Automation Solutions for Third-Party Logistics

Supply Chain Solutions for the 3PL Industry

Third-party logistics providers (3PLs) are the very definition of competitive advantage — they exist to provide warehouse and distribution services for customers faster and at a lower cost than customers could do themselves.

But not just customers. Third-party logistics providers also must be more flexible and efficient than their competitors. They need value-driven automation solutions that create clear advantages to ensure customers sign a contract now and remain with them in the future.

What are some current challenges for third-party logistics companies?

Customer demands have grown and will continue to grow, especially for improved services, speed-to-market, and sustainability. The traditional short-term solutions of hiring more workers and applying more manual resources are no longer feasible. The only way to scale is through automation. 

What are some successful 3PL strategies?

It’s important for you to look for the trends that apply to your situation and consider the resources available that are likely to facilitate success. Asking yourself these questions may help:

Many 3PLs are investing in robotics to achieve quick wins in continuous improvement. These are ideal because they achieve a fast ROI (within the remaining term of the contract) and often reduce headcount. Systems can be “copied and pasted” to several other sites.

Sometimes 3PLs have concerns about larger scale automation — will the investment pay off? With a manual warehouse solution, operators historically could add more people to process orders. This is becoming increasingly difficult due to labour constraints and costs.

The business case for automating temperature-controlled warehouse and distribution facilities is stronger than ever. For example, more healthcare and pharmaceutical distribution operations consider cooled or frozen environments for their products not as an additional benefit, but as an absolute requirement.

Third-party logistics providers are seeking not just growth, but sustainable growth. Dematic is partnering with Canadian 3PL, Groupe Robert on a facility that features temperature-controlled storage— 30,000 in fresh temperatures and 30,000 in frozen (down to -28 degrees Celsius). 

The facility will be equipped with a heat recovery system that uses heat generated by the refrigeration equipment to warm the inside of the facility and melt the snow on its loading docks. The system will have the capacity to heat the equivalent of 100 single-family homes. Other sustainable features include solar panels to augment energy efficiency and a rainwater collection system for washing trailers.

What logistics and distribution solutions should you consider for your 3PL?

Those are the common challenges for all third-party logistics companies. But your segment of the industry comes with its own particular challenges: 

Companies focused on the logistics and supply chain industry.

What are the most important things to consider when evaluating a partner for 3PL automation solutions?

Working in partnership with 3PLs, Dematic not only inspires but educates on solutions, provides information for end-customer presentations, and demonstrates credibility through case studies and site visits. Dematic instills confidence to help 3PLs start credible conversations that win customers.

Dematic can provide a pipeline of improvements so 3PLs can, in turn, provide improvements that keep existing customers and attract new ones. As a single source for everything a 3PL needs, Dematic provides a full solution that includes design, simulation, end-client presentations, software, implementation, project management, handover, servicing, and on-site support.

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