Tag Archives: 3PL

How Oil and Gas Companies Can Benefit from 3PL Partnership

Unlike any other industry, oil and gas supply chains are incredibly complex. Supplying every operation with heavy equipment, rigs, pipes and hazardous materials requires extreme organization and strategy. Transporting such materials in such large volume demands using multiple modes, high capacity, special vehicles and strict regulatory compliance.  

Oil and gas supply chains cannot survive any delays, disruptions or poor management. Every mistake and missed deadline can cost a company thousands of dollars. the mismanagement of such global processes can cause worldwide issues because the entire world is highly dependent on energy supplies.

Read How to Optimize Your Oil and Gas Supply Chain

Handling logistics for oil and gas companies by yourself is an expensive and inefficient approach, which often lacks visibility. Transportation is a large branch of the energy business and requires tons of time, efforts and enormous responsibility. Just one rig site may involve equipment from 80 different carriers. Considering that most of the drilling sites are located in inaccessible areas, it’s hard to imagine the volume of responsibility and costs involved in the process.

Many companies apply customized shipping solutions to their supply chains by outsourcing logistics operations to third-party logistics providers, or 3PLs. Outsourcing offers many benefits to energy companies:

Customized solutions

Finding the right transportation mode and providing necessary equipment is crucial for on-time delivery. 3PLs partner with a wide range of experienced carriers and have a variety of options to offer for your shipping needs. Flatbed trucking, casing and tubing deliveries, rig site delivery, combining transportation modes, warehousing, freight management, and hotshot services – all of these options fall under a 3PLs expertise.

Read Do I Need Logistics Help for Mining, Oil & Gas Operations?

Safety

Unlike many other industries, safety is a top priority for the oil and gas sector due to its specific nature. Cutting costs on safety compliance is unacceptable, and 3PLs consider this factor while managing your supply chain. Logistics experts will provide assistance with regulatory compliance and ensure the transportation runs smoothly.

Technology and visibility

Due to its complexity and time-sensitivity, oil and gas logistics operations require increased visibility. Multiple processes mean lots of data that needs to be stored and systematized efficiently. 3PLs leverage advanced transportation management systems (TMS), which give complete visibility into supply chain and reports at all times.

Read Transportation Management in the Oil & Gas Industry

When choosing a 3PL for your logistics solutions, consider the experience they have in your sector. While technology and a variety of carriers are important, understanding the specifics of oil and gas industry challenges is a key feature to look for.

Key Things To Know About Shipping Oversized Loads

Whether you’re shipping equipment, steel items or any other oversized load that is beyond regular shipping services competence, it is considered over-dimensional freight. Shipping such loads may be burdensome and complicated, as freight requires special vehicles, precise control and has to meet delivery deadlines.

What are the measurements of oversized freight?

Navigating the waters of over-dimensional cargo can be tricky, and it’s important to know some essential information before searching for a shipping partner. One of the key aspects you should grasp are the legal limits of oversized freight.

In the U.S., your load is oversized if it exceeds 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m) width, 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m) height, and is more than 48-53 ft in length. However, these measurements are generalized, and every state has its own regulations. You can check the relevant load dimensions here.

What factors should be considered while shipping an oversized load?

Shipping oversized, unusual loads may be challenging. It is important to prepare ahead of time and think through many key points before getting the load on the road:

  • Define your dimensions. As we discussed above, it is important to know what you are going to ship: measurements, weight, and special requirements. Once you’ve determined the load size and your freight class, the next steps should run smoothly.
  • Plan in advance. Shipping heavy hauls may take time and effort, so it’s better to have time for planning. Maybe you will need escorted shipping services, a special vehicle, or other assistance. Once you’re armed with a suitable time frame, the shipping arrangement process becomes less stressful. 
  • Partner with a reliable 3PL. Arranging transportation of oversized freight can cause a lot of stress, expenses and still doesn’t ensure a successful outcome. An experienced shipping partner will execute the most burdensome work, which is obtaining a carrier, negotiating the price, getting permits, providing freight management and expert consulting.
  • Be ready for unpredictable circumstances. Unexpected things can occur during every single shipment, such as weather conditions, hurricanes, driving restrictions, etc. It’s better to reserve some time for unpredictable delays than to think these occurrences won’t happen to you.

