Manufacturers and suppliers are constantly on the lookout for better ways to reduce warehouse space and run more efficient logistics operations for a more flexible inventory. Different tactics can come into play that require some level of adaptation on the part of distributors, warehouses and suppliers along with their workers. Mobile warehouse inventory management can be a great way of incorporating different methods of warehousing management without having to incorporate a lot of hardware. One strategy where mobile devices with enterprise resource planning software can be a great benefit is cross docking, which mitigates much of the need for warehouses.
A terminal instead of a warehouse
The standard method of operation in the distribution phase of the supply chain is that a manufacturer delivers completed products to a warehouse. The items then get placed on a delivery truck to go to another distributor or directly to the store. The stocking part is often a sticking point for many manufacturers, since it requires owning or leasing space for inventory. Sometimes products don’t need to go through the process of being stocked before reaching a store, yet they still do.
Cross docking addresses this problem directly. As explained by forklift provider adaptalift Hyster, trucks filled with a product deliver not to a warehouse but to a cross docking terminal or distribution center. At this point, the trucks unload into a receiving dock. From there, the distributor has a few options: It can move the products in question to a receiving outbound transport that will go directly to a particular store or customer. In a larger operation, what a distributor can do is screen a variety of items, sort them based on store demand, then reload outbound trucks through the use of pallets and conveyors for delivery to customers. At no point is an item held.
Yahoo reported cross docking is one of the key strategies underpinning retail giant Wal-Mart. For many of its concepts, primarily the Everyday Low Price, the ability to move merchandise quickly and efficiently without storing them is essential.
For want of a warehouse
One of the primary benefits of cross docking is it mitigates the need for a warehouse. Instead of storing goods, they can go straight to the store with minimal loss in time. This is particularly useful in goods in high demand or are environmentally sensitive such as perishables. Moreover, a company doesn’t need to own or lease warehouse space, which can save a lot of money over the long term.
However, cross docking isn’t for everyone. It requires extensive coordination on the part of everyone in the supply chain as well as its management to ensure the right items go into the correct hands, according to adaptalift Hyster. Mobile warehouse inventory management software can help with this process to some degree. The concept also demands a lot of planning and cooperation with suppliers for it to work, since the products must be customer-ready. Such organization means only distributors that can deploy economies of scale in their operations can truly deploy this strategy.
Still, this system has its benefits. It allows companies to deploy different distribution strategies to save money and become efficient. For example, they can use a hub-and-spoke strategy that uses the cross dock terminal as a distribution center, moving products to specific destinations. It can also allow for adjustments to product loads. If a firm wanted to save on transportation costs, it can consolidate small loads into one package for an individual store. On the other hand, it can also deconsolidate to better move specific merchandise to a variety of customers. In any situation, cross docking presents the right distributor a lot of flexibility.
To learn more about how mobile warehouse inventory management can work for you, download the Warehouse Mobile Data Dynamics NAV Module Data Sheet today.