Transparency at the Cross Dock

In today's 24/7/365 world, speed is a competitive differentiator across nearly every industry.

In the logistics sector, the need for speed has translated to a rise in the frequency with which companies have embraced the practice of cross docking — transferring an order from one truck to the next in real-time to eliminate the need for warehousing.

Whether it's perishable food being delivered to a restaurant in time for the evening dinner prep, medical supplies on the way to a pharmacy, or a specialty car part on its way to the dealership's repair shop, getting products to consumers on time and in great condition is the single most important task of suppliers and the customers they serve. Even one component of an order that is misplaced or damaged along its route can be the difference between a happy customer and one who takes his business elsewhere.

At the cross dock, this need for speed represents a troubling conundrum for supply chain managers dedicated to ensuring the perfect order.

While trucks pulling up to a cross dock are assuredly more controlled, it's easy for similar mishaps to occur as multiple trucks arrive to unload and load their respective orders, often dispersing orders from one truck onto several different trucks. This is particularly true when you consider that today's companies increasingly must rely on outsourced transportation and delivery services from third party logistics providers (3PLs) to ensure items arrive as promised. Add in traditional paper-based tracking and inventory systems that must be handed off to multiple “owners,” and companies are experiencing greater room for errors and greater challenges in identifying, backtracking, and rectifying those errors.

Still, it's up to companies to ensure the customer experience. That means ensuring transparency before, at, and after the cross dock. One of the best ways to ensure that transparency is to have a common tracking system used by logistics personnel throughout the delivery process. Regardless of size, location, or product, every organization can benefit from an electronic proof of delivery system (ePoD) that connects companies and 3PLs, eliminating the waste and inaccuracies associated with paper tracking and streamlining delivery.

ePoD makes it possible for each shipment or order to be individually tracked throughout the chain of custody, with each stop noted and logged, final recipient sign-off, and electronic capture of any issues or comments that are then submitted back through a common system. During cross docking, automation ensures that each item can be quickly scanned, reconciled against what was expected to be received and moved to its next transport vehicle swiftly and accurately, logging any problems or exceptions in each instance.

As today's organizations operate in a world of “next day,” “same day,” even “one-hour” delivery expectations, understanding that speed and transparency are a critical pairing is essential to reaching that elusive goal — the perfect order.

Let us know about your experiences with ePoD in the electronics industry in the comments section below.

2 comments on “Transparency at the Cross Dock

  1. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    June 9, 2014

    How do you see these trends evolving in the electronics industry? Are there certain sectors or situations in the electronics industry where this type of thing comes into play more?

  2. Michael B. Lee
    June 12, 2014

    Hi Hailey, good question.

    It's safe to say that the electronics industry's supply chain has exponentially increased in complexity over the past decade, perhaps more so than the majority of other verticals. With so many new technologies and updated versions of existing products launched each year, and the ever-increasing regulations around what materials can be used, it is imperative  that companies insure the integrity and authenticity of component parts as well as their finished product throughout the supply chain.

    To do so, parts suppliers and finished products manufacturers must have access to real-time visibility from their distribution ecosystem, which typically involves third-party distributors, on the status of their part or product distribution. Transparency in the supply chain and particularly at the cross dock can only help to improve efficiency of the whole chain, ultimately insuring brand reputation and customer satisfaction levels along the way.

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