What Logistics service providers face in Egypt
Logistics service providers ”A third-party logistics(3PL) provider” is a firm that provide outsourced or “third party’’ logistics services to companies for part, or sometimes all of their supply chain management function. 3PL typically specialized in integrated operation, warehousing and transportation services that can be scaled and customized to customer needs.
Many companies are deviating from having their own warehouses and transportation services to that of contracting with various services providers such as UPS (United Parcel Service). The use of third party logistics, or 3PL, means a substantial cost savings to companies who would ordinarily have to lease or otherwise contract these services.
For many companies, contracting with services providers is easier and cheaper than doing the work themselves. After all, they don’t have to worry about storage, transportation, or distribution of the material. With a phone call to the 3PL company, they arrange for the material to be shipped to their customer or they pre-arrange a schedule for a specified amount of product to be released to the customer on certain days of the week or month. They don’t even have to call a trucking company, since most of 3PL have their own fleet of trucks for transportation of goods. The $100 billion 3PL market has experienced dramatic growth of approximately 15% per year over the last decade and shows no signs of slowing down. statistics shows that 42% of shippers are currently planning to switch to 3PL; 17% because of cost, 25% because of services (saving time and money) Many experts within the industry have observed that only 10% of logistics services are currently outsourced in the U.S. and believe that the U.S. will transition to a model more similar to that of European countries, where approximately 40% of logistics services are outsourced to 3PL service providers. 3PL service providers will propel growth into the future.
More companies are choosing to contract services with 3PL Company, so they don’t have to concern themselves with the warehouse, distribution, and transportation activities. Delegating these functions to someone else gives the company more opportunity to concentrate on their core activities. It’s a function that companies tend to find time consuming and often boring from a paperwork standpoint, so if they can leave all that up to a third party, that improves their efficiency. Depending on the terms of the contract, sometimes the 3PL company also handles billing and collecting payments from company’s customers for the products it ships. This frees time that your accounting department can use to take care of other financial matters. Freeing the company of continually hiring warehouse workers, replacing fleets of trucks, and paying bills for shipments to customers will allow them to operate more economically, as they will be able to operate with less staff.
As there are varieties of demands and requirements from the customers, the third party logistics (3PL) services providers are facing different new challenges in their operating environment. Therefore, the supply chain visibility, supply chain collaboration and supply chain optimization are important issues for the services providers. Logistics service providers
Besides, there are also lots of uncertainties and unexpected issues from customers, for example, last minute changes and last minute notifications. These situations always lead re-planning and re-arrangement, and it is very difficult for service providers to handle if the information system cannot support them in the decision making moment. Logistics service providers
On selecting a 3PL a full investigation must be accomplished, evaluation should be made to their performance so that customers are not upset when products arrive late or damaged, because they were not properly stored or carefully loaded and secured when loaded on the trucks. Company certainly want to choose the least expensive 3PL company, but not at the expense of customers. The company must make sure for what they are paying and contract with a company that will provide excellent quality, impeccable service, and delivery when it is required. This means they must guarantee on-time pickup and delivery as well as excellence in storage and loading abilities.
Many companies choose to outsource this function to a third party logistics company (3PL). A 3PL normally performs all the functions of our warehouse shipper but has some unique requirements. Imagine a warehouse on steroids. 3PL’s often ship thousands of packages a day for many different clients. Some have their warehouses divided for a dedicated section for each client with a separate shipping system in each area, like a mini-storage facility. Others have conveyor belts throughout the warehouse brining the packages to a central shipping area. Almost all of them have multiple shipping stations.
Here are few of the problems they face: Logistics service providers
- Since 3PL’s are shipping packages to their customer’s customers, they often charge the freight to their customers account numbers. A 3PL could have hundreds of different account numbers and they need to make sure that packages are shipped correctly. Some do this by having business rules that receive data from the 3PL information technology system to insure that the correct account number is charged.
