If you’re a customer or shipper in the logistics industry, you probably have experience working with a third-party logistics carrier (3PL). A 3PL is essentially the middle man between a customer and a carrier company who oversees the customer’s shipment. The 3PL is responsible for managing all transportation details of the customer’s shipment so that the customer can focus their time and energy elsewhere. But how does a 3PL work for customers and shippers? What happens behind the scenes once a customer tenders its load to a 3PL?
A customer calls or emails a freight broker a load tender with information regarding their shipment. This includes special instructions, commodity information such as weight and temperature, and any specific standards or shipping preferences. The broker can now post and advertise the load for carriers to see. Interested carriers will call the broker for more details regarding the load and the rate. It’s important to note that this time-consuming carrier search and vetting process is hands-off for the customer/shipper. This is one of the primary advantages in utilizing a 3PL. A 3PL removes a customer’s stress of having to search for a qualified carrier itself – which can be a complicated and often frustrating process!
After the broker finds the most qualified carrier for the job, they send the chosen carrier a rate confirmation. The broker will dispatch the truck for pick-up, and once the truck is loaded and over-the-road, multiple check-calls happen between the driver and the broker throughout the transport. A good broker will proactively reach out to the carrier for updates and will then relay this information back to the customer in a timely manner. This stage of the process is where the value of a 3PL truly comes into play for the customer! When the carrier arrives at the destination, the truck is unloaded and the customer is notified their shipment has been delivered successfully.
Ultimately, the purpose of a 3PL is to lift a load off the customer’s shoulders, both literally and figuratively!