Final thoughts

With a well-prepared strategy, reserved amount of time and a dedicated shipping partner, moving oversized freight can be easier than you might imagine. The mentioned practices will help you plan your next oversized shipment efficiently.

Need to ship an oversized load? PLS Logistics Services is here for you. Request a free quote now!

3PL Trends That Are Shaping the Logistics Industry

Third-party logistics providers already make a big impact in the transportation industry today. According to surveys, the amount of 3PLs users is growing and has reached 81 percent for domestic transportation in 2018. There is no surprise that fast and convenient shipping is a must for a company’s success. As demands for delivery rates and customer service rise every day, efficient transportation management becomes crucial to stay in the game.

There is a boiling competition between 3PL providers to stay ahead of trends on the market and in the industry. As big players like Amazon set the shipping standards higher and higher, third-party logistics services must apply smart technologies and follow the trends to keep moving forward. Here are the main trends that 3PLs should focus on to in order to enhance their service and capabilities:

1. Value-added services and transparency. One of the most influential and enduring trends in 3PLs’ future is efficient communication with clients. No business today survives only on a good product or technology — customer service is vital for building brand identity and obtaining loyal partners. Unorganized and complicated transportation management is reasonably outdated, so transparency and value-added services will become more prevalent in the upcoming years. Free audits, forecasts, list of available services, and freight visibility will increase customers’ confidence level, giving you a primary advantage over the competitors.

2. Analytics and automation. Year after year, it becomes more relevant and needed, and 3PLs need to invest in new technologies to keep an eye on insights and have more accountability and information for boosting sales. New technology helps bring more consistency to the supply chain, and automation is essential for operating the logistics process. The decrease of labor-intensive tasks and cut of manual work involvement causes faster and more efficient production. 3PLs should utilize technologies that will fill in the current gaps in the chain, from transportation management systems to self-driven vehicles.

3. Investing in the last-mile delivery. We all have to confess that shipping giants like UPS and Amazon are setting the trends for the industry. At this point, they have already developed specialized services for quick and reliable delivery directly to the customer. Last-mile delivery is the final element of the shipping process that leaves a certain impression about the shipping provider in the customers mind. Even if someone else failed, you are responsible for the consequences and customers’ experience. Investing in better service and technology to improve the last step of shipping is vital.

There is no doubt that 3PLs are in demand, but this also means an increase in the competition. As technology continues to advance and companies integrate their shipping process and supply chains, new trends will come into focus throughout 2019 and into the future.

4 Tips for a Sustainable Supply Chain

Pressure to push sustainability into the supply chain has significantly increased in recent years. Having a sustainable supply chain is quickly becoming a necessary part of every business model.

By managing and improving economic, social and environmental performance throughout supply chains, companies can cut back on the waste of resources, optimize processes, uncover product innovations, save costs, increase productivity and promote corporate values. Research shows the business case for supply chain sustainability is growing.

Incorporating sustainability into a company’s supply chain can be complex, but the failure to act may be the biggest risk of all. Here are 4 tips for companies to move toward sustainable supply chains:

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1. Map Your Supply Chain

Make sure that you fully understand the unique challenges your company and your suppliers face. Many companies do not have a good understanding of the environmental impacts of their supply chain. A way for companies to get started on being more sustainable is to inventory suppliers, identify the most significant environmental and social challenges they have and prioritize efforts with suppliers.

2. Communicate Expectations

Focusing on sustainability within your supply chain is a great way to communicate corporate values and culture to your suppliers and customers. Establishing and communicating expectations through a supplier code of conduct is a critical step in involving suppliers in your sustainability efforts.

3. Develop Training and Capacity Building Programs

This is an important step in improving sustainability and driving behavioral changes throughout your supply chain. Many external resources are available to support these efforts, and some are tailored to specific sector needs.

4. Join Industry Collaboration

Many companies recognize that complex supply chain challenges cannot be solved by individual efforts and that industry wide collaboration is required. These collaborations help prevent audit fatigue, training redundancy and mountains of paperwork for suppliers working to meet similar requirements from their customers. Working with your industry peers is a great way to share knowledge about the sustainability performance of your suppliers.

