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The challenge that many supply chain leaders face is that many aspects of visibility and control are lost over inbound supply chains when purchasing from global suppliers.

Infor has published a guide on improving 3PL strategies to deliver value, which we are taking a closer look at here. Worldwide supply chain flows require transport to be orchestrated across multiple regions, borders between countries and different methods of transport. The complexity of transport can be helped by third-party logistics (3PL) providers.

With their own transport staff, familiarity with regions and expertise within them, and multiple supporting service offerings, 3PL providers can ease the burden. Whilst order consolidation at origin, temporary warehousing, transportation booking, tendering and execution can all be made easier, transportation service costs and performance can be more difficult to manage when outsourced.

Using 3PL systems can lead to a loss in control over outsourced activities, due to the lack of a centralised cloud platform used to standardise information across all providers. Information must be gathered across regions and modes in different formats and with different methods, meaning that the complete truth for inbound activity is almost impossible to gather. 

A lack of control can lead to missed shipments, manual rule checks, a complete lack of visibility and declining service levels. To ensure success from 3PL providers, manufacturers and supply chain leaders must implement the correct systems before rolling out solutions. Each system may work differently, but each will be crucial to the successful and efficient management of the network.

With no visibility into supply chain activity, tedious, manual processes will have to take place to ensure transportation is effectively managed. A cloud-based supply chain platform can allow every partner in a 3PL network to collaborate. Purchasing, booking and changing 3PL can be made easy with a cloud-based system in place.

A single global transportation platform empowers the network and puts all 3PL systems together in one place. From there, processes can be automated, unnecessary spending can be eliminated, and transport plans can be created, clearly and with ease, from a high-quality picture of the inbound supply chain.

Optimal product flow with minimal freight spend can also be a benefit, with easily adjusted high-cost transport plans also a possibility. Companies must transform into interconnected, highly agile business network orchestrators to have any hope of succeeding when managing inbound supply. The traditional silo-based, inward-facing corporate operations style of working simply will not work in the modern world.