. In most cases, these will all arrive as part of the invoice from your chosen Carrier — so it may make sense to 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.

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 ‘Expenses’ tab in the Dispatch, then the ‘Open’ button 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.

Calculating Inter-dispatch Segment Miles

When dispatching Company-owned equipment, driven by a company driver, or dispatching to an Owner Operator contracted to your company, it is very useful to know the “empty” miles driven from the truck’s last delivery location.  We all want to keep our empty miles down, so having them reported in the application will allow them to be shown on reports, used to calculate driver pay and for analysis purposes.
If you want the software to track your empty miles between dispatches and calculate driver pay for those empty miles, it will do that for you. First, you will need to enable a setting in the configuration area of the software. 
Go to the “gear” icon in the top right-hand corner and choose “Configuration”  Once the configuration menu loads across the top of the screen – go to – Operations and choose “Dispatch” and switch the toggle under “ALWAYS CREATE INTER-DISPATCH SEGMENT.”

Once that toggle is on (green), every time you dispatch a company truck or an owner-operator truck, the software will insert the last know delivery location and populate it at the top of the route plan on the new dispatch.  If there were multiple drops on the last dispatch, the software would ask you to choose which one to populate, and you can choose the one by the green plus sign

Once you have the dispatch created with all locations listed, you can then use the button at the bottom of the route plan to “Calculate Miles,” and the software will return the total miles for the trip and will also break the segments out.  If you put your mouse on any location after the first one – to the right of the location plan, you will see those “segment” miles.

Adding multiple Orders to one dispatch

For our LTL carriers out there or any transportation company that will be moving multiple orders for multiple customers on one dispatch, we have recently introduced our new and enhanced “Add Shipment” list screen.  When you want to join multiple orders together on one dispatch, start with a blank dispatch.  Navigate to the dispatch screen list and choose “Create” at the top of the screen.  This will bring up a blank dispatch.  You can assign the truck or carrier moving the load at this time but to add shipments to this dispatch, follow these instructions:

On the blank dispatch – go to The Shipment area and click on “Add Shipment.”

Clicking on “Add Shipment” will bring up a Shipment list screen that will display all the shipments in your database that are not presently moving on a dispatch, and you can switch the toggle on the left-hand side to green for all shipments you want to be added to this dispatch.

Once all shipments are chosen, you then click on the “Add Shipment” button in the top right-hand corner and the software will give you a pop up confirming the shipment numbers added and allow you to go “Back to the dispatch,” and once you go back to the dispatch, you will see all shipment added into the route plan and the shipment area of the dispatch record.

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 — you should use a Drop instead.

For more details on Switches and Drops, check out our advanced Dispatching article.