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Streamline Your Order Fulfillment with Automated Systems

Crossing docking is a process of receiving and shipping goods in a way that minimizes both touches and time in storage. In a traditional scenario, the process involves two docks, one for inbound and the other for outbound freight. Goods are received, sorted, and immediately shipped, without leaving the receiving department.

With the increased efficiencies enabled by automated solutions, fulfillment companies increasingly employ cross docking as an efficient means of sorting and routing product to many different destinations, without slotting goods in storage. With cross docking, companies can:

    • consolidate multiple inbound shipments into a single outbound trailer
    • quickly sort similar items onto different vehicles, each with their own destination
    • break pallets or cases into smaller units for delivery

At PeakLogix, we’re a brand agnostic material handling systems integrator that specializes in innovative, bespoke automated solutions. By partnering with us, you can increase the consistency and efficiency of your distribution processes, from inbound receiving to outbound shipments and everything in between. We deliver customized solutions tailored to our partner’s needs that address issues ranging from ergonomics and employee safety to fully automated warehousing solutions.

Considerations for cross docking implementation

Rate of returns and restocking

Reverse logistics is a notoriously expensive aspect of omnichannel fulfillment models. Companies either have to accept a near total loss on returned goods, or devise a system that can receive, process, assess, sort, and send resellable goods back into inventory and damaged goods to the claims department.

Companies that have a high rate of returns can benefit from employing a cross docking system that can automatically sort returns and streamline the process of either writing them off, or putting them back into the system and restocking them.

Timing and duration of seasonal peaks

For industries that experience seasonal peaks, cross docking can be used to alleviate many of the pain points associated with shifting consumer demands. Creating or using flex space near the receiving department to hold seasonal goods can allow fast moving merchandise to be quickly staged, processed, and shipped, without the extra step of sending goods to long-term storage.

Merchandise that is cross docked in this way may not move directly between docks, but instead will be briefly staged in the warehouse so as to minimize put away and retrieval processing.

Location, footprint, and layout options

Efficient cross docking requires a well designed layout that allows product to remain organized while being processed. The exact layout will depend on the usable space, as well as the facility’s throughput. A facility that relies on automated sortation conveyors to transport product to many different docks will look very different from a system that’s focused on consolidation.

The number of docks dedicated to cross docking, the amount of normal receiving and shipping operations still ongoing, and whether the process will be year round or only seasonal also play a role. The peak in sales for winter holidays, for example, often require more space than other times of the year. To maximize productivity year round, having flex space capable of meeting these shifting needs is often best.

Current technologies

While in theory cross docking can be done with nothing more than manual labor, it’s the application of modern technologies that have made the practice as profitable as it is. A typical cross docking facility uses some combination of:

  • Portable computers or warehouse wearables
  • Automated barcode labelers and scanners
  • Automated storage and retrieval systems
  • Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)
  • Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

You’ll also need a stable internet connection, as well as Wi-Fi throughout the cross docking area.

Inventory control supporting software

In addition to hardware that’s appropriate to your needs, you’ll also need a Warehouse Management System (WMS) capable of handling all of the many variables that cross docking operations entail. Your facility will need to know how many trucks are in-bound, which docks they’ll use for drop off, every item they’re carrying, how those items will be sorted and processed, and which docks they’ll be moved to before being shipped out.

Combined with the right automation, an adequate WMS can manage all of those processes for you.

Advantages to cross docking

Reduced need to store product

Prime real estate for warehousing is becoming increasingly difficult to find and expensive. Effective cross docking practices increase warehouse and distribution efficiency, enable the fulfillment speeds that many ecommerce consumers expect, and minimize the time goods spend in a building.

Moving product out almost as soon as it arrives saves a number of costs, and frees up space for more profitable uses such as warehousing as a service.

Reduced labor cost

Since cross docking means storing less product, it also means spending less payroll on tasks associated with storing goods, including put away, picking, and packaging. In most cross docking applications, the goods that come in are sorted and shipped more or less as-is.

Efficient cross docking requires some degree of automation, which further reduces the costs associated with labor.

