Cross docking is a term used to describe the handling of goods without storage. “Cross” is used here in the sense of “crossing” and “dock” means a goods entry and exit ramp.
Cross docking describes a process in transshipment in which, on the one hand, the suppliers dock at the ramps of the incoming goods department, the goods are unloaded there and passed on directly to order picking. Here the individual goods are sorted, picked, assigned to the goods issue and transferred. On the outgoing goods side, the consignments picked in this way, having passed through the transshipment area without being stored, are transferred to the transports docked there for onward transport to the recipient.
By means of cross docking, faster throughput times and lower storage space requirements in the transshipment area can be realized. Ideally, the reduction in inventories and acceleration of the flow of goods leads to overall cost savings in warehousing.
A particular challenge of cross docking is the seamless flow of information along the participants in the value and logistics chain. For integrated and successful processes, logistics software is usually used to optimally coordinate cross docking operations.
Cross Docking & Logistics
In logistics, cross docking is not only used for optimization in goods handling, but also to avoid LTL transports as far as possible. In goods receiving, the various incoming goods are sorted and pre-picked in such a way that, on the outgoing goods side, FTL transports deliver to the recipient as far as possible.
Cross docking is an efficient solution whenever large but plannable quantities of goods are handled. This applies to all distribution networks with such incoming and outgoing goods. The warehouses in these networks then become cross docking centers. These processes come into play particularly in the retail sector. Central warehouses (also of logistics service providers) act as cross docking points, which are supplied with the various goods and the picked consignments are then distributed to the individual stores with as few deliveries as possible.
Cross Docking Variants
The goal of inventory-free cross docking is to handle goods directly without a warehouse and ship them to the recipient. In addition to reduced inventory and faster turnaround times, costs associated with warehouse processes are minimized. Reduce warehousing costs: This primarily includes the costs of providing the necessary storage capacity as well as the costs of handling the processes in a warehouse, for example storage and retrieval or picking.
Generally, three variants of cross docking are distinguished:
The goods are delivered already pre-picked and packed by the sender. These logistical units, often end-packed on pallets, are handled “as packed by the sender” and thus assigned to a shipping order without any changes. The prerequisite for single-stage cross docking is that the logistics units are already marked by the sender and the recipient is indicated on the goods.
The goods are only delivered unchanged to the cross docking point by the sender. Here, the logistics units are broken down, re-sorted and re-picked into appropriate units for delivery to the appropriate consignees.
Multi-step here means that, in addition to re-picking, further process steps are completed in the handling of cross docking. These very often include packing and labeling the goods before they are sent to the goods issue department for shipment to the recipient.