Increase Cross Dock Efficiency With These 5 Tips

Cross dock

Cross dock is a term that refers to the method of taking freight from one inbound truck and directly placing it on the outbound carrier. 

Instead of stocking the goods, they just keep moving right there on the spot. This reduction in storage times saves time and valuable real estate space.

Although cross dock services seem simple on the surface, they can be quite tedious in execution.

The speed and efficiency at which freight must be transitioned with this method require a ton of organization and confidence.

If you are trying to increase the efficiency of your cross dock services, try out these 5 tips!


Choose the most proper platform shape for your cross dock processes

Cross dock platforms tend are usually constructed in the shape of the letters “I”, “L” or “T”. Although, many other custom shapes are also available.

Companies with the liberty of choosing the shape of their cross dock platform should take this consideration seriously, as there are certain designs that are simply more effective.

A study conducted in 2004 found that the most efficient shape depends on the size of the LTL or retail operation. More specifically,  an “I” shape is most efficient for cross docks operating with 150 doors or less.

A “T” shape is ideal for operations of 150 to 200 doors, and an “X” shape is best for cross docks with more than 200 doors.


Leave a significant amount of space available for staging

Space plays an important role in the efficiency of cross dock services even for smaller operations. Because of the short transition between inbound and outbound shipping, there will be at least two trailers present for every shipment.

In order to keep these trailers from causing a disruption in the cross-docking process, there needs to be a significant amount of yard space available. This will offer both inbound and outbound trailers enough space to stage properly.


Use conveyor systems to move products within the warehouse

Freight must be constantly moved from one loading dock to another.

Moving your shipments by hand is not the fastest or safest method available. If possible, you should be utilizing conveyor belt systems to help expedite the transition of freight from one trailer to the next.

Gravity rollers, along with other moveable conveyors, are efficient options that don’t take up too much space. These conveyor systems also help to maintain the integrity of the freight by reducing the time it is handled.


Utilize a management system

There are a lot of moving parts within a cross-docking operation. You have the delivery, processing, and unloading of the inbound shipments, the transition of the products through the warehouse and the preparation, loading, and delivery of the outbound shipments.

Even the slightest hiccups during any of these transition points can cause major delays and even damage the freight. You can help avoid these problems and streamline efficiency by properly configuring a management system.

Whether using TMS or WMS, the added oversight and metrics will help organize and amplify the efficiency of your cross dock services.


Maintain a clean and organized warehouse


Increasing the efficiency of your cross dock services doesn’t always have to involve fancy software or complicated algorithms. Sometimes the most basic housekeeping methods end up being the most logical solution.

Maintaining a clean warehouse is critical to a smoothly-running cross dock platform.

Employees cannot efficiently move freight from one loading dock to another when there are obstructions in their path. Taking time to clear this transition space a few times a day can help reduce these delays.


Final Thoughts

When implemented properly, cross dock services can help shipping companies save a significant amount of time and money.

This distribution strategy has been shown to lower labor costs, increase shipping speed and reduce storage quantities. These five strategies will help put you on the right path for optimizing the efficiency of your cross dock services.