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An Intro To 3pl Management Essay

According to Coyle et al, as the emergence and progress of the third get together logistics industry was a significant trend of the 1990s, thoughts fluctuate as to how best to define this type of logistics company and what services might be included.

Basically, 3PL companies are typically external suppliers that provide all or part of organization's logistics function. Some of the multiple services that are also included in character, provided by the 3PL companies are transportation-based, warehouse/distribution-based, forwarder-based, financial-based and information-based.

Directly related to 3PL is the growing need for fourth-party logistics (4PL), which is the relationship that provides a wide range of integrative supply chain services to organizations. (Coyle et al. , 2003).

Thus, it is the potential development of the next phase of outsourcing and really should be taken significantly by logisticians/source string practicians.

2. 1 Categorization of 3PL services provided

Rushton et al. , (2010) remember that 3PL firms provide either dedicated/exclusive operation or multi-user/shared operation with their clients.

Dedicated service provision refers to a situation where the 3PL firm offers a complete logistics or distribution function. In cases like this, the 3PL organization provides the customer with all dedicated outsourced services and meet decision requirements/distribution requirements only, on international, countrywide or regional levels. This type of service is more common in the UK but it is also used in Europe and North America.

Multi-user function on the other side, pertains to the functions of the 3PL firm which cater for several client companies, typically within the service provider's operation, instead of only a single client. For instance, the clients may all be manufacturers or traders of similar goods and their products may all be sent to the same or similar customers - pharmaceuticals products to merchants, food to hotels or restaurant, etc.

From the research study, the prevailing 3PL provider runs as a passionate service agency at ATC.

It is important for ATC to identify that selecting a 3PL company is part of the procurement of service and then the right techniques should be followed to ensure that ATC gets value for its money.

This newspaper therefore examines among other activities the steps/operations, service level arrangement, benefits, factors and areas that ATC should think about to realize the full advantages of outsourcing its syndication function to a 3PL company.

2. 2 Motorists/Benefits of Outsourcing

The major individuals have been grouped into four (4) particularly organizational, financial, service and physical factors, (Rushton et al. , 2010).

With regard to organizational factors, one of the main element known reasons for ATC to outsource its circulation function is the chance for ATC to concentrate on their primary business or main competence. To put it simply, outsourcing allows everyone to concentrate on what they do best. Money which ATC would often have used to procure vehicles and other equipment for distribution purposes could be invested in other operational areas to bring progress and success to the business.

Moreover, the utilization of any 3PL firm can permit ATC to get access to wider knowledge. This could be done through the opportunity to use leading edge technology like RFID (Radio Regularity Identification Device), monitor and trace, GIS (Geographic Information Systems), or by access a wider management know-how and understanding from that of ATC, to become in tune with the technological pace.

For financial factors, it might be realized that the engagement of 3PL businesses allows for an improved appreciation of genuine operational costs. It is likely that ATC would make repayments to its 3PL firm frequently, typically every month, and this will make the definite circulation costs very apparent. It will therefore be ideal for financial planning.

As regards service, service level enlargement is usually achievable through outsourcing to 3PL specialist because if for occasion ATC makes a decision to attempt an in-house circulation operation, it could struggle with the initial capital outlay, and ATC may have a problem in discovering and putting into practice any possible service enhancement. It would therefore be proper for ATC to outsource to a 3PL company.

In regards to physical factors, as ATC grows up, especially in the construction of both global sources and global markets, management needs to notice that logistics and supply chain structures have grown to be multifaceted. Long distance travel, intermodal transport, customs operations, different depot types, cultural differences, among other activities may be involved in the 3PL operation.

More so, special vehicle features such as vehicle size, body quality, equipment and product load specifications may all be afflicted depending on weight/level ratios and any 'special' product to be transported. Thus, the use of a specialist 3PL company by ATC would become more advisable.

Other benefits include guaranteeing cost reduction, attainment of competitive benefit over competitors and economies of size with the creation of department of labour and participation of specialists to perform the appropriate or suitable duties. Also increasing quality, technology and responsiveness and also enabling constant improvement in the value stream are other benefits that might be derived from engaging the services of a 3PL company to execute ATC's syndication function.

