Third-party logistics companies continue to expand their reach into shippers’ supply chains.

“Most 3PLs are continually looking for ways to create value for customers and build customer loyalty,” Evan Armstrong, president of Armstrong & Associates, told LM. “Much of it comes down to operational execution and performance.

Armstrong said digitalization and automation of operations can reduce errors, increase efficiency, and improve performance. “This is running across all of the 3PL segments,” Armstrong added.

He said in Domestic Transportation Management (DTM), 3PLs are building out digital freight matching platforms to more efficiently match loads to carriers in the spot market. There is also increasing use of visibility platforms tapping carrier tracking and tracing systems in multiple ways through APIs, ELD feeds, and GPS to automatically update 3PL transportation management systems (TMS) with shipment status information.

Back-office systems are supporting proof of delivery gathering and further automating carrier freight bill payment, Armstrong added. In warehousing and distribution, use of autonomous robots supporting warehouse workers in pick/pack operations and in inventory replenishment tasks is growing.

One recent example is RK Logistics Group, a Silicon Valley provider of warehousing, e-commerce fulfillment and supply chain management services. It recently expanded services for the U.S. operations of SOUNDBOKS, a Danish manufacturer of concert-quality, Bluetooth-enabled high-end portable speakers.

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