Quality control

As goods come into a cross docking operation, operators or automated systems can visually inspect product quality. Damaged boxes or shifted pallets can quickly be spotted, removed from the line, and sorted.

Also, because the time spent in-warehouse and the number of touchpoints are minimized, the chance that an item is damaged in your facility is also reduced.

Cost effective construction

Because cross docking maximizes the efficiency of receiving and shipping goods, it also minimizes the costs associated with warehouse construction. Less space is needed for storage, and conveyors in a cross docking application are typically shorter, cutting down on material costs. The distance that forklifts need to travel is minimized, cutting down on their wear and tear and often reducing the number needed to maintain adequate flowthrough.

High flowthrough rates

Cross docking can be especially effective in industries that need speed or have high volume, such as fresh groceries or ecommerce fulfillment. Cross docking minimizes the time these goods spend in storage. This allows fresh product to be delivered while it’s still good, and orders to be shipped so that they can be delivered in the window the end user expects.

More than this, because cross docking requires less space than traditional warehousing, they can more easily be located near the end user. This shortens the distance of the final delivery, cutting both transportation costs and delivery schedules.

Important considerations when evaluating a systems integration partner for a cross docking implementation

Are they consultative?

When partnering with a systems integrator, one of the risks material handling companies face is trying to work with a partner that promises more than they can deliver. The integration partner smiles through consultations and then, behind the scenes, desperately tries to invent the technology they need to deliver on their promises. They miss deadline after deadline until their client reaches a point of no return – they’re willing to justify their costs by seeing any kind of benefit from their investment. Even if those benefits are well below what was originally planned and agreed to.

PeakLogix is not that kind of partner. We are fully consultative, and prioritize your goals and needs. We undertake a thorough discovery process so that we understand both the roadblocks you face now and the goals you have for the future. Our solutions are designed to help you move past your roadblocks, and scale with your business growth. We don’t offer solutions in a top-down fashion that refuses input and denies questions, but collaborate with you and provide the recommendations we believe will best suit your needs.

Are they vendor agnostic?

Vendor agnostic solutions providers like PeakLogix don’t push their favorite suppliers onto their customers. Instead, we work with our suppliers to find and test the applications for which their product is the best fit. We don’t pitch untested products as viable solutions, but rather look for the best solution that already has a track record of solid performance.

Being open to integrating the best solutions on the market — regardless of their manufacturer — means we can truly optimize solutions for our clients, and quickly adjust to changing demands.

Do they develop tailored solutions for your unique challenges?

Being a consultative, vendor agnostic firm means that we look at every project with fresh eyes. Yes, we have decades of experience that inform our decisions and help us quickly find solutions to problems — but we don’t try to force the same solution on every client.

Instead, we work with our clients to discover both their pain points and goals. And our approach often leads to two positive outcomes. First, the discovery of unknown root causes to problems that allow us to address systemic issues with solutions of a customized design. And second, the application of scalable solutions that will both meet today’s challenges, and scale in ways the company needs to meet its future goals.

Can they scale to your needs?

The changing urban landscape, an aging workforce, the large-scale adoption of ecommerce, and the increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning have created challenges and brought opportunities that are continuing to change industries in every sector. Businesses need solutions that are more responsive than ever, with the ability to scale both up and down to meet a company’s growth as well as periodic changes in demand.

PeakLogix has been solving the material-handling needs of companies of every size, and in many industries, for over 30 years. We are dedicated to our own continuous improvement because we know that designing systems that will adapt to your changing business needs means being knowledgeable about changes in the industry. By offering adaptive solutions where appropriate, we bring added value to our partners.

Are they available when you need them?

PeakLogix started in 1989 as a material handling and systems integrator serving clients across the Mid-Atlantic. Over the past 30 years, we’ve completed thousands of successful projects and have grown to become a thought leader in the industry and a national provider of innovative solutions, software systems, and automated technologies.

From the beginning of our working relationships with clients, our team works to discover your goals and challenges. We collaborate with you to develop solutions that meet your needs today and also lay the groundwork for your future growth. When your project is complete, we offer services including 24/7 system support, operator training, and maintenance and repairs.

