Dock Appointment Scheduling

What makes a good dock scheduling solution and great addition to your site operations?
Loading Docks

A Digital Twin for your Dock Operations

When you digitize your loading docks and manage them with a dock scheduling solution, then this is what you should look for.

Digitize your Operation

In the same way your physical site has the number of loading/unloading spaces, in operational areas, with constraints on the number of vehicles, their height/width, and equipment types, goods types and service duration, so does the digitised version configured in a dock scheduling software solution such as Mobiledock.

A physical site with loading docks is designed to accommodate the flows of various vehicles and equipment necessary to handle goods, and the digital twin will process and collect data related to the physical site, which can be used to simulate, optimize, automate, monitor and analyse various logistical scenarios. A dock scheduling solution, such as Mobiledock, allows you to configure a digital twin of your site for the purpose of managing site operations.

Digitized Docks

Vehicle types

The type of vehicle arriving to your site may have no, low, or high importance on how you process the vehicle on site. Height and length can affect which bays may be considered for the loading/unloading of goods. Does the vehicle have a trailer? Is it side unload or rear unload? All of these factors could be important, depending on your site constraints.

Therefore, it is also important to be able to define those vehicle types, within your dock appointment scheduling platform, which affect how you want allocate a dock space, and for how long the vehicle might take to process.

Load types

An appointment at your docks will usually be for the loading/unloading of goods. These might be single cartons, pallets, roll cages, or containers in a warehouse location. They might be stage sets, or garment adaptors for an entertainment centre. Or bulk construction material at a building site. And each of these might be handled differently at a site, to direct to a bay/space where these types of loads should be processed.

Being able to define those types of loads which your site manages, within your dock scheduling solution, can be critical to which areas of your site, or what dock space/bay you might allocate. The load type and quantity may even determine a variable amount of service time, depending upon the number of load units being processed. Getting this right can have a big impact upon the utilisation of your valuable dock assets, equipment and labour.

Equipment / Product Attributes

When a vehicle arrives, will you need a forklift, crane, trolley, or other type of equipment to load/unload? Are the products ambient, chilled, frozen, fragile, or dangerous? Like vehicle type and load type, equipment and product attributes can play a big part in the allocation of the right dock space.

Being able to configure these real operational factors in you dock appointments service can be the difference between an effective plan, and a plan which will not be used on the ground.

Service durations

Dock bays, labour and equipment is expensive to build, pay, and purchase. Thus, you are going to want to use these valuable assets as effectively as possible. Allocating 1 hour to a load which will only take 15 minutes is a waste of your investment. Therefore having the ability to accurately estimate the amount of time a vehicle will need to be on site, at your dock can make your dock investment work for you. It may even mean you need less dock bays, less labour, and less equipment.

A sophisticated loading dock management solution, such as Mobiledock, will allow you define fixed and variable components of time, to build up a reliable service duration on your site, and reduce the slack time in your operations.

Service areas

Most warehouse, city, port and large construction sites will have different areas on site to handle different activities. It could be inbound vs outbound, ambient vs frozen at a distribution centre, food court vs office tenants at a city building, and dry bulk goods vs containers at a port. Each area will have different operational requirements. Some areas may even morph during the day, from outbound in the morning and inbound in the afternoon.

Being able to define these separate physical or logical operations within your site means you will be able to closely align your physical operation with your digital twin in Mobiledock.

Connected network

A supply chain is a complex mix of suppliers, customers, carriers, and facilities where goods are delivered to, or picked up from. The connections within your supply chain can be very fluid, and often between companies which have no commercial relationship. Suppliers might engage carriers to deliver goods to a customer, at the customers third party logistics ware house. Or to a tenant in a city building. Usually there is no direct relationship between the carrier and the destination. This can lead to difficulties creating the network, to control authorisations, and approve booking requests.

The ability for the supply chain community to connect easily, and form a network, whilst maintaining control, is essential to adoption of a dock scheduling system by this community. For this reason, a robust, simple process for the supply chain community to connect themselves into a network is key to the successful rollout of dock scheduling for your sites.


Not all deliveries/pickups are equal. Meaning, the time of day/week for some types of goods, or for some tenants, might be different than others. A classic scenario is deliveries to a city retail and commercial centre. Delivery of fresh food in the morning should take precedence over a delivery of shoes. Food is for same day consumption, whereas shoes are normally placed into stock and sold over days or weeks.

There are many scenarios where certain suppliers, carriers, tenants deliveries might be given a higher or lower priority than others. A dock appointment scheduling system first of all needs an automatic approval capability, and then have this automatic approval respect prioritisation of arrivals according to site requirements.

