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  April 14th, 2023 | Written by

Pros and Cons of Different Types of Cross-Docking

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There are, essentially, two different types of cross-docking you can choose to do. They are the pre-distribution cross-docking and post-distribution cross-docking. Whereas pre-distribution cross docking uses predetermined distribution instructions to allow workers to unload immediately, sort through the goods, repackage them directly, and have them shipped out then and there, post-distribution is different. In post-distribution cross-docking, the workers do not have predetermined distribution instructions.

As such, goods are unloaded and then must spend some time at the warehouse or distribution facility before the orders are properly sorted, and distribution instructions are drafted. From there, they are again packaged, loaded up, and delivered. Of course, the waiting period is not too long, even in this second type of cross-docking. To help you decide which of the two methods you’d like to use, let’s look at the pros and cons of different types of cross-docking more closely.

The pros of pre-distribution cross-docking

Faster distribution

The first difference between the different types of cross-docking and a pro in pre-distribution’s favor is, of course, that it’s a lot faster. Since a distribution list is complete, the workers can immediately load up the goods without delay. Before you even know it, your goods will move to their final destinations. This also makes it a lot easier to avoid missing deadlines. However, it’s not smart to reduce them further to give yourself enough time in an emergency.

No need for a lot of storage space

The second pro in favor of pro-distribution when comparing the different types of cross-docking is that you don’t need much storage space. You need enough space to park your trucks and some for the necessary equipment. But since the goods are moving from one truck to another, that’s about it. You don’t need to learn a ton about logistics to glean the benefits of this. Primarily, of course, saving money you’d typically need to spend on large warehouses.

The cons of Pre-distribution cross-docking

Lots of potential for human error

Since pre-distribution requires much work to be done quickly, the first con is that it also increases human error chances. Sure, it can effectively alleviate warehousing and fulfillment stress, but when people rush to unload, pack, and load up goods again. Eventually, a mistake will crop up, which can be anything from damaged items to wrongly labeled packages.

Little time to account for accidents and problems

We mentioned responding to emergencies in the first pro of pre-distribution cross-docking. Well, you need to give yourself enough leeway with deadlines because this method is not excellent at responding to problems. Since everything is supposed to happen as one continuous action, if a problem pops up anywhere, everything grinds to a halt until it’s resolved. You need to be extremely careful and plan ahead to avoid this effectively. And even then, road congestion and similar unpredictable accidents still adversely affect your operations.

The pros of post-distribution cross-docking

More time to plan your deliveries

The first pro of post-distribution is the fact you have time to plan. While you wait for the distribution instructions to be complete, you can chart the most optimal routes. Make plans for emergencies. You even have time to double-check that all your goods are in proper condition! The pre-distribution does not allow this, and it’s a significant advantage.

Less pressure on your workers

The second significant benefit of post-distribution is that your workers do not have to push themselves so much. They can take a proper break with a delay between unloading and packaging. In the long term, this keeps the workplace happier and your workers healthier and more effective at their jobs. In turn, they can more reliably avoid common types of packaging damage and a host of other human errors that can seriously hurt your business if they keep happening.

The cons of post-distribution cross-docking

The need for warehousing space

The first and the biggest problem of post-distribution cross-docking is, of course, the need for warehousing space. This means your business will have to expand many more resources to furnish warehouses with everything they need to function. Take into account that cross-docking is also popular for more temperature-sensitive items. This is because they can be moved from one climate-controlled to another quickly. In other words, you also need to ensure the warehouse has the suitable condition to protect the items from degrading, which is yet another additional expense you’d need to bear! 

The process has the potential to stall

The final con of post-distribution when comparing the different types of cross-docking is the chance for it to stall. You need to wait for the distribution list to be completed. This is not an issue on a good day since you can expect to earmark most of your inventory at least. But, when interest drops, you need longer waiting times to create a distribution list. In turn, many of your trucks and workers are just idling and waiting for instruction.

Picking from the different types of cross-docking

Now that you are familiar with the pros and cons of different types of cross-docking, you can decide which works best for you. Just remember to take into account everything about your business when making the decision, including, of course, your current and predicted levels of demand.

Author Bio

Jack Bailey is an experienced manager who works for the Royal Moving Company and has plenty of experience with arranging the quick and efficient transfers of equipment and other items needed for the company.