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What is Cross-docking – Understanding the concept & definition

Filed under: Supply Chain

Speed and productivity of a supply chain has become an important factor of growth for organisations.  Cross-docking is just one strategy that can be implemented to help achieve a competitive advantage.  Implemented appropriately and in the right conditions, cross-docking can provide significant improvements in efficiency and handling times. 

What is cross docking?

Cross docking is a logistics procedure where products from a supplier or manufacturing plant are distributed directly to a customer or retail chain with marginal to no handling or storage time.  Cross docking takes place in a distribution docking terminal; usually consisting of trucks and dock doors on two (inbound and outbound) sides with minimal storage space.  The name ‘cross docking’ explains the process of receiving products through an inbound dock and then transferring them across the dock to the outbound transportation dock.

Cross Docking example

In simple terms, inbound products arrive through transportation such as trucks/trailers, and are allocated to a receiving dock on one side of the ‘cross dock’ terminal.  Once the inbound transportation has been docked its products can be moved either directly or indirectly to the outbound destinations; they can be unloaded, sorted and screened to identify their end destinations.  After being sorted, products are moved to the other end of the ‘cross dock’ terminal via a forklift, conveyor belt, pallet truck or another means of transportation to their destined outbound dock.  When the outbound transportation has been loaded, the products can then make their way to customers. 

When is cross-docking used?

The process of cross docking will not suit every warehouses needs, it is therefore important to make an informed decision as to whether cross-docking will increase the productivity, costs and customer satisfaction for your specific business.  Cross docking can advance the supply chain for a variety of specific products.  For one, unpreserved or temperature controlled items such as food which need to be transported as quickly as possible can be benefitted by this process.  Additionally, already packaged and sorted products ready for transportation to a particular customer can become a faster and more efficient process through cross docking. 

Some of the main reasons cross docking is implemented is to:

  • Provide a central site for products to be sorted and similar products combined to be delivered to multiple destinations in the most productive and fastest method.  This process can be described as “hub and spoke”
  • Combine numerous smaller product loads into one method of transport to save on transportation costs.  This process can be described as ‘consolidation arrangements’.
  • Break down large product loads into smaller loads for transportation to create an easier delivery process to the customer.  This process can be described as ‘deconsolidation arrangements’.

Hopefully this blog assists you in understanding the concept of cross-docking and why it is implemented into an organisations supply chain process.  The next part to this blog will detail the advantages and disadvantages of cross-docking for a greater understanding of this process. 


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Excellent publish. Fantastic tips embraced. Appreciate your internet site. All the best !.

Dissertation Writing
April 16, 2012 - 4:17 am

Brilliant write-up! I am impressed to see the article about cross docking. Really it is very important for the marketing indeed. Waiting for supplementary information about it. Keep it up mate.

July 03, 2012 - 5:48 pm

very useful….thnks fr d upload….   

November 17, 2012 - 6:35 am

Awesome…. Simple & well explained. Thanks.   

January 13, 2013 - 2:37 am

Well Written!   

December 26, 2013 - 3:37 pm

Excellent !   

February 01, 2014 - 9:45 am

    very good

March 23, 2014 - 6:54 pm

Very useful information for new learners. Thanx

Khadim Hussain
May 18, 2014 - 5:01 pm

  Informative and helping stuff thanxx

August 10, 2014 - 6:16 pm

thanx for dis piece of work

magada hassan
November 09, 2014 - 7:23 am

    Very helpful description

Md. Israt Uddin Badruddoza
January 18, 2015 - 10:06 pm

  Yes this was very helpful, now I understand the concept ..

May 08, 2015 - 1:16 am

                      Perfect Explanation!

August 30, 2015 - 11:37 pm

            easy to digest…! nicely explained…!

October 07, 2015 - 4:09 am

Yes this was usefule                        

October 14, 2015 - 5:00 pm

Very very helpful, thank you.

October 16, 2015 - 8:13 am

  very explanatory… in a simple language… am hooked now to this blog

Eucharia Udeh
November 03, 2015 - 8:12 am

Verry good, now i understand what’s Cross - docking

Le anh Thiem
December 08, 2015 - 2:39 pm

Excellent posting; succinct and informative. Thank you very much!                       

Andrea Diaz
December 15, 2015 - 6:46 pm

Lovely explanation… Thank you                        

January 12, 2016 - 8:56 pm

  fine! comprehensive material and easily to be understood.                     

juma Omar Juma
February 12, 2016 - 7:44 pm

Logistics words made easy with this material. It’s nice.

Rathna Reddy
March 28, 2016 - 9:41 pm

I like that cross-docking provides more convenience for customers. It would be so nice to get your things a lot faster than usual. I hate waiting for my ordered products to be delivered to me because it takes so long. Hopefully cross-docking will be used more in the future!

Kendall Ryder
August 24, 2016 - 1:51 am

Very good article, helped me to clear all my doubts.                 

lakshay chutani
August 30, 2016 - 11:55 pm

excellent article, thank you

marion edwards
September 21, 2016 - 5:56 am

Hi This is good stuff. Is there any fire prevention standard associated with cross docking..?   

Douglas Smith        

Douglas Smith
March 28, 2017 - 7:57 pm

Very helpful for a non-logistics type.  Thank you!  JLT                        

Judy Tomsovic
April 08, 2017 - 11:38 am

wow, i have leant alot . keep it up thax.

shelly choongo
May 02, 2017 - 7:15 pm

Really good article, Very helpful to understand the Cross Docking                        

Kamal Gupta
June 09, 2017 - 11:52 pm

Thanks, great post.

August 26, 2017 - 7:38 am

  Very informative in a simple way .

Thank you very much

Ammar Al Bayati
October 16, 2017 - 4:17 am

Excellent! Reminds me of my youth working at Anderson Doors on Hollenbeck St in Rochester NY back in the mid-70s. Damn cold in the winter, that warehouse was.                     

John Walik / Houston
November 08, 2017 - 4:35 am

Amazing stuff! I really impressed to read the information here. Keep doing the great work up

November 27, 2017 - 6:23 pm

Cross-docking is a practice in logistics of unloading materials from an incoming semi-trailer truck or railroad car and loading these materials directly into outbound trucks, trailers, or rail cars, with little or no storage in between.
May 04, 2018 - 10:12 pm

Very informative and helpful write up. 

Emmanuel Enilolobo
October 19, 2018 - 9:26 pm

                  Great post! Do you have any suggestion Books for Logistics and Supply Chain?

Non Ho
December 06, 2018 - 8:54 pm

    Great explanation.  Thanks for taking the time to post!                   

February 05, 2019 - 1:18 am

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