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Cross Docking Optimization: Opt for 3PL Efficiency

A warehouse shelf is pushed through a cross dock warehouse
Cross Docking Optimization: Opt for 3PL Efficiency
Toda,y as companies search for ways to get products to their customers faster, many are opting to outsource shipping to 3PLs for optimized cross docking services. It’s a supply chain solution that is growing in popularity. Cross docking involves the arrival of inbound products which are then proce
By Josh Kimble
 | October 21, 2019
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Last Modified: September 11, 2023

Toda,y as companies search for ways to get products to their customers faster, many are opting to outsource shipping to 3PLs for optimized cross docking services. It’s a supply chain solution that is growing in popularity.

Cross docking involves the arrival of inbound products which are then processed for waiting outbound trucks headed for final destination. Optimized cross docking services mean speedier shipping for inbound and outbound freight, reduced storage costs, and efficient delivery.

The central focus of a cross docking terminal is to have a short turnaround time from the point when the freight arrives until it is loaded on an outbound truck and headed for the final destination. A few ways to optimize crossing speed are outlined here to help businesses make the most of their investment.

Trucks outside the loading=

Cross Docking by Definition

Let’s start with a definition of cross docking to understand how it all works. Basically, a shipment of goods arrives at the inbound dock via truck trailers. The freight is unloaded and sorted for the assigned outbound semi-trailer truck. This critical step is the process of streamlining freight distribution from the manufacturing plant to the customer.

Ideal shipments are already palletized or in smaller packages and can be transferred from one point to another. The process means freight is handled less because it’s in and out so quick. There is no need for storage like in a traditional warehouse setting.

Cross Docking Optimization

A point for businesses to remember is that cross docking happens quickly. Shipments are scheduled to arrive at the inbound dock and leave via the outbound dock in a short amount of time. This means time is of the essence.

The days of sending truckloads of freight to a 3PL warehouse and then waiting to ship it are gone. Now, it’s all about how fast products can arrive and the quicker the better! You're depending on a seamless process to manage the shipping side. 

So before venturing into cross docking, companies need to be dedicated to shipping at a fast pace to keep everything moving to fulfill orders promptly. While there will be problems from time to time, it should be a rare occurrence.

At Transload Services USA, we take our cross docking optimization seriously. When you partner with us, you can expect:

  • Prompt processing of your freight inbound and outbound
  • Quicker delivery time to customers
  • Less storage time in the warehouse
  • Consolidation of inventory
  • Cost savings

Inventory Management

As eCommerce continues to grow, it is imperative for companies to have an excellent inventory management system in place. The system will handle the bulk of the load to get shipments where they need to go on time.

The use of technology to track goods throughout the cross dock facility makes it easy for shippers to get a real-time view of the process. It allows for product levels to be adjusted if needed based on flow. In the long run this helps save money and time because it prevents any downtime.

To help this process, businesses should make sure the shipment is well labeled to aid in the sorting process once it arrives at the dock. While it seems like a small step, just ensuring the labels and other documents are in place can expedite the process and ensure cross docking optimization.

In addition, scheduling shipments is a key function for businesses when working with a cross docking facility. Especially when shipping large quantities of freight, coordination keeps the process moving smoothly for inbound and outbound freight. So, as you can see, a good inventory management system makes everything work like clockwork.

Distance to Delivery

One thing that helps businesses get products to customers in a timely fashion is by using centralized locations. So it means if bulk goods are coming from one location or several vendors, consolidation occurs during cross docking to make final delivery which is typically within a specific radius of the facility.

The distance to delivery is always something that needs to be factored into the overall timeline and how to make it cost-effective. Think of it as the hub and spoke model - the docking facility serves as the hub, the main processing location for a region and the spokes represent the various lanes for inbound and outbound vehicles. In order to maximize the speed of cross docking, the distance to delivery must be well maintained and manageable to fulfill short timelines on a consistent basis. So the shipper and the warehouse must work in unison to get the job done.

Wrapped pallets await cross docking services

Retail Cross Docking

Retailers distributing large quantities of merchandise often depend on cross docking to get goods from the manufacturer to store shelves or to the customer’s door. Typically, retailers may have several items coming from different vendors that will be consolidated into one shipment headed for outbound trucks. In other instances, retailers offering subscription services to customers can use the cross docking option for deconsolidation arrangements to expedite delivery to customers within a specified region.

The retail cross docking option requires coordination just like it does for other supply chain sectors. Shippers should contract with a cross docking facility optimized to handle their freight without any complications. Timing is everything in retail, so a reliable cross docking plan is critical for retail customer service.

Optimize Your Cross Docking Services with Transload Services USA

In addition to optimizing our cross docking services, we offer solutions for many of your other needs, including:

Let our professional team assist in finding the right solution for cross docking your shipment. Give us a call at (866) 757-1109 to talk to an agent on the R+L Logistics team about cross docking options to suit your needs.

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