Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) is an important control variable in logistics. We explain the term and show how you can achieve better control over your supply chain and higher customer satisfaction through precise ETA forecasting for your truck transports.
What does ETA - Estimated Time of Arrival - mean?
ETA, Estimated Time of Arrival, is the estimated time of arrival of shipments or transports.
This illustrates a critical factor of successful logistics operations: predicting the ETA as precisely as possible, in other words a good ETA forecast
. The earlier and the more accurate the prediction of the Estimated Time of Arrival, the smoother and more transparent the supply chain will function.
What is ETA Forecasting?
ETA forecasting is a method for forecasting the arrival time of trucks and other vehicles. This method is based on the factors such as the speed of the vehicle and traffic conditions. The advantages of ETA forecasting:
- Precise ETA forecasting allows you to detect delays and disruptions in time.
- You can plan deliveries more accurately and avoid delays by using alternative routes or taking other measures.
- Optimised ETA forecasts allow you to better inform your customers and increase customer satisfaction.
- You increase the efficiency of your supply chain.
- With ETA-Forecasting you create the greatest possible transparency in the supply chain for all those involved.
ETA forecasting in truck transport management
Modern transport software use sophisticated forecasting algorithms
to forecast the ETA. For the prediction of the Estimated Time of Arrival, two things are important:
- Accuracy: The predicted ETA should be as close as possible to the subsequent Actual Time of Arrival (ATA).
- Early availability: The earlier the arrival time can be predicted, the more time there is to react in case of disruptions.
Remember: Even if there is no longer any possibility to reschedule and avoid a delay in transport, an early prognosis of a problem remains valuable. This way, you or your customer will not be in for a nasty surprise and the subsequent processes can still be adjusted if necessary.
How to make accurate and early ETA forecasts
The successful implementation of ETA forecasting requires the use of GPS and Telematics devices
, that monitor vehicle position and speed in real time. These devices are connected to the cloud or to the Transport management system
(TMS) where the data is analysed and processed to make accurate arrival time predictions.
In the simplest case, you only calculate when a truck will stop next. The current position of the vehicle and the congestion situation are used for this, similar to a navigation system in a car. But that's not accurate enough for commercial truck transport. Dispatchers must also take into account the best route for trucks (truck routing) as well as the driver's driving and rest times. A legally required break before the next stop strongly influences the ETA.
Dependencies between several vehicles
In order to provide the ETA forecast at an early stage, one has to calculate not only the next stop, but also all subsequent stops and future tours of the vehicle. This makes the ETA calculation more complex and requires a sophisticated forecasting algorithm.
The situation becomes even more challenging when you plan with several interdependent transports, such as cross-docking, or encountering traffic. This creates a dependency network that you must take into account in ETA forecasting.
Inform colleagues and clients about the ETA
The forecasting system continuously recalculates the arrival times and adjusts them to current live events.
The dispatcher has them constantly in view. Various tools can be used to inform the other participants in the supply chain about the forecast ETAs:
- Automatic advice
- Online tracking
- Arrival monitor
Automatic notifications allow the customer to be notified by e-mail or SMS, and online shipment tracking allows them to follow the status and ETA of the shipment themselves. An arrival monitor provides an overview of truck arrival times for optimal control of loading and unloading processes in the warehouse.
When set up correctly, all systems work together, from telematics to the dispatcher's transport control centre and to inform the customer, partners and your colleagues. The algorithms work in real time to evaluate the data and provide you with precise ETA forecasting as the basis for the ongoing optimisation of your transport logistics.