So, what is cross docking?

Cross docking is a logistics process where goods are offloaded from their inbound truck, and immediately loaded onto an outbound truck. Cross docking facilities are designed to be sorting centers, as opposed to traditional distribution centers. The goal is to remove the “storage” portion of a traditional supply chain.

Here’s how it works: an inbound truck comes up to the facility via the inbound lanes. The truck is unloaded, the goods are immediately sorted and loaded onto an outbound truck waiting in the outbound lanes. The goods are typically sorted by destination – whether they be close together or all going to one.

Advantages of cross docking

Cross docking is known to streamline supply chain operations. When done right, it removes the storage and inventory handling fees as goods spend less time in storage and are handled fewer times. Cross docking can lower the cost of transportation because trucks are moving larger loads and are travelling to fewer destinations. And goods typically get to the end user faster than traditional supply chain methods because they’re not sitting in storage and are spending less time in transit.

Types of cross docking

First, continuous cross docking. In continuous cross docking, the inbound truck arrives and is unloaded. The goods are transferred in their entirety to the waiting outbound truck. Should one truck arrive first, they must wait until the second truck arrives so that the transfer of goods is done quickly.

Second, consolidation cross docking. In consolidation cross docking, multiple inbound loads are broken down, they are resorted and loaded onto outbound trucks. For example, a department store has ordered more supplies and inventory. All the different orders are sent to one cross dock facility where the orders are combined and loaded onto one outbound truck for delivery to the store.

Finally, deconsolidation cross docking. Deconsolidation cross docking is the exact opposite of consolidation cross docking. In deconsolidation cross docking, multiple similar orders are sent to a facility where they are broken down and loaded onto different trucks for outbound delivery. For example, a ping pong manufacturer has three orders going to different customers. The orders are sent to a cross dock facility, where they are separated and sent out for delivery to the individual customers.