The use with their well-developed information system, coupled with adequate knowledge of the jurisdiction including its landscape as well as their capability to obtain more favourable transport rates due to the fact that they clear goods in mass which could appeal to discount rates are also some of the benefits that could be derived from participating local 3PL organization by ATC.

Similarly, outsourcing the circulation function of ATC to 3PL firm that gets the experience and the resources not only to do it better, but also cheaper makes business sense. Surely, it will be easier to outsource to the circulation function to a 3PL specialist if the company is not in the business to manage inventory, pick out and pack, fulfill and process purchases and manage results.

2. 3 Reasons why some organizations are hesitant to outsource some functions to 3PL contractors

Some companies are unwilling to outsource certain aspects of their procedures to 3PL providers for many reasons. Some of them have been mentioned below:

Basic delivery systems may be incompatible: This is applicable to the use of preselected orders that require special equipment to unload the goods. In some cases, the 3PL organization contracted may well not have the capacity to execute certain tasks and therefore other means may have to be found to provide the items which is both expensive and unproductive.

Changeover costs: sometimes the cost of moving from in-house procedure to 3PL syndication provider does not make financial sense. The sunk costs associated with losing existing infrastructure and equipment such as vehicles therefore of the 3PL set up can be a disincentive for some companies to outsource their distribution function to 3PL company.

Third party syndication providers may lack the essential experience of consumer business' products and markets, even though the progress in specialist syndication organization has helped to improve this understanding.

Cultural incompatibility between company and customer may be a challenge. It really is now a recognized fact that cultures vary pretty radically in one company to some other. Technically, there should be no clash of culture in a company/client relationship since this might lead to conflicts once the functions kick-start.

It is also alleged that the use of 3PL circulation can result in a lack of control over the delivery operation. This may be crucial if logistics function is considered to be always a major component of competitive advantage. Also, they are scared that it could be difficult for the user company to revert to their logistics operation should it opt to do this.

Some companies believe that brand integrity may be affected. The use of a 3PL company implies that the company may be refused the possibility to use its branded vehicle for circulation and so the value of advertising on vehicles is refused them.

The confidentiality of information when using a 3PL distribution service may be one of the reasons some companies are hesitant in entering into such arrangement. A couple of doubts that very important classified information might be divulged because of this of the using 3PL professional and this may have consequences for the business's competitive edge.

Before outsourcing any function, especially, the logistics function to a 3PL company, ATC should carry out a SWOT, PESTLE and other critical analyses determine if it is still essential to continue with the prevailing outsourcing decision. This decision also needs to be prepared by the huge benefits and troubles of outsourcing discussed in items 2. 2 and 2. 3 above, respectively.

2. 4 Service Level Contract (SLA)

One of the areas of agreement that can determine its success or elsewhere is Service Level Contract (SLA). SLAs should sum up the contract obligations and are generally part of the initial contract arrangement. They normally include all areas of outsourcing provision and usually specify the services that should be provided. They must particularly spell out in detail the level of service to be performed. Both the contractor and end user should take centre stage in pulling up the SLA.

Rushton et al. , (2010), observes that typically, SLA includes:

A description of the service to be provided;

Service criteria that should be met;

Client and provider responsibilities;

Provisions for conformity (legal, regulatory, etc. );

Monitoring mechanisms and reporting requirements;

Dispute image resolution;

Compensation for service level inability;

Performance review method and timetable;

Revised process of activity or technical change.

Certainly, the SLA is an essential document in contract administration. Apart from describing and deciding the expected specifications of the service to be provided, the roles of both celebrations should be evidently spelt out. Similarly, the SLA should contain areas of conformity such as legal or regulatory issues. The SLA should also entail dispute image resolution provisions to guide the 2 2 parties when disagreements arise during the period of the contract is at being. The SLA also needs to cater for compensation in case you can find service level disappointment. It is also vital to include procedures to appeal to performance review processes and their timelines as well as contract review processes for operational or technical amendment.

Directly related to SLA is the targets of 3PL providers of the customers.

Rushton, A. and Walker, S. , (2007), remember that the 3PLs goals of customers include:

Mutually beneficial, long-term relationships;

Trust, openness and information sharing;

Dedicating the right customer resources at the right levels;

Clear service-level agreements (SLAs);

Fiduciary responsibility and overall fairness in costs.

