Cross-Docking and Deconsolidation

Cross-docking is a logistics operation.  The primary concept is unloading materials from an incoming semi-trailer or a rail car, and loading the materials into other trailers/rail cars with no storage time between.  This can happen to change transport types, to sort, or combine material intended for different locations.

Often done directly, with little, or no warehousing.  Many cross-dock operations need large staging areas where inbound materials are sorted, consolidated, and kept until the out-bound shipment is complete, and ready to ship.  If the staging takes hours, or a day the operation is usually referred to as a cross-dock distribution center (DC).  If the operation takes several days, or even weeks, the operation is usually considered warehousing.

Common scenario

  1. Retailers send a purchase order to a vendor containing many ‘mark-for’
    locations being shipped to one distribution center, or warehouse.  The
    purchase order (EDI 850), contains one SDQ segment for each store.

  2. When the vendor receives the order they pack each store’s required items
    separately, but as a part of the whole shipment. 

  3. When all the shipment information is gathered, cartons packed, UCC-labels
    (Now: GS1) on cartons, the ASN (EDI Advanced Shipment Notification), is sent
    to the retailer.

  4. Carrier comes, picks up goods, delivers to the retail distribution center,
    or warehouse.

  5. Labels, or LPNs (License Plate Number) are scanned as goods are coming off the Carrier’s truck.  This updates inventory by checking off the receipt of the goods, in addition to identifying which store they are intended for.  

  6. Once the store destination is read by the scanner either people or conveyors
    route the carton to the appropriate loading dock to await transport to its
    final destination.

Those six steps describe a process generically.  Consult each of your trading partner’s documentation to ensure your team is managing this process correctly. #cross-docking

Deconsolidation and cross docking