Operational Rules

Following along the need for prioritisation, is the requirement to define many different rules which control how requests for vehicles to come on your site are assessed for automatic approval, and allocation of a dock space. These rules need to consider every aspect of the request, including the supplier, carrier, tenant, vehicle type, load type/s, product and equipment, day of week, time of day, and most importantly, all the other bookings which have been approved. Rules can be simple, operational hours for Monday through Friday. But can then be refined to perhaps include reduced weekend hours, or afterhours deliveries. These might be for just specific tenants’ deliveries, and maybe for a limited number of dock spaces, but not on a public holiday. And then have all of these factors considered during automatic and instant approval.

The ability to define the operational requirements of a site, which actually reflect the way in which you need your site to operate is a “no brainer” if you expect to have a digital twin of your dock operations in your dock appointment scheduling solution.

Automated Scheduling

With all the definition of your digital twin complete, you are in a position to go to automatic approval. What does this mean. It means that as a carrier or supplier are making a booking, that in real-time, all the information they have supplied is assessed against the rules you have defined, and service duration is calculated, and arrival time slots options are dynamically generated, whilst considering bookings which have already been approved.

Only time slot options which satisfy all these requirements and constraints are presented to the booking person. It may be every time slot you have, or only those for that particular supplier, carrier, vehicle type or load type. But the person making the booking is presented with options. When one of these options is selected, then the booking request will be automatically approved. An operational area and dock space is assigned. Instantly. And this is the carriers authorisation to come to site, on that day, at that time. Effectively like a boarding pass for an airline.

A true dock scheduling solution must have a simple booking process, with instant, and automatic approvals, to reduce the labour effort at your site. Eliminating phone calls, emails, text messages and fax communications.


With a combination of standard and custom booking status’, and process steps, you should be able to create a workflow for vehicle arrivals to your site, which spans the booking creation, approval, and on site execution. A standard workflow might be Booking Requested, Approved (automatically or manually), Arrived, and Departed. But depending on your site, you may want some additional workflow steps, like Keys In, Keys Out, On Dock, Off

Automated Execution

Automating the approval process speeds planning. Automation at your entry, exit, and within your site speeds up execution. Processing vehicle arrivals fast and accurately depends upon automation and self-service at every opportunity. A dock scheduling solution with integrated License Plate recognition (LPR), PIN Pads, and QR Codes can automatically validate vehicles arriving to your site, and activate boom gates, bollards or other access control equipment. Reducing arrival and departure from minutes to seconds, whilst gathering reliable data for on-time performance analysis.


When we described the informal nature of a supply chain community which forms around your site, made up of suppliers, carriers, tenants, and how Mobiledock connects all these organisations together, it also means you now have a direct line of communication with this community.

What if you have a safety issue on site this afternoon, and you cannot take any more vehicle arrivals on site? Well send an announcement to all carriers and suppliers with a booking this afternoon. The effect of this is to stop new arrivals, which might otherwise make the management of the site incident worse, or more difficult to manage.

Or announcements may be for more mundane things like scheduled site maintenance. Regardless, with a connection through to supply chain community, through your dock scheduling platform, this communication makes this communication possible.


Through the entire booking and execution process, a treasure trove of valuable data is collected in your dock scheduling system. For every step of the process you know who did what and when. From this data you can measure the performance of carriers and suppliers. You can measure the performance of your operations, gate to gate. You can report carrier, supplier, and your own performance to you tenants.

Inventory Control and Visibility

When business documents, like Purchase Orders (PO), Advanced Shipment Notices (ASN), Transport Orders (TO), and other business documents are integrated with your dock appointment scheduling process, you get instant validation of inventory being scheduled to arrive. Right supplier. Right goods. Right time. Providing visibility back into your ERP/WMS. Booking an appointment against a PO, and returning this to your ERP acts as an ASN, without all the EDI compliance normally required.

Mobiledock allows business documents to be integrated, uploaded, or entered, to bring this level of inventory control and visibility.


No system is an island in the internet and digital twin world. Instant, real-time integrations with well documented API’s and Webhooks allow your dock scheduling solution to exchange data between your smart building, security, access control, ERP, WMS and other systems instantly.

With an “integrate everything” approach, Mobiledock can be integrated or embedded with almost any other system using industry standard communications and protocols.

True Multi-Tenant SaaS

Without getting technical, a modern, truly multi-tenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) dock appointment scheduling solution such as Mobiledock, designed with the supply chain community in mind, provides a multitude of benefits.

The time from signing up to going live is days, not weeks or months. The service is up running and live now. You just need to be activated, and start inviting your network to connect.

Nothing to install to get up and running and making bookings.

Carriers and Suppliers have a single service, with single user name, to book across the whole dock scheduling network. In fact, they are likely to be using Mobiledock now.

Updates to the dock scheduling platform is seamless, automatic, and new features added incrementally on a regular basis, with the service available 24z7.

What are you waiting for?

Mobiledock is a world leader in automated loading dock management with dock appointment scheduling