Daily Archives: May 12, 2010

What Can the Right 3PL Do For You?

A recent article in World Trade Magazine on delivering supply chain excellence listed seven services beyond simple logistics that your 3PL might be able to do for you. They’re worth looking into, especially if you don’t have the resources or expertise to efficiently manage certain aspects of your supply chain in house.

  • Network Optimization

    If your 3PL is efficient, it has optimized its own network. If it’s forward thinking, it will maintain an industry leading supply chain network optimization solution in-house that it can use to help its clients optimize its distribution network. If you haven’t done a network optimization, chances are your current DC locations are not optimal from a service or cost-of-service perspective.

  • Demand Supply Planning

    The 3PL can use its distribution data and optimization platform to understand how much inventory a client is carrying across their network and how much the client should be carrying at each location within their network to meet demand at the target service level.

  • Centralized Booking

    If you have disparities in your booking and PO management processes, the 3PL might be able to offer you a centralized solution by becoming the central booking party of the transaction.

  • Value-Added Services

    A 3PL, well versed in best practice methodologies, might be able to discover hidden opportunities in your supply chain if you give them the chance. For instance, they might be able to reconfigure your warehouse operations to increase the efficiency of packing operations.

  • Price Management

    3PLs monitor market pricing very closely and know when there are capacity surpluses or opportunities for savings.

  • Designer Negotiations

    Some 3PLs maintain relationships with e-Negotiation providers that can handle full rate and capacity information in the RFX and/or auction, which might be backed with decision optimization. They can license these platforms to you for use in logistics negotiations if you don’t have an in-house platform.

  • White Globe Service

    Some 3PLs offer dedicated services for manufacturers and retailers of large, bulky, hard-to-handle products which will include delivery and installation. Examples include appliances and fitness equipment.

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Integration Point Takes Trade Compliance to a New Level

The last time we reviewed Integration Point, one of the twenty-one stops on the 2008 Sourcing Maniacs Vendor Tour, we discussed their global trade solutions and told you they provided another way to get your trade data in order. In that post, we told you about their extensible modularized web-based platform that has effectively solved the core customs, security, and classification challenge as well as the free trade / secure trade zone challenge with solutions that address import and export classification (HTS codes), import documentation requirements, export documentation requirements, C-TPAT, AEO, denied party screening, FTA qualification, duty deferral, customs warehousing, customs control processing, and advance security filing – they have most of what your average multinational based in the US or the EU needs. With regards to three main challenges of global trade — customs, security and classification; free trade / secure trade zones and agreements; and regulatory compliance — they had two nailed.

Since that post, and the Maniacs’ post that followed, they have tackled, and introduced a rather comprehensive, and flexible, solution for compliance and risk management that provides a secure communication channel between you and your supply chain to gather any information you require and apply a risk-based assessment to it. And while the feature set is not yet as rich or as deep as the vendors who tackle compliance and risk as their primary focii — like Aravo, CVM Solutions, Hiperos, Rollstream, SupplierSoft, and others — it is more than sufficient for the majority of global trade organizations that do not yet have an appropriate solution at their disposal.

Like many tools on the market, the solution is survey-based, and allows the user to construct their own surveys for C-TPAT, AEO, SSER, PIP, EMCP, Product Safety, Export End Use, Internal Compliance, Training, or any other compliance initiative, regulatory or otherwise, that they want to track. Each question can be yes/no, multiple choice, check-box list, or list, and lists can have attachments. Each question can be categorized, departmentalized, regionalized, assigned to an industry, given an importance, assigned to a port, assigned a vulnerability, as well as given a type. The questions can be combined into sections, which in turn can be combined into surveys, which can be sent to suppliers, who can then assign each section, or each individual question, to an authorized representative with access to the appropriate information. They can be set up as recurring (as some initiatives, such as C-TPAT have to be re-affirmed yearly), and previous answers can be provided, or hidden to insure a supplier doesn’t just “check the box” without reading the question. In addition, the questions can be formulated in German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, or five flavours of Chinese as well as English to support your global supply base. And the system can be configured to send automated reminders to suppliers if they don’t answer in a timely manner, and buyers to let them know that a supplier may need to be contacted.

The solution is integrated with Integration Point’s Supplier Master which allows you to maintain a complete profile for each partner in your supply chain. Each partner, which can be assigned multiple types (such as distributor, freight forwarder, manufacturer, trucking carrier, etc.) can be associated with the compliance programs relevant to it. As a result, your survey can be distributed to all appropriate partners with a single click as well as to predefined partner lists. E-mail, and templating capability, is integrated, and a buyer can choose, and customize, the e-mails to send on survey launch, on reminder, and on completion.

The reporting, which consists of six types of built in reports, is basic, but gets the job done. It allows you to query the status of each survey, against each supplier, to determine which suppliers responded to questions in a manner that implied risk, which questions elicited the most responses of a risky nature, and the overall risk score (determined via user-defined weightings) by survey by supplier, by supplier, and by survey. And if you don’t like the built in reports, you can roll your own with their open query feature that will allow you (or a member of their services team) to define any report you want by way of custom select statements.

Finally, the configurable entry screen allows you to customize the dashboard to insure that you see the relevant data that you need to address, and not data that will lull you into a false sense of security. You can configure it to display the partners with highest risk, the partners who have not answered the most recent survey(s), the risk rating of the most recent surveys, etc. in addition to recent answer activity, sending activity, and a generic statistics summary.

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