In relation to our last class session and what it has to do particularly with logistic warehouses, cross – docking is an alternative that is configured and positioned within the logistic sector and the supply chain. Cross docking (also called dock crossing), refers to a logistic technique in which storage time is non-existent or limited. In short, it seeks the possibility of carrying out the entire logistics process in the shortest possible time and without having to incur higher storage costs.
Cross-docking can be adapted to any merchandise: it does not matter if it is raw materials, finished articles or components destined for factories, physical stores or final customers. Following the cross-docking strategy, the goods remain in the warehouse for a very short time after receipt. Furthermore, with this methodology, it is not placed on the shelves and therefore it is not necessary to carry out the picking process. This is the origin of the term in English, since the operation only requires crossing the docks of the warehouse.
¿ How do cross-docking operations work?
In a traditional supply chain, the warehouse represents a key link connecting suppliers (supply) to consumers (demand). This flow is discontinuous, since supply and demand are not synchronized and the link is based on the figure of the warehouse. The goods are stored there until the demand is activated.
However, the advance of information systems and software applied to logistics has led to increasingly agile and integrated supply chains. It is in this context that cross-docking becomes popular, since the key to the success of this working methodology is the perfect coordination of all those involved: suppliers, warehousemen, transporters and end users.
Phases of cross-docking
In general we can conclude that the main phases of the cross-docking operation are:
- Distribution scheduling by suppliers.
- Reception of the goods in the warehouse.
- Recording and reviewing of cargo received as part of the quality control procedure.
- Repacking, consolidation of orders (if necessary) and dispatch of the goods
Types of cross-docking
The cross-docking activity can be carried out with different loading units (pallets, boxes, kits…). There are different ways to organize the types of cross-docking, but if we look at the steps required to perform it, we can highlight.
Pre-distributed cross-docking: The pre-distributed one represents the most basic cross-docking model. In it, the load units are already prepared and organized by the supplier taking into account the final demand. Therefore, the cross-docking operation is limited to receiving the goods and dispatching them without further intervention by the warehouse workers.
Consolidated cross-docking: In a consolidated cross-docking scheme, the goods do have to be handled to adapt them to the requirements of the end customer. Then, the load units received are transferred to a cross-docking zone or conditioning area where theya are examined and adjusted to the orders demanded.
This may involve organizing pallets from smaller loading units or vice versa: dividing the goods into individual packages or product kits.
Hybrid Cross-Docking: This is a more complex type of cross-docking that involves preparing orders in the conditioning area by taking part of the
goods from the trucks received and part of those already stored in the facility. In these cases, the goods received can be moved to a temporary storage area instead of directly applying cross-docking.