Getting a manufactured product from the facility to the customer’s doorstep as quickly and as cheaply as possible is one of the most important tasks any manufacturer or product distributor faces. By implementing cross docking strategies, your business can save more, deliver faster, and improve overall efficiency across the whole delivery process.
How Cross Docking Works And How It Is Used Most Effectively
Cross docking refers to the process of delivering a product from the plant to the customer as directly as possible, and with a minimum amount of handling in between. Not every product or delivery is improved by incorporating cross docking. However, when it works, it can vastly increase efficiency.
Cross docking is most effective in the following instances:
- Hub-and-spoke distribution: Cross docking creates a central location to draw together different parts from different sources, assemble new products or repackage existing products, and then ship to customers.
- Consolidation: You can also use cross docking when bringing together products from multiple smaller deliveries for a single larger shipment.
- De-consolidation: Conversely, you can break down your larger shipments into smaller shipments for quick distribution to a variety of locations.
- Opportunistic potential: When possible, transferring a product directly from the inbound dock to the outbound dock can save time and money.
The above instances can occur in many different industries working with many kinds of products. For example, hub-and-spoke cross docking may help speed up the delivery of complex computer parts, while de-consolidation may make it easier to deliver large amounts of retail clothing to more outlets.
Products Best Suited for Cross Docking
Cross docking isn't ideal for every product. The products best suited for cross docking include:
- Items that do not require any quality testing or inspection before sale
- Pre-chosen items that are pre-packaged to meet a customer’s order
- Items ready for immediate sale that already have a barcode
- Retail items that with a steady demand and low variance
- Promotional items
- Perishable items
The above list demonstrates that the best cross docking products are those that are already ready or can quickly be made ready for sale or final delivery.
How Cross Docking Can Benefit Your Business
The benefits of cross docking can be extensive when implemented with the right products. Some of the ways cross docking can improve your product shipment process include:
- An overall streamlining of the distribution process
- Lower labor costs because of a reduction in the handling of each product
- Less warehouse space required to house products
- Increased savings through the reduction in required warehouse space
- Improved customer satisfaction because of increased speed of delivery
- Reduced risk of product mishandling
- Reduced risk of perishable products spoiling
- Potential reduction in environmental footprint
While not every cross docking experience will necessarily involve all of the above benefits, it is clear that businesses can make significant gains in key areas of their business simply by using this strategy when appropriate.
The Risks Associated with Cross Docking
It would be unrealistic to suggest cross docking is always easy or optimal for every business. As with all product delivery options, there are risks and difficulties associated with cross docking. Some of the risks include:
- A greater risk of lost inventory
- Potential risk for product damage, particularly with inexperienced handlers
- Potential difficulties accommodating changed practices at some facilities
In addition, cross docking places some very significant requirements on businesses, such as:
- A large transportation fleet to accommodate faster and more direct shipment practices
- A high-quality logistics system to track all inventory and shipments
- Significant extra training for all handlers
- A tight product control process
- Potential changes to warehouse docking design to accommodate the process
Despite these risks, cross docking can be a net positive for many businesses.
Ensure the Safest and Most Efficient Docking Process
The true benefit of cross docking is the speed and efficiency you add to your business. Another way to improve the speed, efficiency, and safety of your docking is by using the best docking parts.
At Parts Brite, we pride ourselves in providing the highest quality aftermarket loading dock parts that your business needs. We have the ability to ship anywhere in the country, providing you quick access to the parts that make that crucial difference in loading and unloading your products. To learn more, contact us at 1-855-PARTSBRITE.