Transloading and cross docking each use very different strategies to achieve the same end: reducing the costs of the supply chain. Both involve product handling and delivery to any of many different destinations. Both seek to increase the speed to market. Both consolidate the number of products into as few shipping steps as possible and both can handle customization of products. There are, however, core differences in the methods used. It’s important to understand these differences.
Is Cross Docking Better than Transloading?
Cross Dock Services
Cross dock services are used by many big box and chain retailers within their distribution chains. These services unload a truck and transfer the goods or products directly onto another truck for delivery to and end point. Items are stored only temporarily for transfer to another truck, which reduces the need for storage space and reduces turnaround time significantly—often, the time from shipment to receipt of an item is less than a day.
This form of shipment means that the carrier, shipper and 3PL must be exceptional, and coordination has to be top-notch. Any data involving shipping can create holes in the supply chain and cause unacceptable delays and errors.
Transloading, on the other hand, uses inbound ocean containers to ship mass amounts of cargo. In fact, the amount of cargo being shipped is expected to double in the next six years. When a company utilizes transloading, there are storage facilities at port terminals, through which cargo is transferred from one shipping unit to another.
Normally, in this form of shipping, a container is transferred from an international shipping carrier such as an ocean-bound vessel, into a storage facility, where it is then moved to a domestic carrier. The items offloaded from the ship will be palleted and classified before loading onto the truck.
This method of shipping saves money in the transfer from the container to the truck. The major dangers of this sort of shipping, however, come in the storage at the port. There could be delays in initial transfer as well as damages and losses from theft.
Speed to Market
Both cross dock and transloading services seek to increase the speed a product reaches market from its production facility. This is the key requirement in any efficient supply chain. By using product consolidation and direct shipping while avoiding long-term storage delays and costs, cross dock and transloading shipments seek to build more efficient and cost-effective supply chains. As computer technology advances, both of these services will likely increase their efficiency and speed as the years to come, and will continue to be favored methods of getting the supply to the demand.
Of course, the proper crating materials are always needed for any method of shipping. If you are planning to transport any form of cargo, regardless of the size of your business or your supply chain, feel free to give us a call. Our broad range of shipping and crating materials are perfect for any materials you need to ship, and we are happy to help.