One of the surest means of addressing ATC's transportation and circulation problems is to execute a critical research, properly identify current problems confronting ATC, and recommend appropriate areas to consider in the contract.

It is related in the case study that the current syndication of goods to customers had been outsourced to an area third party (3PL) contractor and that ATC is evidently not acquiring the best of services out of this existing 3PL builder. Increasing claims about past due deliveries to clients and problems posed by their driver's poor attitude are a few of the issues emanating from the procedures of the 3PL organization.

The contractor's performance is not tightly monitored probably due to the fact that there surely is no formal service level arrangement in place. Also, the existing contract which was let five years ago expires in two month's time.

Dede, the recently appointed administrator with responsibility for ATC's Logistics procedures has done some medical diagnosis/identification of the problems and that is clearly a positive step to look at the areas when renewing existing 3PL distribution contract which is almost scheduled for renewal.

In view to the fact that the existing 3PL provider hadn't performed satisfactorily, especially amid increased competition from large merchants, ATC may have to revisit the requirements and determine whether to renew the deal of the existing 3PL provider or even to participate the services of an entirely new organization totally. The steps mentioned below (outsourcing steps/process) should get serious awareness and used to ensure affordability.

This means that another agreement to be signed between ATC and any 3PL organization should among other things, seek to handle the loopholes and for that matter the challenges of the prevailing contract to attain competitive benefit. A lucid service level contract (SLA), which content shall clearly establish the requisite performance level should be drawn and rigorously implemented. Likewise, provision for the monitoring and management of the contract should be included into the SLA.

2. 5 Outsourcing Steps / Process

A amount of options can be found to ATC and the choice chosen will determine the procedure that will be adopted and implemented. Thus, if in the estimation of ATC, the 3PL contractor's non-performance is consequently of ATC's failure to keep an eye on and deal with the 5-time agreement that was let, then ATC could handily go on and renew the contract of the existing 3PL company on the idea that ATC will put measures in destination to step up guidance/management of the deal. Otherwise, if the 3PL provider's under-performance is therefore of its inefficiencies, then it could make a great deal of business sense to take corrective steps to engage the services of an totally different company to perform the distribution role. The diagram which appears below typically outlines steps that will guide selecting a third party distribution contract, especially in which a tender process is usually to be adopted to choose the most preferred contractor:

Figure 2. 0 Key steps of the builder selection process, source: Rushton A. et al (2010), web page 542

In selecting the most preferred 3PL supplier, ATC should be led by signals such as quality of service provided (velocity and accuracy and reliability of service), quality of folks (human resource calibre), cost of service (how inexpensive the business is), countrywide capabilities (in conditions of available equipment including vehicles, technology and other resources), sector experience (know-how and know-how), flexibility in problem solving and adjusting systems of 3PL to work with that of ATC.

2. 6 Factors to consider in renewing the 3PL syndication contract

Globally, but especially in Europe, the amount of 3PL users not renewing over fifty percent of their deals have increased considerably since the last time Eyeball for Move conducted its "3PL Selection & Agreements Renewal" study in '09 2009. Only 10% of 3PL users renew their 3PL agreements for longer than 3 years (Material Handling & Logistics, 2012).

To be able to effectively renew 3PL agreement, there is the need to have something level agreement set up which clearly suggest key performance indicators (KPI's). This is because it offers common floor for working through issues, bettering delivery service, monitoring costs, and identifying new opportunities.

Constantly evaluating the effectiveness of 3PL provider is critical to ascertain if the business's logistics requirements are being attained. A service level scorecard may be developed and used to serve as a performance checklist for 3PL company. This should however be up to date to represent current tendencies or changes within the supply chain of the company.

In as much as the main element performance indicators will vary by industry and priorities, the key ones that are to be considered in the event that ATC decides to renew the contract of its 3PL specialist have been mentioned here under:

Freight Cost - That is perhaps the most critical factor that ATC must consider in deciding whether or not to renew the contract of the 3PL firm. This is because one of the key reasons if not the key reason why organizations engage the services of a 3PL service provider is to save lots of costs and for that reason if it turns out that it is not inexpensive to continue to work with the 3PL supplier, then the whole goal has been defeated. Therefore, in renewing the deal the cost component of the 3PL provider's services, thus the cost of freighting goods per shipment, per circumstance, per ton-mile as well as by location, status of customers, and setting of travel used should be checked. A conclusion should therefore be reached concerning whether ATC gets value-for-money services and whether it is not relatively expensive employing the prevailing 3PL professional. Management of ATC should take keen involvement in this subject.