At PeakLogix, our partnerships are our priority.

What logistics, automation, and distribution solutions should you consider for your cross docking solution?

WMS Software (PickPro®)

ScottTech PickPro® is our proprietary Warehouse Management Software (WMS). It’s a fully independent, system-agnostic, web-based software solution that can control all aspects of distribution, and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of any material handling company.

ScottTech PickPro® can serve as a standalone solution, or integrate with your ERP. It can incorporate AS/RS equipment and all the peripherals, track and manage inventory of both parts and goods, and layer seamlessly with your software architecture to provide granular feedback on, and control of, your operations.

Pick to Light

Pick-to-light is a cost-effective solution that streamlines warehouse picking operations and increases picking speed, accuracy, and productivity. Especially in omnichannel fulfillment centers, pick-to-light solutions enable the reliable processing of high numbers of SKUs, while increasing efficiency.

Pick-to-light solutions are often a good entry point for a warehouse’s automation transformation. They can work as standalone systems, or integrate with Warehouse Management Software, enabling them to easily scale with a company’s growth.

Barcode Technologies

Barcode labels and scanners were first introduced in the retail sector in 1974, where they increased grocery tellers’ speeds and accuracies, and helped keep more accurate inventory counts.

For the same reasons, barcode technology is an integral part of many high-throughput distribution centers. Combined with a robust WMS and smart technologies, barcode scanning also enables real-time visibility into the movement of goods throughout a facility.

Print and Apply

Print and apply labeling reduces the number of touches, labor, and costs associated with shipping processes, improving shipping accuracy and warehouse throughput. Print and apply allows a facility to process hundreds or even thousands of packages an hour, all with accurate weight, measurements, and freight costs.

Shipping manifestos and labels can be automatically printed and applied to a variety of packaging materials, shapes, and sizes. They can be combined with accumulation conveyors and other automation to further increase shipping efficiencies.

Robotic Palletizers

Robotic palletizing and depalletizing increases the accuracy, consistency, and efficiency of your operations. Automated palletizing increases throughput, lowers shipping fees, and helps optimize the use of space in a warehouse and shipping container by palletizing items more compactly. Automated depalletizing allows your processes to maintain a steady throughput, increases worker safety, and increases efficiency.

Automation can eliminate, or at least reduce, the manual labor associated with palletizing and depalletizing, freeing that labor to move on to more value-adding and rewarding tasks. With the right end-of-arm tool, they can handle everything from the heaviest boxes and pails to the thinnest slip sheets and dunnage.


Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) enhance productivity and workflow in both manufacturing and distribution facilities. They help streamline processes, decrease delays, and move heavy, bulky materials efficiently and safely.

AGVs and AMRs use a variety of navigational methods, tailored to your facility’s needs. This includes laser guidance, optical sensors and cameras, and emergency stop bumpers and switches.They can be customized and programmed to follow the paths in a facility that are safest for staff and most efficient. They can be an integral part of a facility’s material handling and also programmed for complementary tasks such as trash collection or other housekeeping tasks.


Conveyors are a time-tested means of efficiently moving material of all shapes and sizes, from heavy pallets to fine powders.

Simple roller conveyor systems can be used to help employee ergonomics and lower the risk of injury. Energy efficient motorized drive rollers (MDRs) can be spaced throughout a long conveyor, creating accumulation zones. The speed and even direction of MDRs can be controlled with optical sensors.

More complicated systems, like sortation conveyors with pick and divert technology, are part of highly complex ecommerce fulfillment centers, and are often used in high throughput cross docking environments.

Sortation Conveyor Systems

Automated sortation is the process of first identifying and then diverting items on a conveyance system. The conveyor is connected with the facility’s Warehouse Management System (WMS) and, depending on the system, can identify items by weight, color, shape or identifying tags.

Conveyors might use a number of sortation systems to get product to the right destination, including pushers, paddles, shoes, cross belts, and more. In the right applications, automated sortation systems are both faster and more accurate than manual sortation and picking.

Advance your operations.

Schedule a consultation.

Tell us about your needs and we’ll have someone contact you to talk about the various cross docking solutions for your operations.