All roads lead through the cross-dock warehouse

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Nowadays supply chains ensure that all kinds of materials, parts or finished products can be obtained via home delivery within 24-48 hours countrywide or within Europe for a favourable price. It is also good for manufacturers and for the sellers because they do not have to finance the warehousing of their goods. However, all of this can only be achieved through the operations of fine-tuned logistics systems.

If you wish to send goods to your partner, all you have to do is log in to the customer portal of your logistics provider - in our case it is www.myRaben.com which is also available in Hungarian – provide the size and weight parameters as well as the address information, print out and attach the label to either a pallet or the packaging of the product. Afterwards just wait for the arrival of our driver in the previously discussed time slot. From the moment of handing over the goods, the route of the cargo, in other words its status (where it is currently), can be tracked on the myRaben portal. The whole process is simple, smooth and consistent: ordering the transport online, handing over the goods to us, and finally delivery to the specified address. Or the other way around, after receiving the goods we pick them up, transport them and hand over the package to you. Of course, it takes a domestic and international distribution system consisting of hundreds of depots, precise process planning as well as stable and well-coordinated operations for this system to function quickly and efficiently 365 days a year. All of these can be provided by Raben. Our company is present in 12 countries throughout Europe with more than 130 depots and 90 years of experience. Our combined storage capacity is approximately 1.2 million square meters, and transport is provided via our modern fleet of 8,000 vehicles. We deliver full truck loads (FTL) as well as single pallet or single package cargo. The latter we deliver using groupage transport. In the cargo holds of our vehicles, packages from several customers are transported which means that the space and the cost are also divided. In the case of smaller quantities of goods, this transportation method is the most cost-efficient one. We operate groupage transports domestically and internationally quite frequently and according to a timetable. Trucks assigned to this type of transport can carry a large variety of goods with a few exceptions and within certain size limits. For example, precisely loaded pallets containing foodstuffs which do not require cooling can be transported alongside high-value steel rods used in manufacturing of automotive parts, building materials sent directly from a DIY store to the construction site, or even a driveable single-person paintball tank – which we recently transported and stored in our warehouses as well. Groupage transport can and does carry almost anything, even ADR goods up to a specific level of risk.

An inseparable bond

Of course, this collective-distributive system is nothing new. For centuries postal services have been operating on the same basis. They collect mail from the smallest villages and then forward them to a distribution centre where – today with the help of mechanical sorting – their destination in the country, Europe or the world is specified and finally the mail truck sets off with the consignment. The system may be old, but there are always new challenges. Nowadays, for example, logistics providers have to be quick, precise and cost-efficient. A cross-dock warehouse helps us achieve these goals. Without these depots, groupage networks could not function. Groupage transport and cross-docks are inseparable hence they are the basis for well-operating logistics solutions. The name ‘cross-dock’ means that in a logistics centre packages from different origins are sorted according to which geographical location they are headed to. We have several dozens of these types of logistics hubs across Europe. Our cross-dock warehouse in Hungary is in Dunaharaszti and it serves three purposes: domestic distribution of packages, international distribution of shipments within Raben network, and finally the groupage distribution depot for Budapest and its agglomeration.

Now, let us take a look at how the classic cross-dock groupage distribution process works. Point at Debrecen on the map. Imagine that your enterprise which manufactures and successfully sells injection moulding tools, custom carpentry products or durable sweets across the European and domestic markets is located there. When the finished product – half of which is bound for Zalaegerszeg and the other is for Düsseldorf, Germany - is ready for transport, then you can order the transport on myRaben.com only by pressing a few buttons, print and place the label on your package and shortly our driver arrives at your factory. If you have indicated that there is a need for loading, then we arrive with the appropriate vehicle and a loader. The goods are loaded and transported to our depot in Debrecen. There, during the late afternoon and early evening hours we organize the packages heading to different geographical locations in Hungary and abroad. Afterwards they are loaded onto linehauls which are headed to Dunaharaszti according to a timetable. The trip takes only a few hours. In our cross-dock warehouse the work begins immediately. We unload the cargo from the inbound trucks and scan the labels on the packages with hand-held scanners. Then we immediately know to which domestic region, or country the package is headed. We place the goods into one of the 50 zones of our warehouse where the packages with the same destination region or country are waiting. All the goods are stored on the ground level, because if we kept the inbound and outbound cargo on shelves, we would lose time. When it comes to cross-dock processes, time is the primary concern. This means that the packages are relocated from the inbound to the outbound sector ideally within 2-3 hours. If we stick to our example, the goal is the quickest delivery of your cargo from Debrecen to Zalaegerszeg and Düsseldorf. We place half of your goods to one of our West-Hungary and the other to the Northern-Germany zones inside our warehouse. Within a few hours we load both halves of your cargo to our linehauls.  One of them heads to Veszprém and the other one to Germany in the late night or early morning hours with your cargo in their hold. The one bound for Zalaegerszeg arrives to our depot in Veszprém within a few hours where its cargo – your package included – is transferred to a smaller vehicle which heads for a pre-defined list of addresses including the destination of your goods bound for Zalaegerszeg. If it is defined as an A-B day transport, meaning that delivery is required on the next day so the cargo from Debrecen picked up on Monday arrives to Zalaegerszeg on Tuesday morning. The process is the same in the case of your Düsseldorf-bound cargo with the exception that from the Dunaharaszti cross-dock the goods are transported first to Eisenach and then to the Düsseldorf address within 48 hours. With our groupage transport and cross-dock warehouses we do not only serve one-time orders but also use them as part of our domestic and international distribution network. Several manufacturers and sellers entrust us with providing complex logistics solutions for them. This – according to needs – varies from logistics process organization and commodity supplying to warehousing and distribution as well. Cargo from customers of this category is stored in the neighbouring logistics warehouse. During the distribution however, we do not ship complete loads to the addresses because – for example in the case of production or retail – customers tend to minimalize their stock. This leads to the decrease of the amount of cargo shipped to a single address. Furthermore, with the ever increasing growth of B2C (business-to-customer) trade, the ratio of deliveries also grow which means that quantities in this segment are even smaller. These items are not delivered by the standard delivery tours but instead, our logistics warehouse – functioning like a depot – hands over the goods to our cross-dock which places them in the optimal zones from where they are loaded onto groupage transport and taken to a rural/foreign depot. From there the cargo is taken to the destination.

Life begins at night

These processes are ever-present in our Dunaharaszti cross-dock both in terms of space and time. On all working days in a year the work starts in the late afternoon and lasts until early in the morning. Trucks arrive and depart constantly. After unloading their cargo, they immediately head off towards their next mission. This could not be achieved without careful planning, committed employees, modern vehicles and loaders. We also develop the IT background of our cross-dock and introduce systems which help make these processes measurable and less time-consuming. A good example would be our GATE program which establishes electronic data interchange and communication between drivers and the warehouse team. The administrators are notified about the arrival of the vehicles and the drivers receive information via their smartphones regarding which docking gate or ramp should they park at. We can see and measure the punctuality as well as how much time each process takes hence we can motivate our team to be as efficient as they can. Thanks to this we can satisfy the needs of our customers in such a way that our packages always reach their destination in time, unharmed and at a decent price domestically or abroad in twelve countries of Europe including the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Romania or the Baltic countries.

12.10.2018
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