On-time delivery - Degrees of delivery service across ATC's network, particularly for key customers, as well as for inbound lots if applicable, is another factor to be looked at. Even though focuses on placed for these areas will and should vary based on in-house and customer requirements, they should be keenly watched and accurate information kept to enable ATC make the best decision on the existing 3PL company. Management of ATC could delegate this function to the dispatch section since they have been cited in the event study as being in charge of the day-to-day discussion with the 3PL company. Guidance from Top Management will be relevant to ensure that the right things are being done.

Loads Accepted by Major and Secondary Carriers - It is very important to closely keep an eye on the nature and amount of goods to be sent to customers. ATC shouldn't be disadvantaged at all and therefore irrespective of the type and amount of goods to be freighted, the expectation is usually that the 3PL organization is resourced and can deliver the requests of ATC's customers to them without limitations. The 3PL organization can freight goods ranging from a tiny parcel containing say expensive charms to a huge amount of goods that would require an articulated vehicle to freight to a person. Anything short of this means that the 3PL company is not fit for goal. Indeed it has implications for cost movements and capacity issues. In this regard, it should be carefully considered when renewing the deal of the 3PL company.

Sustainability Methods - The statistics on important parameters including the level of goods sent through intermodal transfer across the coverage zone of ATC as well as projected total miles protected via Smartway providers should be monitored. These reports should be critically analyzed viz-a-viz the sources of the current 3PL firm to determine its capacity to sustain the provision of logistics requirements of the business, especially, if the needs of the business are growing.

Accurate treatment of customer purchases - In deciding to renew the prevailing deal of 3PL organization of ATC, it is very imperative to evaluate how it treats customers' orders. This consists of complaints made by customer in regards to to deliveries made to them by the 3PL company like the timeliness and precision of deliveries. For example, if ATC continues to log claims from customers to the effect that they have been receiving incorrect deliveries and or their orders have been mistakenly delivered to an alternative addresses or deliveries have constantly arrived past due with or without previous information to them (customer), then ATC may have a problem renewing the existing deal of the 3PL firm.

Reporting system - In renewing the contract of 3PL supplier, the robustness of its confirming system should be critically evaluated. The reporting system used by the 3PL firm should have the capacity to get, process, store, generate and transmit reliable and valid information on their operations to ATC. The reporting system also needs to be user-friendly and really should also make information widely available to its users, specially the management of ATC to permit the making of informed decisions. The confirming system should allow different staff of ATC to access different degrees of information at any point in time; thus the bigger the position of officer at ATC, the greater his usage of information from the machine. The option of these features on the confirming system of 3PL service provider will be a main factor when renewing its contract.

Continuous monitoring of costs and budget - The power of the 3PL professional to consistently monitor the estimated cost and budget within which it is likely to operate will be looked at when renewing its deal. The total amount of unnecessary extra costs or bills/claims made in respect of concealed charges also needs to be considered during the renewal of its agreement.

Feedback of statistical information - This will include information such as variety of deliveries done within the time under review, the aspect/status of the goods shipped (for example amount of small drops, quality value items, heavy products which might require special equipment to unload, fragile items, quantity of complaints received from customers, situations/accidents that registered as well as the number of customers' goods which were damaged through the period. This responses should be communicated to the management of ATC in a timely manner for informed decision making. The rate of recurrence at which feedback of statistical information was provided would be considered through the renewal of the deal.

There are lots of other areas of the contract that needs to be considered by ATC to make the best decision to renew the 3PL circulation deal and even determine the appropriateness of the contract agreement document.

It is important to note that both people can create a contract that is designed around permanent strategic collaboration that focuses on mutual success.

Similarly, there exists the necessity to consider posting of common customer support vision and mutual trust, economical risk and how to control them along and whether the functions to the agreement can maintain or uphold ATC's designed standards service.

