What Is Cross Docking? How Does It Work?

Cross Dock Warehousing
  1. Imagine that you are operating a warehouse where you receive large quantities of similar items from manufacturers and distributors. Upon receiving, you store the items in the warehouse.
  2. You break the bulk shipment and, store items into respective areas where they sit until they are required to be shipped.
  3. Next, you receive an order for a combination of various items from downstream smaller distributors or retailers. 
  4. You pull the items from the shelves that you need for each individual shipment and make up the truckload.
  5. You call the transporter to send the truck, load it when it arrives, completing the receiving and shipping cycle.

How would you like to do the following instead?

  • Schedule the trucks carrying the inbound deliveries and the trucks to take the outbound shipments to arrive at the same time at your warehouse.
  • You unload the bulk quantities from the inbound trucks.
  • Assemble the outbound shipments right on the docks, without storing them.
  • Load the outbound trucks, provide them the shipping documents, and off they go.

This is cross-docking.

cross docking warehouse

As you can imagine, cross-docking saves a lot of time and effort, resulting in huge cost savings by avoiding double handing and storage – potentially millions annually for a decent-sized warehouse.

Due to a large number of permutations and transactions as well as documentation, computer programs are used to plan and manage the cross-docking process. Very detailed coordination and close monitoring are required to make things happen just in time for cross-docking to be successful.

aftab khan
Aftab Khan

Aftab Khan is a logistics specialist with over forty years of experience in all aspects of supply chain and logistics management. He is an engineer by training and holds an MBA, besides several certifications from APICS/ASCM, ISCEA, and BRASI. Mr. Khan is the Executive Director of Business Research and Service Institute LLC, USA.

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