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Written by Steve Hudgik
Cross docking is a method for moving materials or product with little or no warehousing during the process. It involves unloading incoming shipments; sorting and consolidation; and then immediately loading them on outgoing trucks or rail cars. Instead of warehousing, the distribution center is essentially just a sorting center which materials quickly pass through.
A typical cross docking facility might look like a long, narrow building with loading docks on both sides. The objective is to maximize the number of loading docks and minimize the amount of floor space. Materials arrive on one side of the building; are sorted and consolidated in the middle; and loaded onto trucks and shipped out from the other side of the building. Whenever possible materials are moved directly from an inbound truck to an outbound truck.
With cross docking incoming materials have already been assigned to a customer. There is no reason for them to sit in the distribution center waiting to be "sold." They may be transferred directly to an outbound truck. In some cases materials spend less than an hour in the distribution center. A longer residence time might be needed at times to allow time for enough materials to come in to make a full outbound truck to certain destinations. However, materials rarely spend more than 24 hours in the distribution center.
The spoke and hub systems used by airlines might be considered a cross docking system for moving people. People arrive at an airline's hub airport from a large number of individual locations. The people are sorted and consolidated onto outgoing planes and delivered to their destinations. Ideally they spend a minimum amount of time in the airport, although when traveling to or from less popular locations there may be longer airport wait times. In a simplistic view the planes just move back and forth along the same routes. They collect and bring people into the hub, then reverse direction and distribute outgoing traffic back along the same route.
The advantage of cross docking include:
While cross docking is not appropriate for all industries, it provides powerful economic, quality, and customer satisfaction benefits that make cross docking a compelling approach to handling movement of goods and materials.
There are a number of cross docking scenarios that can be used.
Successful cross docking requires excellent communication, and that means having a DuraLabel printer to make needed labels and signs. With DuraLabel you can easily make highly visible, tough, durable signs and labels. Call DuraLabel at 1-888-326-9244 today.