The 3PL as a Technology Partner
Buying, implementing, and maintaining supply chain software applications can be an expensive and time-consuming initiative. Whether the projects are managed by your company’s in-house IT team or outsourced to a third party, the costs associated with this function can chip away at a company’s bottom line, put undue stress on a company’s resources, and result in unfavorable levels of system downtime.
To help alleviate these pain points, third-party logistics providers (3PLs) like Hanson Logistics have been investing in supply chain, logistics, and transportation applications that help customers work smarter, better, and faster without the need for big IT investments.
Gaining a Competitive Edge
By leveraging their 3PL’s technology investments, companies are getting systems up and running faster, avoiding lengthy implementation times, and blissfully ignoring ongoing upgrade and maintenance issues.
“To gain an edge in a competitive market, 3PL providers stay up to date with the latest developments in technology so you don’t have to,” writes Global Trade Magazine’s Steve Lowery in “Going it Alone.” “The software that 3PLs create can provide visibility to monitor the entire supply chain through advanced reporting, helping inventory management, logistics planning, and many other business processes.”
In addition, Lowery points out that sophisticated software systems analyze and track processes to eliminate inefficient areas and fast track necessary links in the chain. “By outsourcing logistics needs to a 3PL,” he writes, “a company is able to focus more on its core competencies while being ensured that its logistics needs are being handled by reliable, seasoned professionals who are not only good at what they do but constantly looking for the newest ways to improve clients’ tech options.”
Technology: The Missing Link
Already working directly with shippers to manage transportation of products in the most economically feasible and efficient manner possible, logistics providers rely heavily on technology to determine the best rates, select the best routes, and track shipments as they move around the world.
The same providers are using online platforms, websites, mobile devices, EDI, and password-protected platforms to share information with customers in real-time, thus taking on the technology investment burden and equipping multiple customers in the process.
For example, 3PLs use transportation management systems (TMS) to orchestrate product movement across the supply chain and the related transportation choices. Using reports and data, the software gives the 3PL visibility into the customer’s supply chain performance and supports future decision making.
At Hanson Logistics, we continually invest in upgrades to our supply chain systems. For example, through Infor’s Supply Chain Management System, all customers have secure access to their own inventory information, in addition to real-time order status visibility, inventory availability, and shipment status. The system has built-in parameters that are triggered in the event of back orders, order acknowledgement, shipments, or delays. This enables shippers to manage exceptions via pager, text, fax, email, or other means of communications with their contacts. In addition to dovetailing with our WMS, Hanson’s Transportation Management System (TMS) offers:
- Track & trace, allowing customers and Hanson staff to track shipments through delivery
- Customer defined reference numbers for added continuity
- Secure access that gives shippers and authorized consignees tracking ability for transparent customer service
- Easy-to-use interface for customizing event management and notification preferences
- 24/7 access to instant rate information, carrier performance, and costing matrix, and reporting by carrier, location, date, activity, etc.
By leveraging these and other capabilities directly through your 3PL, you gain insights into the TMS-generated data that helps your company supply a high degree of customer service and satisfaction to its own clients. With a bigger emphasis being placed on the customer experience, having these real-time, actionable insights in today’s competitive business environment can mean the difference between a long-term customer and an unsatisfied client.