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How to Examine a 3PL's Warehousing Functions

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Third-party logistics (3PL) companies provide companies with transport, distribution and warehousing services to ensure the organisation can pay close attention to the production process. Below are some tips that can help you evaluate the warehousing services provided by your 3PL company.

Size of the Warehouse

Typically, you will require a large warehouse if your business processes thousands of orders every month. If your business deals with oversized products such as generators and turbines, the warehouse should have a high roof to ensure trucks have an easy time loading and unloading your products. 

Warehouse Services

Subassembly is a quality control process that ensures customers do not receive damaged products. Warehouse staff will disassemble, inspect and repackage your products before shipping them to clients. Some 3PLs provide distribution centres to receive, process, sort and ship your orders. They could also offer trans-loading and cross-docking services.

Warehouse Inspection

If possible, visit the company warehouses to evaluate the following. 

  • How clean are the warehouses? It a vital concern if you will store food products in the warehouse. Dirty warehouses could have rodents that could damage your products.
  • The warehouses must be accessible. For instance, haulage trucks could have trouble accessing the warehouse if it has narrow roads.
  • Inquire what other products will be stored at the warehouse. For example, if you deal with food products, you may not be comfortable using a warehouse that stores chemical and biological products.
  • The warehouse should have adequate security. 

Warehouse Practices

The warehouse should be operated by experienced personnel. Inexperienced and untrained staff members could damage your goods or mix up customer orders. Check the warehouse operating hours. Warehouses that are open 24/7 will prevent products from piling up at the manufacturing site as you await the warehouse to open. Besides, customers can pick products at any time. The warehouse should also insure your products against malicious damage, theft and hazards such as fire and storms. 

Warehousing Software

Modern warehouses have warehouse management systems and enterprise resource planning software to automate warehouse functions such as customer relationships and inventory processing. The software will provide real-time information regarding the inventory at the warehouse and the location of each item. It will also generate regular reports to help you understand your business cycles. 

If the 3PL does not own the warehouse, evaluate the company's lease contract with the warehouse management. The 3PL should have a reasonable plan of action if the warehouse management decides to cancel the contract. For example, the 3PL could transport your products to another warehouse within the area. 

To learn more, contact local 3PL logistics warehousing companies.