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Cross docking is an easy way to improve warehouse efficiency across any supply chain that has a lot of freight coming in – but there’s a lot that goes into these strategies.

A lot of companies, to put it simply, don’t fully understand their cross docking strategies before implementing them, and as a result they end up with a lot of blind spots or bottlenecks that hamper their overall efficiency. If you want to make sure your cross docking strategy works as effectively as possible with your inventory, your workers, and your previously-existing warehouse strategies, here’s a few tips to try to prevent snags:

Get your items to their destination more quickly.

One of the goals of cross docking is to get items from the inbound loading center to the outbound shipping areas as quickly as possible without a lot of waiting time. A good way to cut down on the time this takes is to physically move the items as fast as you can, with implements like conveyor belts and gravity flow racks to transport products more quickly than they would go by hand.

Minimize the usage of dock space.

In cross-docking, the docks should be kept as free as possible to allow inbound and outbound trailers and shipping vehicles enough space to work. Try to keep the amount of warehouse shelving in these areas to a minimum – with cross docking, you ideally wouldn’t give your items enough time in the warehouse to require shelving in those areas, and any other product can be handled by transporting them to the main shop floor for storage and handling.

Make sure the staging area is well-organized.

Once products arrive at the outbound dock, they may need further handling before they can be shipped out. Keep some wire shelving and work benches near your outbound dock to make sure everything can be organized and packed properly before being sent off. This will save time and keep everyone on the same page, organization-wise, and help get packages packed and shipped as fast as possible.

Keep everything properly barcoded.

Hopefully you’ve already got your inventory tracked with barcodes and a well-planned management system, but this goes double during cross-docking. Make sure you have a barcode system that can recognize packages as they come in without the need for additional tagging, and try to minimize the steps in the process – no matter how fast your cross-docking is, it isn’t going to make any difference if you need to spend additional time tracking the items as they come in.

Make sure you have the best team possible.

Cross-docking requires a special set of skills in order to move the products as effectively as possible, and there is always a period of adjustment when training new staff for the cross-docking operation. Take some time to hand-pick some of your more experienced staff and supervisors to place them in charge of the cross-docking and product movement and keep them as up-to-date as possible on any changes in policy and procedure to keep everything flowing as fast as it can. Otherwise, what’s the point of cross-docking?

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