Inbound Logistics | January 2024

Looking to cut supply chain costs? Improve customer service? Source crucial commodities in a volatile world? Find affordable distribution space?

Whatever your goals, third-party logistics (3PL) service providers are ready to help you meet them— now and as you plan and prepare for future growth. 3PLs bring expertise and experience, advanced technology tools, access to capacity, and signicant economies of scale to just about any challenge that shippers face. The end result? Your supply chain is primed and ready for success.

COST REDUCTION GETS GLOSSY Consider the perpetual drive to reduce expenses. Although freight rates, particularly spot rates, have dropped a long way since the early post-pandemic days of 2022, moving a load still isn’t cheap. “Our drivers are paid a lot more now than they were in 2019,” says Jeff Bullard, senior vice president of operations at asset- based 3PL Penske Logistics in Reading, Pennsylvania. “Equipment and insurance costs are going up.” To offset those increases, Penske helps customers ne-tune their logistics networks to make them more efcient. Nexterus, a 3PL based in Baltimore, also helps shippers re-engineer their networks for greater economy and efciency. “A lot of manufacturing companies, in particular, have learned to deepen their supplier bases, embrace better processes, and utilize technology to identify how to ship smarter and where their warehouses need to be,” says Ryan Polakoff, the company’s president. Also, Nexterus secures good rates for shippers by forging deep partnerships with carriers. “It’s about getting into the carrier’s mindset, trying to understand how their network works, where they have capacity, where they do and don’t want freight,” Polakoff says. Brand owners trying to cut costs might ask 3PLs to help reduce inventory carrying charges. “They realize they have too many SKUs [stock keeping units], and they’re not focused on their top movers,” says Bryan Corbett, vice president of sales and marketing at Barrett Distribution in Franklin, Massachusetts.

oor that maximizes units per hour,” Corbett says. It’s not just about cost. 3PLs often provide digital tools that help shippers develop effective supply chain strategies, modify those strategies as needed, and execute effectively on their plans. Not every company can rely on in-house resources to implement and maintain such technology. “Many times, one of the biggest inhibitors to change is, ‘How am I going to do this technically?’”says Brent Cavanaugh, senior vice president of strategic sales at Redwood Logistics in Chicago. BRUSHING UP ON TECHNOLOGY Redwood is a 4PL, providing traditional 3PL services, plus other

Barrett has developed many well- tested practices that help its customers better match inventory to sales and gain other supply chain efciencies. One of those practices is standardization. For example, consider the packaging used in the dedicated distribution center that Barrett operates for Carhartt, the workwear brand. “Every box is the same size in the active storage zones,” Corbett says. That makes it easier to implement automation, including robotic picking. To further enhance productivity, Barrett is also implementing standard box sizes for outbound shipping. In addition, Barrett uses storage engineering to keep products moving efciently. “Once you get a standardized prole on the inbound and outbound, then you can design a layout on the

services focused on technology integration and orchestration.

Adding their own warehouse space is often too costly for manufacturers and wholesalers. Instead, they turn to 3PLs such as ELM Global to help meet demand while retaining flexibility.

84 Inbound Logistics • January 2024

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