Supply chain management is a complex task that it implies a series of interconnected processes that range from the production and storage of goods to their delivery to the final consumer.
In this context, companies can choose to outsource some or all activities of logistics, storage and distribution to suppliers or specialized services in these areas, known as 3PL (Third-Party Logistics).
Meaning and concept of 3PL
The term 3PL (Third-Party Logistics) refers to a external logistics service provider that is in charge of the management of one or several areas of the supply chain of a company. These providers are hired by companies to carry out specific logistics tasks, such as transportation, storage, inventory management, packaging, and distribution.
The concept of 3PL emerged in the 1970s., when companies began to outsource the management of their storage and transport operations to specialized providers. Since then, 3PL services have evolved and expanded to include a wide range of logistics and supply chain services, thus better tapping into their potential market.
By hiring a 3PL provider, the companies can benefit from a series of advantagessuch as cost reduction, efficiency improvement and flexibility in supply chain management. In addition, the use of 3PL services allows companies to focus on their core activities, such as production and marketing, while leaving logistics management in the hands of specialized providers.
3PL providers undertake a wide range of activities, from inventory management and merchandise transportation on pallets to storage and distribution. They also provide value-added services, such as labelling, packaging or handling of special products.
What is the 3PL system?
The 3PL system (Third-Party Logistics System) is a comprehensive logistics solution provided by a 3PL service provider to manage one or more areas of a company’s supply chain. This system is based on a strategic partnership between the company and the 3PL service provider, in which the service provider becomes an extension of the company in terms of logistics and supply chain.
The 3PL system includes a wide range of services, such as transportation, storage, inventory management, packaging, and distribution, and can adapt to the specific needs of each company. In addition, the 3PL system can include value-added services such as labeling, customization, assembly, and special product handling.
The 3PL system allows companies to quickly adapt to changing changes in market demand and in the supply chain, which allows them to improve their responsiveness and competitiveness.
What is a 3PL warehouse?
It is a managed storage facility by an external logistics service provider, which is in charge of managing inventories and distributing its clients’ products. The 3PL warehouse can be a shared facility, where multiple companies store their products in the same space, or a dedicated facility where a company has its own exclusive space within the warehouse.
The 3PL service provider handles all warehousing-related operations such as receiving, order picking, packaging, and shipping of the products. The 3PL service provider can provide additional servicessuch as inventory management and distribution, to ensure greater efficiency and cost optimization.
What is a 3PL company?
A 3PL (Third-Party Logistics) company is a company dedicated to providing logistics and supply chain services to other companiesso that they can outsource their logistics operations to a provider specialized in this field.
3PL companies offer transportation, storage, inventory management, packaging, labeling, and distribution services, among others, to companies seeking improve the efficiency of your logistics operations and reduce the costs associated with managing your own supply chain. 3PL companies can offer customized solutions to suit the specific needs of each client.
By outsourcing their logistics operations to a 3PL company, companies can focus on their core business and delegate the management of their supply chain to a specialized provider. Besides, 3PL companies can contribute their experience and expertise to optimize the supply chain of its customers and improve the quality of service offered to end customers.
In short, 3PL companies provide a cost effective and efficient solution so that companies can outsource their logistics management and focus on their main activity.
What are 3PL distributors?
offer distribution services and inventory management to other companies. 3PL distributors are in charge of distributing the products from the production center or warehouse to the end customer, managing the entire supply chain to ensure that the products reach their final destination efficiently and within the agreed time frame.
3PL distributors can offer a wide range of services, from transportation and inventory management, to the order preparation and the delivery to end customers. In addition, they can adapt to the specific needs of each client, offering personalized solutions to guarantee maximum efficiency and profitability.
3PL distributors can be an attractive option for companies looking to outsource their logistics management and focus on their core business. By outsourcing distribution management, companies can reduce operating costs, improve the efficiency of their supply chain, and offer a better service to your end customers.
What are the characteristics of 3PL in logistics?
The main characteristics of 3PL (Third-Party Logistics) in logistics are:
- It is an external provider of logistics servicess: 3PL companies are third-party providers that offer logistics and supply chain services to other companies looking to outsource their logistics operations.
- They offer a wide range of services: 3PL providers offer a wide range of logistics services, such as transportation, storage, inventory management, order preparation, packaging and distributionamong others.
- Personalization of services: The services offered by a 3PL provider are adapted to the specific needs of each client, offering customized solutions to ensure the efficiency and profitability of the supply chain.
- Use of advanced technology: 3PL providers use advanced technology, such as inventory management systems, shipment tracking and management software of warehouses, to improve the efficiency and precision of their operations.
- Costs reduction: Companies that use the services of a 3PL provider can reduce the costs associated with managing their own supply chain, since outsource these operations to a specialized provider who can perform them more efficiently.
- Improved flexibility and responsiveness: 3PL providers can provide greater flexibility and responsiveness to changes in market demand and in the supply chain, allowing companies to more easily adapt to changes and improve your competitiveness.
What is the relationship between 3PL, 4PL and 5PL?
3PL, 4PL and 5PL are terms related to logistics management and the supply chain, but differ in the extent of responsibility assumed by each type of service provider.
- The term ‘2PL‘ refers to ‘Second Party Logistics‘, which refers to the management of the supply chain by the company itself and not by an external provider.
- 3PL (Third Party Logistics) refers to third-party providers that offer logistics and supply chain services, such as transportation, warehousing, and distribution, among others.
- 4PL (Fourth-Party Logistics) refers to service providers that go beyond traditional supply chain management and focus on the strategic management and coordination supply chain of a company. A 4PL is responsible for integrating the services of multiple logistics service providers (3PL) to optimize the supply chain of a company.
- 5PL (Fifth-Party Logistics) refers to service providers who offer a comprehensive and complete solution supply chain management. A 5PL is responsible for the strategic and operational management of the entire supply chain of a company, including the integration of the services of multiple logistics service providers (3PL and 4PL).
Examples of the use of 3PL
Below are some examples of using 3PL in different industries:
- electronic commerce: E-commerce companies often use 3PL services to manage their logistics and supply chain operations. A 3PL provider can take care of the storage, inventory management, packaging and shipping of the products, which allows the company focus on your core business.
- Food industry: Companies in the food industry use 3PL providers to manage their logistics operations more efficiently. For example, they can use refrigerated transport services to guarantee the delivery of fresh products to its customers.
- Manufacturing: Manufacturing companies can use 3PL providers to manage the logistics of your raw materials and finished products. A 3PL provider can take care of the storage, transportation and distribution of the products, which allows the company to focus on production and improvement of its processes.
- Pharmaceutical sector: Pharmaceutical companies use 3PL providers to manage the logistics and distribution of drugs and pharmaceuticals. 3PL providers can ensure compliance of the proper storage and transportation requirements for these products.
- Automotive industry: Automotive companies use 3PL providers to manage the logistics and transportation of parts and components for their vehicles. A 3PL provider can guarantee the delivery of the necessary parts at the right time for the production of the vehicles.