For those who are unaware of what cross docking in a logistics operation is, this article will share insights not only into what cross docking is but also how it works and what benefits it can provide to a transport company.
Cross docking in logistics is when transport jobs are temporarily stored/sorted in a holding area between the pickup and delivery. This allows deliveries to be bought in bulk, sorted, and then sent back out again in a short period of time.
Take for example Roving Logistics, a refrigerated logistics company I used to own in Sydney and which I sold in 2015.
The majority of our freight was cross docked. During the day we would go out and pick up transport jobs in bulk from our clients. These were companies selling refrigerated products like cheeses, fresh pastas and gourmet yoghurts to delis. We would bring them back to our depot and split them up into different areas, "delivery runs" that the stock was going out on for delivery.
A single pallet from one customer might contain 30 to 40 different deliveries that needed to be done. When sorting, our warehouse management system would let us know what stock we would need to separate so we could put them into different areas based on where they were going to be delivered.
We had one area for South Sydney, one area for North Sydney and one area for East Sydney, etc.
This process of bringing stock in, breaking it down and splitting it into these different delivery runs as we called them is what is coined "cross docking".
Cross docking differs from traditional warehousing because stock is not being stored for a long period of time. In addition, the stock items (ie: products) are not tracked to SKU level, just tracked as deliveries, much like a courier parcel. All that matters is ensuring that the delivery is made on time.