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The phrase estimated time of arrival or ETA is so commonplace, that it’s meaning in logistics is often not known. ETA in logistics is not just a commonly used term, but a vital metric to measure performance and time. Of course, today with emerging logistics technologies it is convenient to calculate and track the ETA of a package, but that does not undermine its role. The estimated time of arrival of a shipment or package is not only a forecast of its tentative time of delivery at the destination, it’s also how logistics companies gain competitive advantage over competitors and drive logistics sales.


What is estimated time of arrival meaning?

ETA meaning in logistics refer to the tentative time the shipment will reach its destination. It’s a rough estimate so that the port/warehouse/customer can stay prepared for the next steps.

Estimated Time of Arrival examples:

  • As an eCommerce customer, you can track the status of your parcel and get an ETA/ETDel on the tentative date you will receive your parcel (we discuss ETDel later)
  • As a ride app user, you can calculate the ETA of reaching your destination
  • As an eCommerce 3PL provider, you can forecast and improve last-mile delivery based on ETAs/ETDels of parcels
  • As a manufacturer, you can prepare your warehouse for receiving the next shipment based on ETAs provided by the transporter and keep your distribution channel strategy aligned to business goals

Today, with the right use of technology tools, it’s easier to calculate estimated time of arrival. This improves overall supply chain operations, identify obstacles, optimise schedules, and gain data-driven insights for better supply chain planning and optimisation.

At Tata nexarc, we understand the importance of timely delivery. That’s why, with Logistics on Tata nexarc we provide true ETA and prioritise timely delivery. We have partnered with leading logistics service providers and offer the best rates, free transit insurance, and doorstep delivery. Explore now.

How to calculate ETA in logistics?

In this section we will understand how to calculate the estimated time of arrival for shipments. As can be gathered, there are several factors that would affect the ETA of shipments. Some of the common factors to consider for calculating ETA are:

  • The type of shipment and the mode of transportation e.g., air, water, roadways or rail transport and the average speed of vehicle
  • The distance between the place of origin and destination (e.g., exports, intra and inter city etc.)
  • The type of goods being transported and transportation type (e.g., FTL vs PTL vs LTL, freight, single vs multi carrier, etc.)
  • Time spent in operational activities (e.g., fuel refilling, loading and unloading, changing ports/docks, paperwork clearance etc.)
  • Type of logistics service provider (e.g., 3PL vs 4PL), travel hours, rest time
  • Any emergency (e.g., unforeseen road blockage, weather change, health challenges etc.)

ETA will be calculated considering all these factors. And while the list appears long and complex, with modern technology and supply chain efficiency, there are times when the entire order fulfilment process (i.e., from placing an order – to awaiting fulfilment – confirmation – processing – packaging – delivery) can happen in the same or next day.

Formula for calculating estimated time of arrival:

ETA = Estimated time of departure + Estimated time in transit

Using simple mathematics:

ETA (time) = Total distance / Vehicle speed

As can be guessed, in both cases only an estimate can be provided.

In reality however, logistics service providers use advanced navigation tools for route optimisation, data for insights on time spent at each touchpoint, and multiple trackers to track shipment progress.

How to calculate Estimated Time of Arrival example using formula:

Parcel A is shipped from Delhi for Mumbai at 02:30 hrs on 1 September, 2023 via road transport (truck). Approximate distance to be covered is 1400 kms via truck with speed of 50 kms/hr. The truck will be on road for 8 hrs daily (10 pm – 6 am).

ETA Formula:

ETA = Total distance / Vehicle speed

= 1400 / 50

= 28 hours

Now, since the truck only runs for 8 hours days, the number of days required is = 28 / 8 = 3.5 days

Hence, the parcel will reach Mumbai after 3.5 days, i.e., 5 September.


Once the truck reaches the warehouse, there will be operational activities involved. As such, calculating the ETA will keep the warehouse manager ready to receive the truck on 5 September, including arranging for equipment for loading-unloading, paperwork and documentation, storage space, quality inspection, etc. (ETC – we talk about this later).

Other terms related to ETA estimated time of arrival

While we are discussing about ETA estimated time of arrival, let us also take a look at other terms often used in a related context:

  • ETD or Estimated Time of Departure (ETDep) or Delivery (ETDel)
  • ETC or Estimated Time of Completion


Terminology Meaning
ETA – Estimated time of arrival ETA is the rough time the shipment is expected to reach its destination, e.g., port/warehouse
ETD (ETDep) – Estimated time of departure ETDep is the estimated time the shipment/vessel/vehicle is expected to leave its original point e.g., port, station, warehouse, manufacturing unit etc.
ETD (ETDel) – Estimated time of delivery ETDel is the rough time by when the shipment is expected to reach the final destination, e.g., the customer’s shipping address. Though ETA and ETDel are often used interchangeably, ETA refers to the tentative time the parcel will reach the port/warehouse, whereas ETDel refers to the final destination in the supply chain.
ETC – Estimated time of completion ETC refers to the closing time of certain tasks, e.g., loading and unloading.
AAT – Actual arrival time ETA and ETD are estimates; AAT is the actual time the parcel arrives as the destination.

Why is ETA important?

We reach the critical question – what’s the importance of Estimated Time of Arrival.

In simple terms, these estimates are important because it keeps all stakeholders informed of movement of goods and enables them to prepare for receiving the shipment.

For instance, the warehouse manager, as a part of inventory management must be familiar with the ETA of the next batch of inventory. For eCommerce business, the customer must be aware of the ETDel to be present to receive the parcel or leave instructions.

Logistics can be an expensive business. When conducting logistics cost analysis, in most cases it has been seen that unplanned logistics management is the primary reason for rising costs. Timely delivery is a key component of planning, and when the right estimates are available, it can impact and improve the entire SCM process.

Sohini Banerjee

Sohini is a seasoned content writer with 12 years’ experience in developing marketing and business content across multiple formats. At Tata nexarc, she leverages her skills in crafting curated content on the Indian MSME sector, steel procurement, and logistics. In her personal time, she enjoys reading fiction and being up-to-date on trends in digital marketing and the Indian business ecosystem.