ATC is preferred to contract some sort of collaboration they can trust that is certainly also tailored towards cost effective solutions to recognized current problems.

2. 7 THE AREAS to consider in the Distribution contract document

Beyond the factors discussed above, there are a variety of other very important areas to consider while preparing the contract report between ATC and the 3 PL company. A few of them have been talked about hereunder:

2. 7. 1 Conditions and terms and Common Issues

Distribution agreements usually integrate the conditions and conditions of resource and deal, sometimes as a plan or annex to the arrangement. These will include all the nitty-gritty regarding equipment and sales, including the delivery of goods, the switch of risk and subject in the goods, inspection needs, profits, and so forth. Distribution agreements can be deficient of competitive laws and for that reason some treatment should be studied using their drafting.

Common areas that ATC needs to consider when drafting a good syndication agreement are:

The opportunity of the agreement;

Exclusivity or non-exclusivity (considering competition rules);

Non-compete requirements (considering competition laws);

Minimum performance tasks;

Reporting obligations;

Marketing rights;

Trade name licensing;

The relevant conditions and conditions of sales;

The circumstances under that your contract may be concluded; and

The implementations of termination.

Informal understanding often leads to misunderstanding. The procedure of jointly drafting a deal helps to ensure that the gatherings really agree after the conditions of the deal. It is equally important to notice that where misunderstanding occurs, a written agreement will most likely be helpful in their image resolution.

2. 7. 2 Minimum amount Target Obligations

The minimum target obligation ATC has enforced on the 3PL organization to ensure that the relevant market is totally exploited will be assessed. The minimum concentrate on necessity can either be for a minimum degree of sales by the 3PL supplier its customers, or for the very least level of procurement done by the distributor from the dealer. There also needs to be considered a provision in the arrangement as to how to handle distributor's inability to comply with the minimum targets.

2. 7. 3 Binding Aftereffect of Distribution Agreement

Once both people have agreed upon the arrangement it becomes a officially binding deal. Amendments, unless normally agreed upon by both gatherings, can't be made and can usually call for a new distribution arrangement to be created and agreed upon. The agreement is typically predicated on the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction of operation where circulation occurs. In case of overseas, needed alteration have to be manufactured in accordance with legal requirements of the jurisdiction where the distribution will take place. ATC needs to take this into consideration when renewing the 3PL provider's deal.

2. 7. 4 Termination

The termination of the arrangement and its consequences may be handled in a several ways. One issue that will demand particular attention is removal of stock on termination. The contract should clearly establish the assignments of both Primary and the 3PL distributor to ensure that both functions abide by the terms of the arrangement. The extent to which this has been enforced will be looked at during the renewal of ATC 3PL provider's contract.

2. 8 Management of 3PL contract

The factors behind failures of 3PL deals could basically be attributable to poor management of the relationship between your 2 parties. It is therefore imperative to note that both gatherings have a joint responsibility to help make the relationship work. In view of the, management of the 3PL deal should be plainly spelt out in the Service Level Arrangement.

To create a true partnership requires a high amount of trust and cooperation. It is thought that the degree of rely upon a relationship decides the amount of flexibility a customer will allow the 3PL in functioning to the best of its ability.

A good collaborative methodology will also support business change and issues, allowing both get-togethers to review continually the current status against the eyesight and to recognize actions to be studied to remain on course.

Another key component for guaranteeing a good relationship between specialist and customer is good communication. Needless to say, communication is the responsibility of both celebrations in the relationship and to ensure good degrees of communication they both need to provide programs for this to occur.

Monitoring is another important element that should be incorporated into the SLA and really should be used as one of the tools to effectively deal with the 3PL agreement. Regardless of owning a logistics procedure as an in-house manager or as an authorized contract manager the basic known reasons for monitoring the procedure are incredibly similar; to evaluate whether the procedure is meeting place service levels at an acceptable cost.

Rushton, A. and Walker, S. , (2007) discovered that the ultimate area of the outsourcing process is, therefore, to ensure that the builder is adequately supervised. This is a key consideration that is regrettably neglected by some users. The signing of the contract shouldn't be seen as the end of the outsourcing process. It is vital to continue to regulate and screen the 3PL to ensure that the overall business and functional targets are achieved.

