In the fast-moving industry of transportation, players like to throw around abbreviations and like BOL, POD, and 3PL. Wait a minute, did that last one have a number in it?
3PL, or third-party logistics, is a significant part of freight shipping. Their primary purpose is to connect shippers with carriers who want to move their freight. Although, they add so much more value to a load than just that.
Sometimes understanding what a 3PL does can get a bit confusing. Do they call drivers all day? Do they work at warehouses? What do they do?!
Here are some details to what a 3PL does, and why it is beneficial for shippers and carriers to work alongside them.
Acquiring the freight
A logistics professionalâ€™s day starts with a shipper contacting them to get a freight order moved from Point A to Point B. The 3PL accepts the order and thus accepts the responsibility and liability of making sure it arrives on time and in the same condition.
Using a 3PL is a value-added service. While some shippers and carriers feel they could manage loads themselves, most companies find it more efficient to outsource the logistics to a 3PL so that they can focus on their work.
At Shipwell, our Managed Services Team works with thousands of shippers to manage their freight and ensure a secure and timely transport to their customers.
See what people are saying about our Managed Services team!
Arranging the transport
One of the most valuable services a 3PL does is arrange the transportation of a shipperâ€™s freight. Logistics pros hire qualified and skilled carriers to transport the freight, or â€œrun the loadâ€ as we say in the business.
Experienced logistics professionals build a network of carriers whom they have trusted working relationships. Often, a 3PL will call a trusted carrier for regular loads once they get an order from a shipper.
They provide extensive details, such as:
- Pickup location
- Delivery location
- Trailer requirements
- Additional equipment needed (straps, demurrage, etc.)
- How the load is packaged (pallets, crates, etc.)
- Special handling instructions
- Contact info
Shipwell is connected with over 2+ million carriers, and we always try to fit the right carrier for the load. Those carriers can see all of these details in the Shipwell platform and stay informed throughout the transport.
Ensuring a smooth pick up
When carriers arrive at the loading facility, 3PLs ensure that the driver knows where to go and what they are picking up.
In the Shipwell mobile app, drivers can access all necessary documents automatically. A Bill of Lading can be seen and signed, and both 3PL and shippers can see when shipment statuses have updated.
One of the most critical things third-party logistics companies do is providing tracking for shippersâ€™ freight. In most logistics companies, this is done by calling a driver every hour or so to keep up with where the truck is and the ETA.
However, we at Shipwell know how that can wear on a driver. Thatâ€™s why we can track shipments with fewer check calls.
Through ELD, EDI, and API integrations, a native mobile app, plus AI-powered check calls, Shipwell can track a shipment with little to no added work on the driver. Itâ€™s just one more way Shipwell is looking to optimize the freight industry and simplify truckersâ€™ tasks.
Finally, when the truck reaches the receiving facility, 3PLs facilitate the required paperwork to close the order and begin carrier invoicing. If carriers use the Shipwell app, PODs can be signed within the app. No more keeping track of papers and finding scanners or fax machines on the road.
Data-driven supply chain optimization
When working with Shipwell, you gain critical access to data on your entire supply chain operation. You’ll be able to:
- Identify weak links in your supply chain and improve your overall performance
- Find points where pick up or drop off times are late to identify issues within your distribution centers that could be holding up your freight
- Identify which carriers work best for your unique logistics operation
- Discover how much you’re really spending on freight
- And much more
Above all, a 3PL is essential in the freight industry to manage issues throughout shipments so that shippers, carriers, and the receiving party can all focus on their jobs.
Logistics is a tough part of the industry, but it can be made easier. Shipwellâ€™s platform offers real-time visibility, centralized documentation and order information, and communication solutions to help connect shipment personnel. We also support 3PLs through our platform to automate your freight booking workflows.