The world of third party logistics is changing, and we all have to adapt to make the most of it.

third party logistics

There was a time when the typical interaction between a shipper and an outsourced logistics provider was essentially: “Go and do this.” The modern 3PL supplier is more sophisticated and capable. Now, the interaction is usually “This is what we want to achieve. How can you help us do it better, faster, and less expensively?” This is better, but there is farther to go, yet. In the near future, it is hoped that the conversation will be more along the lines of: “Here is the situation. Let’s decide together how to proceed now.”

Make your logistics provider a key part of your team

Back when logistics was all in-house, logistics managers attended, and contributed to planning meetings. As more of it is outsourced, the key managers of your logistics are may no longer be in the loop. Consider having your 3PL provider represented at the planning sessions for your short and long term strategy. The more these key providers are brought into the planning and decision process, the more your 3PL can be integrated into your business. Integration has efficiency gains, but more important is the feeling of having the same goals, and truly playing on the same team.

Brainstorm with your 3PL

Look for supply chain inefficiencies than can be combined or skipped to reduce chain complexity and improve your cycle time, while reducing costs.

Making a detailed map of your supply chain will help. Ask your 3PL if they can accommodate more of your in-house tasks, or those that are being handled by an additional provider. Reducing the number of providers generally lowers costs and improves reliability. Most 3PLs can handle carrier management, for example, as well as product assembly, inspection, and packaging. Not only will your new chain be leaner, you will get to market faster with little or no loss of quality.



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