Inbound Logistics | January 2022

6 WAYS 3PL S CAN SAVE BUSINESSES IN 2022 Finally, 2021 is behind us. Yet many supply chain problems persist and businesses around the country are still trying to plug holes in their logistics networks with duct tape and glue. The vicious cycle of delays and shortages are likely making you wonder how you’ll get through this year unscathed. Here are six ways that third-party logistics (3PL) providers can help you keep a closer eye on your business and better leverage existing relationships. 1. Identify opportunities with carriers. Well-established 3PLs have insider information about when windows of opportunity open throughout all transportation modes. They know what carriers want, including the types of volumes and cargo they want to carry, what concessions they’re willing to make, and how to gain “preferred shipper” status. 2. Longstanding relationships unlock doors. Many businesses are blocked from working with certain carriers simply because they lack established relationships that open doors. In turn, an incomplete freight request for quote (RFQ) can prevent carriers from even providing your business with a quote. An experienced 3PL typically has longstanding relationships with many carriers that can help you get a foot in the door. They can also scrutinize RFQ responses and correct inaccuracies in your data so carriers will respond and carry your shipments. 3. Eagle eyes catch unnecessary charges. While some rate hikes and surcharges are due to increasing costs and persistent shortages, carriers sometimes tack on extra costs to make up for past oversights. It often takes an eagle-eyed professional to identify discrepancies and negotiate corrections. This is where an experienced 3PL shines. In fact, an invoice audit typically saves anywhere from 5 to 50%. 4. Get preferential treatment. The surge in demand for product is here to stay and shortages are likely to continue into the near future. By working with a well-connected 3PL, shippers can increase the odds of freight getting picked up and delivered faster—rather than sitting in limbo at a terminal or on a loading dock for hours or days. 5. Access to real-time visibility. Having real-time visibility through a transportation management system (TMS) can be a game-changer. Many 3PLs use TMS portals to track which shipments are running on time, which have arrived damaged or short, and which had signicant status changes. This can help you monitor your transportation operations while there’s still time to take action and get your shipments back on track. 6. Purchase and manage buffer inventory. The merits of keeping more safety stock comes into question with transportation and labor shortages and COVID-related factory and port closures. Working with full-service 3PLs that have distribution centers and manage your extra inventory can be a great alternative to housing buffer inventory in house. Some 3PLs are willing to purchase and fully manage your goods while they’re in transit—which lets you put off payments until you need them and reduce your supply chain risk. –Andy Dyer, President, Transportation Management, AFS Logistics

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED IN 2021 “Supply chain disruption” was

a dening theme of 2021—from port congestion, to a ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal, the year was rife with challenges. How can shippers better shore up their supply chains during these volatile times? Here are 5 tips we learned in 2021 that may help you this year. 1 Shift your thinking from lowest cost to highest value. Whether it’s getting slots on vessels, nding trucks, or securing warehouse space, capacity is in high demand across the board. Think of managing transportation like an auction—available capacity often goes to the highest bidder. Be prepared to spend when you need to, and don’t be afraid to pay more to guarantee service. Your competitive advantage in this environment is knowing your freight will move when you need it to. 2 Broaden and connect your vendor network. The pandemic exposed just how fragile the supply chain ecosystem can be. Improve your resiliency by assessing alternative routings and diversifying your vendor base for all links in your supply chain. A larger partner network means a larger selection of solutions for your company and your customers. Also connect those vendors in a single eco-system control tower, and if that’s not possible immediately, bring vendors together regularly to maintain alignment on your goals and challenges as they support you as a team, not a collection of independent contractors.

continued on page 178

January 2022 • Inbound Logistics 175

Powered by