Strengthening the industry’s sustainability efforts as a whole, in turn, benefits each company within it individually. The sooner you establish a sustainable supply chain, the better, as the benefits and requirements to do so will only continue to grow as time goes on.

 

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Increase Lead Times, Decrease Costs

The concept of lead time when booking loads is a commonly overlooked factor when delivering freight efficiently and economically. You may have heard your logistics partner say that providing more notice days or lead time for a shipment could help lower costs…

But how is this possible?iStock-698740028

To put it simply, the more in advance a third-party logistics provider (3PL) books a load, the more time and control they have over the following:

  • Negotiating pricing
  • Finding savings or efficiency improvements
  • Securing top providers
  • Scheduling ideal delivery times

Whereas on the other hand, when working to book a truck for next-day delivery, capacity is tighter, prices are usually higher and fewer delivery options are available.

In addition to these basic principles, more time between when an order is scheduled and when its picked up allows your logistics provider to play more of a consultative role. Instead of immediately responding to a request, they can analyze the potential for more cost savings and efficiencies. This could include suggestions to switch from truck to rail, try new order consolidation techniques and/or switch up network configuration.

Benefits of Providing More Shipment Lead Time

  • Lower rates
  • More capacity
  • Preferred carrier availability
  • Access to ideal delivery appointment times
  • Higher service levels
  • Better on-time performance
  • Fewer surprises
  • More control over expenditures
  • Possible identification of new savings and efficiencies

To sum it up…

Advanced scheduling is a step in the right direction towards greater visibility, as well as logistics managers having the ability to regulate time in their operations more precisely, which in turn can generate more capacity. That type of visibility goes well beyond the technology used to track and trace pallets and trucks today.

 

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Choosing the Right 3PL for 2018

With all the discussion about capacity and high rates in the transportation industry, the task of finding a new 3PL to move your product is not any easier. 2018, the time of record diesel prices, higher than normal truck rates and a pretty tight capacity. You may have looked into a new provider recently but were faced with the daunting question of WHO? Well, look no further, as well have a thought out list of what to look for when choosing a 3PL that works for you.

Technology

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Using a 3PL that has access to the latest technology is wise. That means that they are committed to efficiency. The right technology can lower your costs, cut your use time, and increase your productivity. Moder- day 3PLs use a transportation management system (TMS) that can provide many benefits for the 3PL, the carrier, and the shipper. The most up to date systems are beginning to roll out newly advanced tracking to allow further transparency when moving a load. Their technology is yours to use, which can also help you plan shipments at your convenience allowing a system that can provide the user with all the data they need before, during, and after a shipment.

Flexible

A strong 3PL understands your needs and tailor to your requirements because not every shipment is the same. Those that utilize a one-price-fits-all concept should be avoided at all costs, they won’t be as effective or cost friendly. Your chosen 3PL will have the ability to adjust at a moment’s notice should something arise that interferes with the plan that they tailored to you. It’s also great to have 3PL that can adapt to your expansion and grow as you grow. Having the right resources is important if they plan to adapt to your growth…

Communication

Communication is the key to success in any industry, but more so for the transportation industry where everything is constantly in motion. A 3PL should be ready to create a strong relationship with you if they want to succeed. Having a clear understanding of each other’s needs and goals is important. Once there is a mutual understanding, it becomes easier for a 3PL to tailor to your needs. Communication also involves the use of clearly defined metrics that you (as the customer), have the ability to view in a simple and easy to read format. Metrics will help you to understand how your operations are doing, and what you can do (or your 3PL can do) to make improvements. Your 3PL will be able to communicate with you whenever something arises, whether it’s good or bad, in a fast and responsive manner.

Transportation

You are looking for a 3PL so they can organize a shipment (or shipments) right? That should be what they are good at if they are in this industry. Some may say they are but may lack the experience to back it up. Find one that has a good history of experience, they will make sure your shipment goes to the right location in the right timeframe. The right 3PL will do this at a cost that is effective for your budget and help to maintain those low costs during changes in the industry when we view spikes (such as the industry currently). It’s also wise to understand the carriers they use and if they are reliable. Having a 3PL with access to a multitude of carriers creates more options for you for price, reliability, and geographical coverage. The larger their network is, the better they can assist your growth.

