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A deep dive into 3PL and 4PL solutions for global supply chains

Enhancing your global supply chain journey:

Are you struggling with the complexities of a global supply chain? In-house silos, evolving dynamics, and unpredictable external factors can drain your resources and leave you trailing behind. In today’s hyper-connected environment, the demand for speed, transparency, and cost-effectiveness is higher than ever.

Even if you already have a trusted 3PL (third-party logistics) partner, a well-structured and experienced 3PL or 4PL (fourth-party logistics) provider can act as a powerful force multiplier. These solutions inject additional expertise, flexibility, and peace of mind into your operations, helping you achieve:

  • Streamlined processes: Optimise and improve existing operational efficiency alongside your current 3PL.
  • Reduced costs: Leverage the network and expertise of a larger organisation to potentially negotiate better rates and identify further cost-saving opportunities.
  • Real-time visibility: Gain access to advanced technology and data-driven insights that complement your existing 3PL services, providing a more comprehensive view of your supply chain.

By partnering with a well-established 3PL or 4PL, you can further enhance your existing logistics network and gain access to a wider range of resources and expertise, ultimately leading to greater efficiency, cost savings, and overall supply chain resilience.

Why explore 3PL and 4PL solutions?

  • Internal challenges: Fragmented departments and outdated technology causing delays? 3PLs and 4PLs offer integrated systems and expert teams, streamlining operations and saving time and money.
  • External threats: Concerned about disruptions from geopolitical tensions, pandemics or general disruption through global supply chains? These solutions provide risk mitigation strategies and agile networks, ensuring flexibility and resilience.
  • Hyperconnected expectations: Struggling to keep up with digital demands for trend forecasting and data-driven decisions? 3PLs and 4PLs excel at comprehensive visibility and data-driven insights, keeping you ahead of the competition.

At Ligentia, we’re more than just another logistics provider, we’re partners invested in your success. With over 1,300 global supply chain experts, we offer tailored solutions, cutting-edge technology, and an unwavering commitment to exceeding expectations. Let’s simplify your supply chain journey together.

3PL (third-party logistics):

Third-party logistics, or 3PL, involves outsourcing logistics and supply chain management functions to a specialised external provider. This strategic partner manages transportation, warehousing, distribution and other logistics services, allowing businesses to concentrate on core competencies while benefiting from specialised expertise and operational efficiency.

How we can help:

Think of 3PL as your trusted ally, handling essential yet time-consuming aspects of your supply chain. Our comprehensive 3PL solutions seamlessly integrate a wide range of services to enhance overall operations:

Optimising costs:

  • Total cost control: Harness our 25+ years of expertise and global network to minimise expenses throughout your supply chain.
  • Transparent rates: Attain control with clear, upfront pricing, eliminating hidden charges.
  • Ligentix platform: Empower yourself with end-to-end supply chain management tools, offering transparency and control.
  • Origin and destination efficiency: Dedicated expert local teams consistently optimise costs through efficient operations.

Continuous improvement:

  • Improvement journey: Collaborate with our expert teams for ongoing supply chain optimisation.
  • Industry-specific solutions delivered seamlessly: We conduct a comprehensive end-to-end analysis followed by tailored recommendations that seamlessly integrate into your industry’s workflow, ensuring a smooth and effective implementation.
  • Expert insights: Access actionable data through customer teams and Ligentix analytics for improved operations.
  • Handy Customer Hub: Enjoy 24/7 support, industry news, and document retrieval through a centralised platform.

Supply chain transformation:

  • Ligentix, our proprietary supply chain management platform: Experience a digital platform for end-to-end SKU-level visibility, seamless ERP integration, and real-time status tracking.
  • Proactive exception alerts: Preset parameters highlight deviations, allowing focus on critical tasks or expert intervention.
  • Supplier Portal: Streamline information flow with the Ligentix portal, enabling online supplier bookings and cargo handover confirmations.
  • Best practice innovation: Global experts constantly improve and develop supply chain processes through automation and best practice implementation.

Adaptability to change:

  • Agile supply chains: Respond swiftly to disruptions with Ligentia’s global teams and advanced technology.
  • Carrier selection: Collaborate with us to choose optimal carriers for capacity, routings, speed and cost based on your needs and preferences.
  • Expert origin teams: Ground teams provide early warnings and SKU impact assessments during disruptions.
  • Flexible Supplier Portal: Empower suppliers to modify bookings, minimising disruption impact.

Data-driven decision-making:

  • End-to-end visibility: Track every shipment, Purchase Order and item in real-time through the Ligentix platform.
  • Seamless integration: Ligentix integrates with all our customer ERP systems for efficient data exchange, ensuring all systems have the same live supply chain data and all departments within our customers have the data required to plan and manage.
  • Automatic exception alerts: Proactive issue resolution is enabled by configurable preset parameters highlighting critical path deviations.
  • Business intelligence analytics: Make data-driven decisions with comprehensive tools for continuous optimisation.

