The term “logistics” such as truck dispatcher certification has long and firmly entered into use, and everyone more or less understands that it means some kind of action associated with the movement of material flows – purchase, transportation, storage of goods – at a minimum cost.
But what does the term 3PL – operator mean, we will try to figure it out in this article.
The abbreviation 3PL itself comes from the English Third Party Logistics – “third party logistics”. That is, in fact, this term means the delegation of the logistics process to a third party – a company that provides this service almost on a turnkey basis.
This is such a company that provides a fairly extensive list of logistics services, and is thus a 3PL operator.
With the term more o
r less sorted out, you can go directly to the functionality. Some of the functions performed by a 3PL operator, we have already mentioned, are delivery, storage, order picking. But in fact, their list is much wider and includes: consolidation of shipments, processing of payments, information support, cargo escorting, goods return, goods insurance, customs representation, forwarding, as well as consulting services.
Of course, the company’s des
ire to become a 3PL operator alone is not enough, a serious material base is needed.
Firstly, it is a warehouse that must meet certain requirements:
a detached building, with a flat floor, adjustable temperature control, automatic gates, ramps, loading and unloading areas of certain sizes and much more.
Secondly, it is an extensive vehicle fleet of various tonnage for the transportation of goods.
Thirdly, warehouse equipment (for example, forklift, warehouse scales).
Fourth, of course, a well-staffed staff of qualified employees required to solve a wide range of tasks in the field of warehousing and delivery
Functional 3 PL operator
Possessing all the listed functionality, a 3PL operator can solve the following tasks:
– Receive and unload your cargo:
The 3PL operator receives your container with cargo, delivers it to its warehouse, where it unloads and unpacks, checking the quality and quantity of the goods. In case of damage or incompleteness of the cargo, the 3PL operator can issue the necessary documentation or return the cargo to the supplier.
– Pack cargo for retail:
A 3PL operator can not only ship goods from one company to another, but also prepare it directly for retail sale.
– Manage your customers’ orders:
fast and efficient processing of your customers’ orders with tracking at all stages.
– Perform the so-called cross-docking (transportation of products without placing in a warehouse):
The 3PL operator delivers the goods directly to the customer. This reduces the time spent on the way of goods and saves the customer’s costs. This process includes:
division of goods into many small lots, followed by reloading from one car into several vans for delivery to end users;
repacking the container;
re-kitting of products received from different sources, but intended for one client.
– Manage inventory.
With the help of special programs, the 3PL-operator monitors the amount of goods in the warehouse and informs when it is necessary to replenish them.
– Report on the location of the cargo.
The software allows you to track goods at any point in the logistics process.
So, it seems that we also figured out the activities of the 3PL operator. It remains to answer the question: who benefits from it?
Almost everyone. Any company will find its advantages in using the services of a 3PL operator.
For small companies with an infrastructure that is just starting to develop, this is a significant cost saving: there is no need to pay for the rent of warehouses, to maintain their own transport and personnel necessary for the logistics process.
For large companies, this means saving efforts, which, instead of solving logistic problems, can be directed to further business development.
And of course, the services of a 3PL operator are indispensable during a period of seasonal increase in commodity flows, for example, in December, in the pre-New Year period – you do not need to invest resources in expanding your own base (additional warehouses, transport and employees), which will be idle when returning to normal volumes transportation. It is enough to increase investments in outsourcing, while the costs will be significantly lower.
Thus, competently using the services of a 3PL operator, any company can improve its financial performance and reduce the delivery time of goods to the end consumer, which will have a beneficial effect both on the economic aspect and on the company’s image.