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The Features of a Successful Transportation Management System (TMS)

Sometimes technology can be frustrating, but with the right product, it doesn’t have to be. An effective Transportation Management System (TMS) can relieve frustration out of your day if you’re a shipper, carrier, or 3PL. A TMS combines the latest technology in an easy formula to make a one-stop-shop. It can offer the most value to a shipper and provide unlimited strategic potential for all parties along the supply chain.

3PLs have recognized opportunities where they can create positive change within their business by introducing a TMS that provide a large range of functions. With greater visibility, shippers are given more detailed information for their viewing when they are organizing a shipment through their chosen 3PL. 3PLs also will see increased efficiency, streamlined business decisions, and satisfied customers.

Each system has its own features that differentiate it from others. Knowing what features work best for you will vary as well. Here is a list of just some of the features a TMS can offer your business:

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Carrier Contact Management

  • Allows the ability to view and compare contracts and costs with ease through the use of digitalized contacts
  • Real-time tracking of terms and agreements
  • Contract alerts when it’s time for renewal

Reporting and Analytics

  • Offers scrubbed invoices that allow for thought-out business decisions on things like freight spend
  • Optimized historical shipment data for greater referencing
  • Displays distribution patterns
  • Review of industry trends
  • Insights into demand/order forecasts

Risk Management

  • Automates the auditing process
  • Generates reports as seen above to minimize potential risks
  • Allows the ability to build contingency plans ahead of time
  • Can be set with automatic alerts

Visibility

  • Ability to track and trace shipments from pickup to delivery
  • Status update notifications
  • Auto pick up
  • Integration with a carrier using EDI
  • Display of costs and additional charges allowing an easy opportunity to compare
  • Estimations on cost of delivery

Business Monitoring

  • Review performance metrics
  • Review key performance indicators (KPIs)
    • On-time performance
    • Lane analysis
    • Volume trends
    • Cost per mile
    • Cost per ton
    • Financial reporting

 

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4 Reasons To Use A 3PL In Times Of Capacity Crisis

It’s not a secret that we are all currently operating in the conditions of the record-breaking capacity crunch. The crisis has been caused by several factors which we have previously discussed in our post, even more so with the ELD mandate finally going into effect on December 18th.

iStock-853676744.jpgPredictably, capacity tightened further during the last week of December. Yes, there were fewer trucks out there due to holidays, but same goes for loads. We witnessed the load-to-truck ratio increase significantly compared to the same time last year, vividly illustrating current market conditions.

According to recent DAT data, dry van load-to-truck ratio hit the highest monthly average ever recorded by DAT of 9 dry van loads per truck (139% higher than in December 2016). The flatbed ratio increased by 77% compared to the same time last year hitting 35.6 loads per truck, while reefer ratio of 14.1 loads per truck was 73% higher than that of December 2016.

Undoubtedly, this affects both, shippers and 3PL’s. However, a 3PL may have better capabilities of navigating in the tight market. How can a 3PL help shippers get through the capacity crisis?

Carrier Relationships

A well-established 3PL will have years of thoughtfully developed and nurtured carrier relationships. Strong relationships are crucial for stability and better rates, and you will be able to benefit from them.

Buying power

Hand-in-hand with the above, a 3PL has volume across various transportation modes, which gives them leverage in negotiating with new carrier contacts and developing mutually beneficial relationships. This helps them constantly expand their network and move your freight easier.

Expertise

3PL’s work with various customers and come across various, often uncommon, situations. They might be able to offer an alternative, more efficient and cost-effective, solutions for your freight based on their previous experience.

Support

It wouldn’t be called “crisis” if it was pleasant! At the end of the day, a 3PL is there to make your life easier. Their priority is to provide value-driven transportation solutions for their customers and make their supply chain operations a little less stressful.

We are already in 2018, and the forecast remains the same: the crisis is not expected to pass before the end of the year. The best way to survive it is to use all the tools at your disposal and maximize your efficiency.

