3PL. 3P….What?

 

“We’re Bridge Logistics, a family owned 3PL based in Cincinnati.”

The sentence above is one we use a lot around here as a short way to describe our company. When we tell people though that we are a 3PL, sometimes we’re met with a lot of blank stares. After all, really only people in our industry know that 3PL stands for Third Party Logistics.

3PL = 3rd Party Logistics

 

But just stating what 3PL stands for doesn’t guarantee that whoever you’re talking to is going to know what that actually means. According to Dictionary.com, logistics is: “the management of materials flow through an organization, from raw materials through to finished goods”. That can mean a lot of different things. The supply chain is huge, and there’s a lot of moving parts to it.

3PLs make up a $166 billion industry. It’s a huge industry that most people never think about or understand.

As a third party logistics company, we are responsible for a piece of the overall supply chain: specifically moving products from one place to another. But still what exactly does that all entail?

Third party logistics companies are actually very similar to Uber. Think about it….Uber doesn’t physically own anything: they don’t own cars, and they don’t control the people moving around. They provide value simply by matching up available cars with people who need to be transported from one location to another.

That’s essentially what a 3PL does….just on a bigger scale. Instead of using a Toyota Corolla to transport three friends to a night out downtown, we happen to be using 53′ semi-trucks to transport 40,000 pounds of pies to be distributed to grocery stores. We don’t own any of our own trucks, and we aren’t manufacturers. We come in to help the manufacturers get their product and materials transported by finding available trucking companies to move the shipment.

3PLs work in a variety of industries. We may be arranging for the transportation of raw material steel to be later used in the manufacturing of cars at one moment, and then filled baby food jars to wind up on store shelves the next moment.

 

3PLs utilize varying modes of transportation too – whether that be cargo ship, airplane, rail, or truck. It’s our job to figure out the most cost effective and efficient way to get something from point A to point B for that manufacturer.

So at the end of the day, every single product that you use has probably wound up in your hands partly because a 3PL company arranged for its transportation – either during the raw material stage or the actual finished product.

We may play a small piece in the larger supply chain of getting raw materials converted into finished products, but 3PLs play a vital piece in getting all of those materials in the right place at the right time.


By Allison Walke, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding