Cross Docking

Is Cross-Docking Right for Your Supply Chain?

In case you don’t know, cross-docking is the practice of timing shipments in from your manufacturer with shipments out to your clients so that your product bypasses the warehouse. It comes with a lot of advantages and opportunities for many supply chains, but it isn’t the best choice for everyone. Here are some considerations to make if you’re considering cross-docking your supply chain:

Advantages of Cross-Docking

There are many advantages to including cross-docking as a part of your supply chain strategy. These are the things that will compound timeliness and profitability not just once but throughout the length of your supply chain. 

Reduced Warehousing Costs

The less time your product spends in a warehouse, the less their warehousing costs will be. It’s simple math. Cross-docking requires no shelf space, no pallets, no temperature control, no packing. All savings.

Increased Freshness

If you have a product like foodstuffs or fresh toiletries with a short shelf life, cross-docking your supply chain means delivering your goods at peak freshness. How’s that for customer satisfaction? 

Decreased Materials Handling

Instead of going from truck to storage to truck, your product goes truck to truck. That also means reduced labor costs due to less time handling the product.  

Quicker Delivery Times

Cross-docking can be a great supply chain solution for when you’re seeing an unexpected surge in demand. The reduced downtime gets products into the hands of your customers quickly. 

Diminished Transit Distance

When you’re working with a traditional supply chain, all shipments must arrive at your warehouse before they can be sent out to customers whether it is the most direct route for distribution or not. But without the need to warehouse your goods first, two trucks can meet at a cross-docking facility anywhere in the US that is the most beneficial for your customers, which quickly reduces distance traveled and the associated expense in labor and fuel.  

Disadvantages of Cross-Docking

There are times that incorrectly implemented or poorly aligned cross-docking can create more problems for your business. Here are some pitfalls many first-time cross-docking users encounter and how to avoid them:  

Complex Timing

Cross-docking relies upon one of the most efficient but also most complex inventory management techniques called just in time manufacturing, which requires accurate manufacturing times and demand forecasting. Get a team of supply chain experts to help you create a plan that moves smoothly. 

Requires Supplier Trust

If your supplier is a little flighty or occasionally runs behind, it can make cross-docking planning difficult. Having to reschedule every step of distribution down the line of your supply chain every time there’s a delay can make you a little crazy and cost you more than warehousing if it happens too frequently, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t utilize it for other suppliers.  

Fewer Hands on Deck

When you’re delivering to a warehouse, there is staff on site to help load and unload your product. But a cross-docking facility typically has fewer workers on site, and much of the manual labor is left up to drivers. A good way to combat this is by utilizing a cross-docking partner that offers lumping services to get your trucks back on the road quickly. 

Cross-docking services aren’t the right choice for every supply chain every time. But for most businesses, cross-docking services can become a great way to increase efficiency in the supply chain under the right conditions. Be prepared for the next time cross-docking can put your business ahead by preparing a dynamic supply chain strategy today.

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