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Busting The Myths About Non-Asset Based 3PL’s

We understand why it might often be assumed that an asset-based carrier has more advantages than a 3PL. Quite often, shippers don’t feel comfortable working with non-asset based 3PL’s and end up limiting, and thus hurting, their supply chain.

There are a few common myths surrounding the never-ending Asset Based VS Non-Asset Based battle. It’s time to look at these misconceptions and destroy the myths.

Myth #1: 3PL is a middle-man, thus, their service will be more expensive.

You remove an extra tier and save money. It seems straight-forward, right?

Well, this is actually not true! 3PL’s can offer better rates due to their extensive carrier base and volume. 3PL’s take full advantage of discounted backhaul rates and use their volume to negotiate the best rates.

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In addition, a 3PL will always negotiate in the customer’s best interest as they are not putting your freight on their own trucks.

Myth #2: It’s harder for a 3PL to provide stable capacity for your freight

They never have a truck right there in the yard which they can send to pick up your load immediately.

They don’t, but an asset-based carrier might not have a free truck sitting there waiting for the load, either. As already mentioned above, a 3PL has constant access to an extensive carrier base and has much better chances of finding a qualified available carrier to receive your shipment.

3PL’s are constantly building strong relationships with carriers to be able to provide stable capacity for their customers even in the times of a capacity crunch.

Myth #3: It’s harder to rectify issues with a 3PL

It will take longer, and it will be much harder to resolve issues/claims when you have to go through an extra company between you and a carrier.

You might think so, but successful resolution and customer satisfaction is a 3PL’s first priority, and they will fight for you on your behalf. Instead of going directly after a carrier (who will tend to be more interested in defending their own interests), you will have a 3PL claims department working in your best interest to get the claim taken care of.

Overall, a 3PL will always be on your side – It’s literally their job to minimize potential issues and make the process as smooth as possible for you.

Have any of the above been holding you back from partnering up with a 3PL? Maybe this will help you tackle your fears and open new supply chain opportunities for your business.

Don’t put unnecessary limits on your supply chain. Looking for a 3PL to help you handle your transportation needs? We are here to help!

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Are SOP’s Important for Logistics Operations?

As we have mentioned in an earlier post, one of the traits of a successful 3PL is having established processes in place, or in other words, standard operating procedures (SOP’s). It’s hard to overestimate the importance of SOP’s in general, but even more so in logistics operations. This is not only applicable for 3PL’s – any supply chain/warehousing operations will benefit greatly from implementing SOP’s into their day-to-day.

Established processes are key to ensuring effective and efficient operations, which is crucial for the profitability of any business. How will you benefit from implementing standard operating procedures?

iStock-639015586.jpgEasier onboarding. Even if your company is providing solid training, SOP’s will be an extremely helpful tool for new hires during their first days. They will feel more confident and will catch up faster if they have access to a comprehensive standard protocol they can follow.

Fewer mistakes. The most obvious benefit. Well-designed SOP’s are developed to avoid most common mistakes and potential problematic situations. In logistics industry, small mistakes and overlooked details almost always cost you money.

Professionalism. Your company will look much more professional if all representatives are following certain established processes. Standard procedures will ensure they are able to handle any situation themselves without having to check on every single detail and verify everything with their supervisor.

Turnover. Goes hand in hand with onboarding – SOP’s will help keep operations running if people are replaced or switched to different teams. This will minimize training time and help the back-up employee/rest of the team to step in, cover the tasks and efficiently perform the duties in the meantime.

Efficiency. Overall, many companies have proven that SOP’s are the cornerstone of company efficiency. By eliminating the guessing game, employees achieve better results by having solid foundation to build up on. Inefficient supply chain operations can ruin any business, whatever industry you are in.

Savings. Most importantly, SOP’s will save you money by streamlining the operations and eliminating mistakes. Tiny mistakes in your logistics operations may lead to significant financial losses if not caught in time. Eliminate this risk by implementing quality SOP’s to ensure your supply chain is working like a well-oiled machine.

Need advice on managing your supply chain? We’re here to help!

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