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What Best Practices Should a 3PL’s Distribution Center Employ?

3PL Distribution CenterAny 3PL service provider should have a set of best practices they abide by in order to offer the best service quality.

Does the 3PL you are using follow these rules? Check them out below and be sure to ask them if they do before you sign an agreement to work with them:

  • Advanced shipping notification should be used by your 3PL. This type of notification system tells your 3PL what they are receiving and when it is expected to arrive. Even though your 3PL can’t control when they actually receive certain product, they can prepare for its expected arrival. This gives them a better opportunity to receive the inventory, sort or store it, and then distribute it quickly.
  • Good 3PLs integrate their own operations with those of their suppliers. A 3PL should establish standard labeling requirements and shipment sizes with their vendors so they can quickly process all incoming shipments. Your 3PL might know this as a “vendor compliance program.” They shouldn’t view it as an oppositional relationship that requires “enforcement” however. Rather, both parties should look at it as a collaborative opportunity to increase value for both ends.
  • Automated inventory technology should alsobe used. Even though we live in the digital age, some 3PLs still take inventory by writing numbers on paper. This is a huge no-no for any 3PL that wants to be highly competitive. Instead, they should use bar codes and RF scanners. The benefits of reduced labor costs because of electronic inventory systems are well-documented.
  • A standardized approach to picking. Picking should not be done haphazardly by having more workers come in when there’s more inventory to process. Instead, a good 3PL studies the most efficient ways possible to pick through the entire inventory it receives. There may be different zones for full pallet and individual item picking, for example. That’s not specifically the way it has to be done, but the point is that a quality 3PL has a thoroughly researched system in place they continuously work to improve.

It’s not a Full List, But it is a Starting Point

This isn’t an entire list of third party logistics best practices, but it does give a starting idea of what you should be looking for in an established 3PL service provider. If you’re considering switching 3PLs soon, or if you’re growing enough to look for one for the very first time, make sure to ask them how these processed work at their facilities.

Posted: 9/17/2013 11:34:21 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments


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