Other key factors to consider in renewing 3PL contract or perhaps outsourcing a function to 3PL organization have been mentioned here under:

Set goals/establish KPIs: this deals with the persistence of goals, in line with the company's perspective and also good agreement, the Service Level Arrangement, the budget and motivation. These are then translated into ideal metrics in the Management Information System (MIS).

Track performance: this pertains to the supervision and where necessary controlling of the MIS and ideal key metrics at all activity levels. It encompasses regular review meetings to be held at various hierarchical echelon and its regularity as well as wide open book audits where necessary.

Identify opportunities: this includes both practical re-adjustments (individuals, facilities, etc) and potential tactical and tactical augmentation that ATC could benefit from.

Review and refine: this involves executing planned, strategic and functional advancements, fine-tuning and re-determining KPIs as necessary to reflect current developments.

Competitive benchmarking: this consists of the contrast of performance with competition that are successful within the same industry. That is aimed at reaching continuous improvement. Areas that could be looked at when benchmarking include cost of operations, timeliness in doing tasks, among others. Assuming that the 3PL gets paid by results achieved, it'll be encouraged to invest in efficient modern technology. In cases where both in-house and 3PL function operate within the same business network then one may be benchmarked against one another. This will certainly create an continuous healthy inside competitive pressure.

From the research study, no monitoring system had been invest location to check the procedures of the 3PL since SLA was non-existent. Actually, it was the Dispatch Office that will the day-to-day connections with the builder. This should be described as a worrying pattern for Dede and ATC for example.

Similarly, regular monitoring of costs as well as investigations conducted into any customer grievance or delays should be communicated to the management of ATC for necessary action. Producing and submitting periodic, preferably, regular operating records would be helpful for monitoring and controlling the procedures of the 3PL supplier. From the research study, none of this was being done.

It is to be emphasized that once the contract is awarded to an authorized, ATC should not simply sit back and relax with the hope that it needs not fret about the operations of the 3PL professional anymore. It is very important to make certain that the preferred third party distributor is get together the terms of the contract. In this respect, unambiguous tasks should be given from either attributes for handling the contract to ensure that the contract provisions and for that matter, service levels are found.

The management of the SLA and its items for ATC has been summarized in the diagram below:

Figure 3. 0 A standard approach to outsourcing management, source: Rushton et al. , (2010) web page 568


In approximately some companies are reluctant to engage the services of 3PL organizations to undertake some functions with their operations, more and more businesses are outsourcing techniques some functions, especially, logistics/supply string to specialists who've the expertise to provide superiority and efficiency at lower cost.

This agreement certainly allows companies to focus on their central business, functions and competencies. However, trust and self-confidence in the 3PL firm coupled with the signing of a working contract which also includes a comprehensive Service Level Agreement (SLA) should characterize the layout.

In the situation of ATC, it's important note that in achieving a decision to renew its existing 3PL provider's agreement, there is the need to adopt a far more systematic method of deal with the condition from the procedures of the 3PL firm. Conducting a situational research (SWOT and PESTLE) to actually uncover and offer with all the reasons accounting for the inefficiencies in the operations of its existing 3PL specialist will surely be one of the surest ways forwards. Management, thus steady monitoring, handling and overview of the main element Performance Signals (KPIs) can not only lay the foundation for better service but also it will lead to greater efficiencies and professionalism and reliability.


Akrofi, A. O. , (2012), Logistics Businesses Lecture Notes, [Unpublished], GTUC / Coventry University or college, December, 2012.

Coyle et al. , (2003), The Management of Business Logistics: A Source Chain Point of view, 7th edn, Transcontinental Louiseville, Quebec, Canada.

Material Handling & Logistics (2012), 3PL Users Renewing Agreements Less Often [Online]: http://mhlnews. com/archive/3pl-users-renewing-contracts-less-often, [Accessed on December 30, 2012].

Rushton, A. and Walker, S. , (2007), International logistics and supply chain outsourcing : from local to global, Kogan Page Small, UK.

Rushton et al. , (2010), The handbook of Logistics and Syndication Management, 4th Model, Kogan Limited, Great Britain.

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