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The cross-dock, literally “Cross dock“, is a place between suppliers and the customer.


The cross-dock, literally “Cross dock“, is a place between suppliers and the customer. It is a principle created in the years 1980 by Wal-Mart in the United States1, and then very widely taken over by the automotive sector. Subject to the problems of product expiration, they developed this concept at a time when storage times were very important.

This place has a stake in differentiating the supplier flows from the customer stream. In other words, to reorganize the different products from different suppliers, in the sequence and the time required by the customer. The interest of such a system is multiple:

  • We increase the number of delivery (same concept as the Milkrun).
  • We’re cutting stocks.
  • We sequence and smooth the supplies.

This system is mainly used for perishable goods. On its principle, the Cross-Dock is not a storage area. It allows only a redistribution of the goods and thus to reduce the costs and the delivery time. Nevertheless, it is necessary to have a very good control of the upstream flows and set up a synchronized flow between: The customer, the carrier, the Cross-Dock and the supplier.

The principle

Trucks full of goods arrive at the Cross-Dock in a certain order. These are unloaded and the goods are redistributed according to the customer orders. We find 3 types of Cross-Dock2 :

  • The goods arrive with the customer’s shipping label already. It is a matter of making a simple wharf crossing, no task of preparation is necessary.
  • The goods arrive in ” bulk “, the staff of the Cross-Dock must sort and carry out the labelling of the customer.
  • The goods arrive but are of two kinds: one is of the Cross-Dock type and will be treated according to one of the two preceding methods. The other part of the command is stored on the platform and is therefore not in the ” flow ” of the Cross-Dock.

The goal is to separate the upstream stream from the downstream flow of the downstream stream and to have a fair delivery. It is noted that the merchandise only passes through the Cross-Dock, it remains only at the maximum 24hr.


1-R. Ray (2010) – Supply Chain Management for retailling

2 – M. Roux, G. Fleury (2012) – Pilot your logistics platform

R. V. Altekar (2005) – Supply Chain Management, concepts and cases

J. Shah (2009) – Supply Chain Management, text and cases

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