Technology is key for 3PLs to survive and will continue to shape the industry for years to come.
Logistics has always been a very important part of any industry vertical or business. The worldwide trend of globalisation has led to many companies outsourcing their logistics functions to third-party logistics (3PLs) companies which allow them to concentrate more on their core competencies, resulting in higher revenues. However collaboration and technology are key that need to be investigated for 3PLs to survive in these competitive times.
3PL providers are companies that offer comprehensive and even one-stop solutions for enterprise supply chains in packaging, warehousing, transportation and order fulfilment. 3PLs can identify and fill the gaps in your supply chain. Their expertise, best practices and technologies can integrate into your business processes to solve the most complex challenges in logistics and make your supply chain a more agile, responsive function — a necessity in today’s uncertain market environment.
Over the past year and especially during these current exceptional times, businesses across the supply chain have felt more pressure in dealing with e-commerce fulfilment and this pressure is anticipated to continue to increase. To keep one step ahead of their competitors, supply chain companies including 3PLs are investing more and more in technologies that can enhance the flow of information between businesses across the supply chain, including warehouses, distribution centres and transportation providers.
Due to constant evolving technologies and economies of scale, businesses are increasingly looking to their 3PL for logistics technology and analytics that can help them to be more sophisticated about how they anticipate and adapt to changing supply chain dynamics. Advances in “smart” technology, data analysis, WMS solutions and mobile devices all seek to make 3PL cutting edge in terms of moving products along the supply chain more efficiently.
Those 3PLs that provide little additional value to their customers, will see themselves replaced by companies who are investing in technology that will do the job more efficiently, provide more visibility and ultimately drive down costs through gained efficiencies.
It’s all about the data. 3PLs need to leverage their capabilities and IT systems for a competitive advantage now and use them to optimise the operational effectiveness of organisations.
Key Trends that will impact 3PLs moving forward and for 3PLs to survive in this competitive market
- Collaboration is key
The overall goal of 3PL technology is to bring together stakeholders in the business. Mobile technology, cloud-based systems and partnerships form the basis for real-time data consumption that is crucial to logistics companies and their customers. Suppliers and vendors collaborate with third-party logistics to make resupply and shipping decisions using real-time analysis.
- State of the art technology
Your company has all of this data, but what do you do with it? That’s where smart technology comes into play. For example – transportation management platforms embrace the entire spectrum of complete data analysis including scanning a shipment, uploading the information to a database and then making conclusions based on a steady stream of data.
Data opens up a world of information and is key for 3PLs to survive
The right program compiles it, analyses it and creates reports for you to examine. You need the right data analysis software and WMS so you can make conclusions based on your data collection.
- Sharing Information
The key to success for 3PLs to survive is maximising the data collected/analysed by sharing it with all relevant parties. Cloud-based systems let partners, stakeholders and relevant staffers have access to the same real-time feeds. This increased transparency among partners increases collaboration and innovation while making logistics more efficient. Moving forward, expect collaboration to improve with encrypted information shared through mobile devices.
- Mobile Apps
Mobile apps do more than streamline operations. They reduce paperwork, allow tons of cloud-based storage and help run RFID scanners. Get ready to move into a truly paperless business.
- Managing your Inventory
WMS systems combine all of the best technologies, including mobile devices, apps, real-time data and RFID tags to a ccurately track what you have on hand at any time. Rather than taking yearly inventories like companies did 20 years ago, you should have up-to-the-second inventory control at all times.
- Visibility within the Supply Chain
Because real-time data makes the supply chain visible to stakeholders along every length of the chain, suppliers can make changes based on data from farther up the chain. Meanwhile, the middle company on the chain can see what raw materials or parts a supplier creates. The manufacturer then sees what’s going on when shipping things out to customers.
An increase in automation will ensure your staff are better utilised on more important aspects of your business rather than mundane tasks. Automated processes, self-driving vehicles, sensors, RFID tags and pallet jacks using GPS systems make accessing your warehouse easier. This saves labour costs, but also prevents injuries; delivers products faster and saves staff time resulting in an increase in efficiency and profitability.
- Staff Efficiency
Technology isn’t just about managing machinery, data and information. Data can manage your employees, too. Automated systems track employee efficiency, measure accuracy of orders, alert managers to any changes in KPIs and monitor efficiency of multiple carriers.
We live in a global economy, and companies need to understand that other countries have laws and standards that differ from the UK. Plus, currency exchange rates also change on a daily basis. The right tools and software keep you abreast of changes in the shipping industry worldwide. When more emerging markets come online over the next few years, you need ways to connect to overseas companies to receive and deliver products.
In today’s competitive market, companies will need to diversify to survive. Instead of just shipping one product or one class of products, logistics should focus on multiple parts of an industry. Create solutions for customers that aren’t just about shipping. Create other avenues to generate revenue, such as online ordering, easy returns and inventory management. Expand your software to benefit your partners.
Working with 3PL providers is a partnership and must be treated as such rather than as a transactional relationship. It takes a great deal of time and effort to secure quality carrier relationships and manage shipments. Building a supply chain strategy that includes outsourcing of transportation can help companies save time and money while also improving operations.
To keep ahead of the game, one area 3PLs are investing in is more flexible cloud based warehouse management systems that can more easily and cost effectively be adapted to meet the changing needs of their customers. Many 3PLs understand that being able to adapt quickly to meet customer demands gives them a tremendous competitive advantage and enables 3PLs to survive in these competitive markets.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.