While crossdocking provides many benefits over conventional warehousing, the success of this supply-chain solution hinges mainly on the capacities and skills of the selected service provider.
Quinton de Villiers, managing director of Bridgewater Logistics, says that many businesses simply do not spend enough time assessing the relative risks associated with a specific supplier.
“It is critical that they also have a thorough understanding of the pre-requisites for a successful crossdocking solution. I would, therefore, encourage any business interested in this solution to first visit the terminals of their potential suppliers to judge for themselves whether they have the capacity to deliver according to expectation,” De Villiers says.
Firstly, a third-party logistics provider will have the necessary storage space to adequately deal with inventory, considering that crossdocking is intended to cut transport and logistics costs by eliminating the need for warehousing.
They also achieve this ultimate objective by meticulously calculating the cross-dock to eradicate the risk of congesting the system and damaging goods due to additional freight handling.
Importantly, he notes that the design and management of the system also needs to be thoroughly scrutinised before appointing any service provider.
“When it comes to crossdocking, the devil is definitely in the detail,” De Villiers notes.
“Bridgewater Logistics has ploughed significant effort into developing its world-class crossdocking systems. In addition to time and planning, a sizeable investment was also required to design a solution that works effectively, which includes the ability to consistently deliver the correct product in its right amount on time.”
Other critical details that also should not be overlooked include the materials-handling systems, such as in-motion labelling and weighing, label verification and destination scan, deployed inside the terminal.
This is in addition to the methods used to minimise packaging costs and the capacity to screen products more efficiently to reduce the time parcels spend in shipment.
Bridgewater Logistics’ customers continue to benefit from the lower transportation and distribution costs provided by its state-of-the-art crossdocking system.
It has been designed to ensure that products destined for a similar end point can be transported together to ensure full loads for each trip, while a hub-and-spoke system optimises route planning to eliminate unnecessary processes, such as “pick-location” or “order picking”.
This has driven down fuel and associated vehicle service costs, while products can also be delivered sooner to customers due to accelerated screening processes.