SCARBOROUGH, Maine -- Hannaford Bros. here will test cross docking of half pallets with one dry grocery vendor early next year. The chain hopes to take advantage of cross docking's efficiency with the smaller amounts of products needed by some of its retail stores.
"For cross docking to be successful, the product has to sell through at retail, minimizing the amount of touches that retail has to go through in handling that product," said Gary Watson, director of transportation and supply side distribution at Hannaford. A half pallet has the potential to solve that problem, he noted.
The retailer has not yet established when the test will begin, and Watson declined to identify the vendor with whom it will be conducting the test.
Cross docking of half pallets is a relatively new development that is not widely used in the United States, though it has achieved acceptance in the United Kingdom, said Watson.
Hannaford views this concept as a way to fine-tune cross-docking programs to customer-specific demands.
"We've done a great job by not having to handle product in the distribution center when cross docking full pallets. But if we can't sell it through at retail and cause the retailer to have to handle the product multiple times because it's not selling, we may not be saving anything in terms of the total supply chain," Watson said.
Hannaford has been cross docking full pallets for at least three years with a wide range of vendors.