Category: Resources

Topic: Freight, LTL, Truckload

Cross-Docking in Logistics

Cross Docking

The shipping industry consistently looks for ways to gain efficiency in an increasingly competitive market. In an attempt to increase efficiency, the strategy of cross-docking was born. Freight is directly loaded from inbound trailers to outbound trailers to speed up the process and eliminate warehouse storage. This article will dive into what you need to know about how cross-docking works and the advantages this strategy gives shippers.

What is Cross-Docking?

Cross-docking is a logistics method that aims to provide a just in time strategy for a supply chain. It involves a specific logistics facility where inbounds goods are sorted and loaded onto an outbound trailer with no storage. Companies take advantage of this method to break down bulk shipments to distribute to retail stores, logistics facilities, or even customers.

Cross-Docking: A Detailed Explanation

The method was first coined in the 1930s as a way to improve efficiency. The term originates from the literal meaning of the shipments “crossing the dock” in the process. One side of the terminal will have inbound and the other side is outbound trailers. Products arriving from inbound vehicles is quickly sorted and placed on outbound trailers relative to their final destination.

While a company, for example Walmart, may invest in cross-docking facilities for their operations, generally shippers will find this practice in common freight carriers like LTL Carriers.

Cross-Docking by Freight Carriers

The method is the primary operation at Less-than-Truckload terminals. Pick and Deliver (P&D) drivers will bring freight to the local terminal and the freight crosses the dock to the correct trailer. Whether this trailer is for delivery or for line haul to another terminal.

Truckload carriers primarily utilize cross-docking when needing to switch out equipment for various issue resolution. However, there are truckload carriers that perform this function for load-to-ride shipments to achieve customer consolidation goals. The main goal when a truckload carrier cross docks is to consolidate and ensure to optimize when handling partial shipments.

Key Takeaways

  • Cross-Docking is an effective approach to accelerate delivery and increase supply chain efficiency
  • The method involves transferring goods from inbound vehicles to outbound vehicles with little to no warehousing storage
  • The retail, e-commerce, manufacturers, and freight carriers use this method in their operations
  • Less-than-Truckload freight carriers utilize this method in their operations, while truckload carriers may utilize this operation if needed

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of Cross-Docking?

This process allows for more efficient supply chain operations as there is little need to store the goods. The facility will directly transfer the goods from an inbound trailer to an outbound trailer for delivery or movement.

What is an Example of Cross-Docking?

An example would be at less-than-truckload facilities. An LTL carrier will pick up a bulk shipment from a shipper and then sort and segregate the different shipments onto outbound trailers to the next terminal. This process is repeated until the goods are at the destination terminal and placed on delivery trailers.

What is the difference between cross-docking and warehousing?

While there may be a some storage involved with cross-docking, goods typically have little to no storage with this process. Warehousing is the process of storing goods with a stock supply until the goods are ready for us. In cross-docking, the goods skip the warehousing procedure at a facility and is immediately transferred to the next trailer for the next movement.

What is a disadvantage of Cross-Docking?

In the point of view of a shipper routing through freight carriers, here are some disadvantages. In this strategy, shipments move through multiple touch points, opening up risk of damage or loss during the operation. The carrier may either accidentally damage during the movement or place the shipment on the wrong trailer causing delays. Another disadvantage is shipments are not flexible during this process. The goods must move to keep cross dock facility at good performance. If goods must be delayed due to any reason and must have storage, this disrupts the operation.

Utilizing ViewPoint TMS to Successfully Route LTL Shipments

Utilizing Less-than-Truckload carriers is the easiest way to implement a cross-docking strategy. Line haul operations utilizes this method to keep shipments moving in LTL networks. Find success in partnering with regional and national Less-than-Truckload carriers with ViewPoint TMS.

Learn more about Partnering with a top 3PL Broker like Translogistics, Inc (TLI):

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