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Cross Docking in Warehouse

Cross Docking in Warehouse
November 26, 2015

Productivity and speed are the two major criteria in supply chain and logistics. Cross-docking is just one strategy which can be implemented to help achieve a modest advantage. Implemented appropriately and in the right conditions, cross-docking can provide significant improvements in efficiency and handling times. 

What is cross docking?

The name ‘cross docking’ explains the process of receiving products through an inbound dock and then transferring them across the dock to the outbound transportation dock.

Cross docking is a procedure in logistics industry where products from a supplier or manufacturing plant are distributed directly to a customer or wholesale chain with marginal to no handling or storage time.  Cross docking takes place in a distribution docking terminal; usually consisting of trucks and dock doors on two (inbound and outbound) sides with minimal storage space. 

In modest languages, inbound products arrive through road transportation such as trucks/trailers, and are assigned to a receiving dock on one side of the ‘cross dock’ terminal.  Once the inbound transportation has been docked its products can be moved either directly or indirectly to the outbound destinations; then they can be unloaded, sorted and screened and other processes gets completed to identify their end destinations.  After being sorted, products are moved to the other end of the ‘cross dock’ terminal via a MHE’s, conveyor belt, pallet truck or another means of transportation to their destined outbound dock.  When the outbound transportation has been loaded, the products can then make their way to customers.

When is cross-docking used?

The process of cross docking will not outfit all warehouses needs. It is therefore important to make a conversant decision as to whether cross-docking will increase the productivity, costs and customer satisfaction for your specific business.  Cross docking can improve the supply chain for a variety of specific products.  For instance, unpreserved or temperature controlled items such as food which need to be transported as quickly as possible can be benefitted by this process.  Additionally, already packaged and sorted products ready for transportation to a particular customer can become a faster and more efficient process through cross docking. 

Some of the main reasons cross docking is executed is to:

  • Provide a vital site for products to be sorted and similar products combined and delivered to multiple destinations in the most cost effective and fastest way.  This process is also known as “hub and spoke”
  • Conglomerate various smaller product loads into one mode of transport to save transportation costs.  This process is defined as ‘consolidation processes’.
  • Break down large product loads into smaller loads for transportation to create an easier delivery process to the customer.  This process is defined as ‘deconsolidation processes’.

Designing the cross docking facility

Cross-dock facilities are generally designed in an "I" configuration for facilities with 150 doors or less. The goal in using this shape is to maximize the number of inbound and outbound doors that can be added to the facility while keeping the floor area inside the facility to a minimum.

For facilities with 150–200 doors, a "T" shape is more cost effective.

For facilities with 200 or more doors, the cost-minimizing shape is an "X".


Cross docking is the process which is followed to move the shipments without storing the cargos in logistics and distribution. HCL is focussed on building new solutions and propositions to meet increasing customer expectations in the 3PL industry.