- Because 3PL’s ship for a wide variety of clients, they receive their shipping files in a wide variety of formats. They may get an excel spreadsheet or a file with addresses to ship to or they may get an entire order file with line items to pick. They need a shipping system that can import orders in many formats. They could be flat files, xml, ODBC, or other formats. Flexibility is critical.
- I once spoke to the owner of a 3PL that had over 40 free carrier provided systems. I asked him why he was willing to invest in technology when he had free systems. He told me that it was nearly impossible to keep track of all the data for shipping. Imagine running a $100 million corporation and having to ask your vendors for the data to create a monthly financial statement. He had to ask his carriers how much he was spending and try to compile all the data. He wanted consolidated reporting that would provide him with the information he needed to run his business.
- Everything that a 3PL does is tracked so that they can bill their customers, so every shipment needs a job number. And there is no room for errors, so job numbers have to be validated.
- Speed is critical; the fewer keystrokes the better. 3PLs want automation so they can process parcels as quickly as possible
Current Situation Logistics service providers
Because of the market increase of the international trading activities, the logistics services industry has been developing in a very rapid rate. Apart from the fast growth of international trading activities, the integrated facilities of ports and the professionalism of the logistics providers are also the main reasons of the growth. As the supply chain environment change, logistics providers are not only for delivering goods and materials but also providing lots of value-add services to their customers as well as “door-to-door” services.
As there are varieties of demands and requirements from the customers, the third party logistics (3PL) services providers are facing different new challenges in their operating environment. Therefore, the supply chain visibility, supply chain collaboration and supply chain optimization are important issues for the services providers.
Measuring operating costs helps to identify whether and where to make operational changes to control expenses and to discover areas for improved asset management. To attract and retain valuable customers, the price/value of products offered can be enhanced through cost reductions and service improvements in logistics activities. The returns on stockholder investments and the market value of the firm are impacted by the performance of firm logistics. These seem to be obvious reasons why companies should want to be competent in performance measurement.
In today’s competitive market place what distinguishes winners from losers is the ability to differentiate themselves through their service and product offerings. For many firms, the service differentiation is accomplished by how well the logistics process is managed. To achieve excellence in logistics, successful firms ensure that the key logistics processes are aligned with the firm’s business strategy and measured against predetermined performance objectives. Additionally, the top firms are jointly defining the specifics of each measure with their trading partners (customers / suppliers / 3PLs) to create a common understating of expectations. While some firms are developing their measurement capability internally, a number are turning to 3PLs to support their needs. As focused service providers, 3PLs are ideally positioned to bring the systems, process design, and managerial expertise to aid in establishing and implementing a comprehensive logistics measurement effort. The 3PL is also often in the position to act as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue between trading partners to establish a level of service performance that truly adds value.
Solution Logistics service providers
Our advanced supply chain solution for the 3PL services industry embedded with the Sense-and-Respond® technology which can help the management and staff of services providers to “Sense” the exceptional issues and “Respond” in a close-loop mechanism. It can help the companies to increase the visibility and collaboration along the supply chain. It can also minimize the error, optimize the resources and shorten the lead time in the entire operations. Logistics service providers
The following recommendations can be derived: Logistics service providers
- The current work need to be extended to more companies and the sample should be stratified into Egyptian and foreign companies and each stratum is divided according to the line of business of the company.
- Training of personal working in the field of logistics to improve the skills and competencies of the human recourses.
- Increase the awareness of the 3PL services buyers should be done by service providers through seminars and workshops.
- More tailored 3PL services for small and medium business should be introduced to the market.
- The 3PL must provide more added value services especially air freight packaging.
- Increase information sharing between 3PL service provider and buyer to facilitate the work, to meet performance indicators and to keep the records for future correcting actions.
Mr.Ahmed Salem Saber
PhD candidate at university of Huddersfield UK
Lecturer at Arab academy
For science & technology & Maritime transport