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Before you decide to work with a third-party logistics 3PL provider, it helps to understand how the relationship will look and function. What exactly will a 3PL provider take off your plate, and what responsibilities will still be in your court? To start, a business shipper calls or emails an order to a 3PL broker for pickup. It is imperative that a 3PL collects all necessary information when tendering freight, no matter if it is a regularly scheduled shipment, or a special order or event.
In addition to basic location and contact information, they need to know special packing or handling instructions, compliance standards, equipment, and consignee preferences. Here is a useful template for providing or collecting these details. If set up with Electronic Data Integration EDI or an Application Programming Interface APIs , a shipper can provide all necessary information to their 3PL without email or phone, and instead have data automatically processed and sent over to their transportation partner.
A 3PL then takes all the above information, enters the order into their freight management system, and works to schedule and confirm exact order pick-up and delivery times. This is where a 3PL provider can offer tremendous value. They take the time to secure qualified transportation by selling, and then booking, a skilled carrier on the order.
This is also when important handling information is shared. Before booking, it must be confirmed that the carrier truck driver has:. This is also when drivers are given pick-up information.
Your 3PL stays in contact with the carrier during the entire process of loading. When speaking to the driver at this point, 3PL representatives should verify the skid and case count, as well as the destination shown on the bill, to make sure the carrier has been loaded with correct freight. This is an important step. Having to backtrack and try to resolve instances of wrongfully loaded product can derail tight timelines and cause unnecessary stress.
Your 3PL provider will stay in contact with the driver throughout transit of the load. Using GPS tracking technologies such as Macro Point , they can maintain the location of the shipment to delivery.
Regular check-in calls with the carrier also help to ensure everything is on track and appointment times will be met. Your 3PL will often provide the carrier with driving directions, or act as a liaison to communicate any hurdles along the way, such as traffic or weather delays.
Once a driver has arrived at their destination, he or she must document the arrival time in case there is a problem with detention — if the carrier waits beyond a certain time limit, they can be charged. The consignee will document on the bill what time the unload was completed. A 3PL partner can take many tasks off your plate, the most obvious being the booking of a truck for pick-up and delivery.
But the value of a 3PL goes far beyond freeing up your time. Here are additional benefits and reasons why companies use third-party logistics providers:. A specialized 3PL can help provide information about your consignees and their preferences.
For example, you may be delivering into a new location, and experience knowledge gaps. An experienced service provider will be able to share imperative compliance and scheduling details with you, improving your relationship and performance with buyers. A service-focused 3PL tracks and logs updates each step of the way. They are in regular communication with drivers and have GPS technologies in place to maintain status of an order. They can also send you real-time updates and alerts via email or phone about order status, delivering peace of mind.
Things happen on the road that can delay an order, no matter how much prep and communication goes on with a driver. A 3PL partner can handle these concerns, either rebooking another truck, aiding a driver with their unplanned event, or communicating updates to receivers. Issues of the road could include:. This also includes claim management. A 3PL partner can help you file and push necessary information through the legal system quickly, removing responsibilities from the plate of the shipper, saving time and money.
Vetting the equipment, insurance, and qualifications of carriers is a large undertaking. Before you hand your product over to a driver, you need to ensure they are the right person or company to represent your organization. A 3PL works tirelessly to build their carrier network to include only qualified and reliable service providers.
A 3PL can take on the responsibility and costs associated with investing in technologies that improve your operations. Valuable technologies often offered by 3PLs:. You can more easily manage high and low seasons with the assistance of a 3PL and they can help you quickly respond to increases in demand or expansion. Your 3PL partner should provide more value than just transport of product. Provide as Much Detail as Possible: The more details a 3PL or carrier has about an order, the better service they can provide.
The more time a 3PL has to book an order, the better pricing and service they can secure. This extra time enables carriers to plan ahead. If they know when and where their truck will be, they can begin looking for backhauls well in advance. This lowers the need for them to charge a higher rate since they can leave a location with another profitable truckload. Advanced notice also helps your 3PL lock in appointment times and book the best possible carrier partner.
Helping carriers avoid the hassle of scrambling to find day-of opportunities, shows respect and builds better partnerships.
They will provide you with security and visibility throughout the life of your load, invest in technology on your behalf, act as expert supply chain consultants, and help you deliver on customer demands. This step by step life of a load provides a comprehensive look at what a freight brokerage does. If interested in learning more about specific benefits provided by Zipline Logistics, check out our customer case studies and testimonials.