Cross-docking is the term for a logistics approach in which products are directly distributed from manufacturers or suppliers to customers. This process takes place within a docking terminal for distribution that has doors for inbound trucks and outbound trucks.
This strategy requires minimum storage space, as the goods are meant to move through instantly. Cross-docking got its name because products are received through the inbound dock and then transferred through the dock into the outbound truck.
Even though these aspects are universal for all cross-docking, there are three different types of this approach:
Continuous cross-docking is the first and simplest type. In this case, the terminal has a central site through which products are going and transferred immediately from one truck to another. In most cases, these terminals are in the form of a line designed to make the loading and unloading simple and fast.
In case either the outbound or inbound trucks are early or late, the truck that arrives first will wait for the other to arrive so that the transfer of goods can be done quickly. The same goods that arrive are transferred to another truck in their entirety.
In a lot of cases, there is a need for merging different products in a single location and then transferring them to another location together. For example, in case a large retail store has ordered its supplies, it would be a waste to drive several trucks that aren’t fully loaded.
This is why consolidation cross-docking was put into place. This process involves merging together multiple different loads into one outbound truck. In this situation, the terminal has more space for storage where different loads can be unloaded and stored until the outbound truck arrives.
As you might have guessed already, deconsolidation cross-docking is completely opposite of consolidation.
In this situation, a large inbound truck is loaded with many different products and it stops at the terminal to unload all the items onto the storage space. After this has happened, the products are individually loaded into outbound trucks.
In most cases, these products are directly shipped to customers and they need to be separated because they are a part of smaller, individual orders. This helps reduce transfer, handling, and transportation costs, while customers receive their orders much quicker.
Even though there are many benefits, operational advantages, and financial results to using cross-docking, companies that plan on using this approach need to ensure proper compliance, auditability, and tracking.
It’s important to control all shipments and have proper visibility in terms of cross-docking so that you and your team can work efficiently. That way, you will feel safe and sound knowing that all your assets are in order and well taken care of.
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