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What is Cross Docking in Warehousing and How Does it Help Your Business?

What is cross docking in warehousing and how does it help your business (1)
Last Modified: March 21, 2022
The world of warehousing and distribution is often fast paced, with the goal of quickly transferring freight. It takes a good logistics plan to make it all happen smoothly and keep everything moving. So what is cross docking and is it a good logistics solution for your business? In short, cross dock
Harriet Daniels
October 21, 2019
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The world of warehousing and distribution is often fast paced, with the goal of quickly transferring freight. It takes a good logistics plan to make it all happen smoothly and keep everything moving. So what is cross docking and is it a good logistics solution for your business?

In short, cross docking takes shipments from inbound trucks and loads them onto waiting outgoing truck trailers. There is usually a short turnaround time for this process to occur from the time the inbound shipment arrives at the warehouse dock on a truck and is then loaded on an outbound truck.

Here’s a closer look at this niche process in warehousing and how it can help your business.

What is Cross Docking?What is Cross Docking?

Supply chain managers researching what type of logistics solution may be a good fit for your business, a cross dock terminal could be the answer. Let’s start with a definition of what is cross docking to make sure we are on the same page.

Cross docking takes goods arriving at the docking terminal from the vehicle and moving the shipment to an outbound truck for delivery. In essence this process streamlines how your freight gets from the production floor to the end user.

It typically involves goods placed on pallets which can easily be moved by a forklift from the receiving dock to another dock to the outbound truck. It means less handling of the freight and eliminates the need for storage in the fulfillment warehouse. The ultimate goal is to get shipments in and out of the warehouse in a minimum time period.

Cross Docking Versus Traditional Warehouse

Many are familiar with the long term practice of storing boxes of inventory in a traditional warehouse awaiting the fulfillment of an order when placed. In this type of traditional warehouse, a large amount of space is needed to accommodate the items prior to shipping. And while that method may have served a purpose for certain businesses, for others it may not have been a cost effective option.

The switch to utilizing a cross dock warehouse means the shipper saves time in getting products to customers. A key to success is the use of technology in every aspect of the process to track shipments in real time. Businesses are able to see exactly what is moving through the warehouse and adjust shipment levels as needed.

In making the case for cross docking versus a traditional warehouse, it comes down to shorter shipping times, cutting costs and a more efficient process. Cross docking provides all those factors and allows shippers flexibility to adjust volumes as needed based on demand.

Types of Cross Docking

Businesses can choose which type of cross dock solution fits their needs. There are several options based on industry sector and other factors.

A couple of cross docking types include:

Retail – is a booming niche as online shopping explodes in popularity and retailers must find efficient ways to deliver goods. It means a fast turnaround time from when an order is placed to arrival at a customer’s door. Cross docking allows from a bulk item to arrive inbound and be consolidated and routed to outbound trucks.

Distributor – an assortment of inbound products arrives from several vendors and is then grouped into a single shipment for an outbound truck for delivery.

Cross Dock GoodsCross Dock Goods

The nature of a cross dock facility is to get things in and out of the warehouse facility quickly for delivery to the customer. However, all things may not be a right fit for this specialized service. Suitable shipments for cross docking varies and tend to include products that have a limited shelf life or marked for expedited delivery.

Popular items for cross docking include:

  • Parts
  • Perishable items
  • Pre-packaged and sorted items
  • Large quantities of products

For instance, e-commerce businesses are good candidates to employ cross dock services.

Consider Cross Docking

Now that we’ve taken time to learn more about cross docking in warehousing, let’s discuss how it can help your business.

A number of things should be considered when it comes to cross dock operations. One of the most important is inventory control. Any business looking to outsource cross docking services should make sure their products are tracked accurately through each step of the process. Starting at the point of inbound arrival in the warehouse to being loaded on outbound trucks; cross docking should be well planned to make sure nothing is mixed up. A mistake with inventory management can delay a shipment and may ultimately disrupt the overall supply chain.

Technology plays a major role in this warehouse service when it comes to inventory. Businesses that are able to integrate with the warehouse to keep tabs on shipments will benefit from the service. Others who have lagged behind in updating technology and tracking goods may find it overwhelming to remain as competitive.

Benefits of Cross Docking

The list of benefits with cross docking are many with savings being one of the major positives. Now who doesn’t want to save money? The bottom line for business owners’ centers on showing a profit without spending too much upfront.

The benefits add up for cross docking beyond saving money to include:

  • Eliminates the need to store inventory in the warehouse
  • Reduces material handling
  • Quickly process inbound and outbound shipments
  • Ability to consolidate LTL shipments
  • Reduces labor cost and transportation costs
  • Utilize electronic tracking for inventory management
  • Shipping time is faster

A business can likely realize the benefits of cross docking in a short amount of time. And implementing cross docking into the distribution channel can be a seamless process. Discover what is cross docking and the many advantages the service can provide to businesses.

Have a rejected cargo load? Our transload/cross dock services can help you offload those goods and get back on the road to fulfill your other orders. Learn more from our article Rejected Freight: A Truckers Worst Fear and How to Solve It.

R+L Global Logistics

The professional team with R+L Global Logistics is ready to assist in finding the right warehouse solution for your shipments. R+L Global is a truckload LTL company and is a equipped to handle the job.

In addition, R+L Global Logistics offers a host of fulfillment and distribution services. Let our team provide an overview of what cross docking is and how your business can benefit. Give us a call at 866-989-3082 to work with an agent on options to suit your needs.

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