Sustainable practices:

  • Efficiency for sustainability: Reduce costs and carbon emissions through Ligentia’s focus on efficient supply chains.
  • Carbon reporting: Informed decision-making on emissions reduction is provided through regular reporting and analysis from our accredited partner Pledge.
  • Collaborative approach: We collaborate with stakeholders for efficiency and environmental benefits, highlighting the options to customers.
  • Tailored solutions: Explore efficient fuels, packaging optimisation strategies and container utilisation initiatives.

With Ligentia, you secure a dedicated partner, expertise, and technology to streamline operations, optimise costs, and navigate change with agility.

3PL where there isn’t a 4PL

In situations where a 4PL provider is not present, a single 3PL often takes on many responsibilities traditionally associated with 4PLs. These additional functions can include:

  • Technology provision: Providing the technology platform for managing the entire supply chain, including warehouse management systems (WMS) and transportation management systems (TMS).
  • Reporting and analytics: Offering comprehensive reports and analytics across the entire supply chain, allowing for data-driven decision making.
  • Supply chain development: Collaborating with the client to continuously improve and optimise the supply chain for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The key difference compared to a 4PL, however, is that the 3PL won’t be managing other providers or contracts on the client’s behalf. Instead, they will likely manage their own network of subcontractors and providers to deliver the complete service.

3.5 PL / shades of grey

The lines between 3PL and 4PL services can often be blurred. There may not always be clear-cut definitions, and the offered services can fall somewhere along a spectrum, either formally or informally.

Here are some examples illustrating the lack of distinct boundaries:

  • A 3PL managing other providers: A 3PL might manage another provider like a freight forwarder or customs broker to strengthen and support their full service offering to the client.
  • Network overlap: All 3PLs typically have their own networks of subcontractors and providers. These networks can overlap with competitors, and sometimes even provide services to the same clients.

This “shades of grey” aspect highlights the dynamic nature of the logistics industry, where companies constantly adapt their services to cater to diverse client needs.

4PL (fourth-party logistics):

Fourth-party logistics, or 4PL, takes logistics outsourcing a step further by managing and coordinating the entire supply chain on behalf of the client. A 4PL provider acts as an integrator, overseeing multiple 3PLs and other suppliers to optimise and streamline the entire supply chain process. They focus on strategic planning, technology integration, and overall supply chain management, providing a higher level of coordination and efficiency.

How we can help:

As your 4PL partner, Ligentia goes beyond traditional 3PL orchestration, transforming into a tech-enabled extension of your team. We seamlessly integrate technology solutions with the collaborative expertise of over 1,300 global supply chain professionals, all dedicated to ensuring the flawless operation of your entire supply chain. By combining cutting-edge technology and human ingenuity, we work together to optimise, streamline, and elevate your logistics operations, ensuring a synchronised and efficient supply chain experience.

Integrated ecosystem:

We carefully select and manage a network of 3PL providers, creating a cohesive and streamlined system tailored to your unique needs.

  • Data-driven decisions: Unlock valuable insights with our real-time data analytics, empowering you to make informed decisions for continuous improvement.
  • Unparalleled visibility: Gain end-to-end visibility across your entire supply chain, tracking every aspect of your logistics operations in real-time.
  • Robust risk management: Mitigate disruptions and unforeseen challenges with our proactive risk management strategies, ensuring your supply chain remains resilient.
  • One channel of communications: All communications whether this is from your sourcing base, transport providers or other third parties is channelled through the 4PL, providing simplicity and consistency.

Let’s go beyond, together

Beyond the differences between 3PL and 4PL, at Ligentia, we offer customers a partnership that helps them to navigate the ever-evolving logistics landscape.  Our passion lies in exceeding expectations, and this is reflected in our commitments to customers:

  • Pushing boundaries with expertise: Our team of seasoned professionals anticipates and overcomes challenges with passion, agility, and expertise.
  • Global presence, local insight: Strategically positioned hubs ensure local understanding coupled with seamless global connectivity.
  • Anticipating the unexpected: We proactively navigate disruptions, minimising impact on your business.
  • Ligentix – real-time control: Our proprietary technology empowers you with complete visibility and control over your inventory, enabling informed decision-making.
  • Adaptable, flexible, and agile: We tailor our approach to your specific needs and remain flexible to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Reliable solutions you can trust: Consistency and unwavering reliability are at the core of our mission.
  • Fueling innovation:We continuously invest in research and development, exploring new technologies and strategies to push the boundaries of supply chain efficiency. Creating  better, more sustainable supply chains.

By partnering with Ligentia, you gain access to not only established solutions but also a commitment to innovation and continuous improvement. We believe in collaborating with our customers to drive positive change within the supply chain landscape.

Embrace supply chain management excellence with Ligentia:

Whether you seek to optimise specific areas or require a comprehensive end-to-end solution, Ligentia is your gateway to unparalleled supply chain management excellence. Connect with us today and embark on a journey towards unmatched efficiency, cost savings, and peace of mind. Let’s elevate your global supply chain experience together.