Cross-docking is just one strategy that can be implemented to help achieve a competitive advantage in your distribution operations. If planned and executed properly it saves the intermediate disposition, storage and order fulfillment tasks in the warehouse. Well planned cross-docking operations save resources across the board, at the warehouse like labor, space, and equipment; and also technology resources by simplifying the process.
Cross-docking is a logistics procedure where products from a supplier or manufacturing plant are distributed directly to a customer or retail chain with marginal to no handling or storage time. Cross-docking takes place in a distribution center’s loading dock area, which usually consists of dock doors and trucks. Cross-docking works for both inbound and outbound transportation operations. The process of cross-docking involves the receiving of products through an inbound dock and then transferring them across the dock to the outbound transportation dock.
Once the inbound transportation has been docked its products can be moved either directly or indirectly to the outbound destinations; they can be unloaded, sorted and screened to identify their end destinations. After being sorted, products are moved to the other end of the ‘cross dock’ area via a forklift, conveyor belt, pallet truck or another means to their destined outbound dock. When the outbound transportation has been loaded, the products can then make their way to customers.
Cross-docking is best used for temperature-controlled items such as food which need to be transported as quickly as possible or for packaged and sorted products ready for transportation to a particular customer. Cross-docking can be used when numerous smaller product loads can be combined into a bigger load, which saves on transportation costs.
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