How 3PL Warehousing Differs from General Storage Warehouses

Third party logistics (3PL) are companies that handle the packaging, storage and transport of goods on behalf of another company. The annual investment in 3PL warehousing keeps growing every year since more businesses are seeing the advantages of this kind of warehousing.

packaging 3pl warehousing

There are major differences between these advanced 3PL warehousing services and general storage warehouses; and these should inform your decision on whether or not such companies will be necessary for your specific business needs.

Packaging & Transport of Products

First of all, 3PL warehousing involves more than just storage of goods. These companies get involved in the packaging of your products and also transportation. Depending on the specific company you choose, all these will be done in a timely manner. A good tip here is not just to consider the pricing of a company’s service as some are priced cheaply for very good reasons.

Basically, with a 3PL warehousing service like that of United Facilities, you are saved the headaches involved after making a sale and can simply focus your energy on what you do best as a businessman: making sales.

Individualized Warehouse Storage Space

3PL warehousing also saves you the pain of losing money during low sales periods. When inventory drops, such warehousing companies will allow you to pay only for the amount of space you need every month. In essence, if you need less space the next month, your payment rates can be adjusted accordingly.

This is typically not the case with general storage warehouses. General storage warehouses typically require a business to invest for a longer term lease and whether you need the space the following month or not, you still have to pay for it.

Labor Support

A company that is growing may experience difficulties in employing staff to oversee the storage requirements of their products. Moreover, small business owners may not even be sure how long a good sales period will last and having people permanently employed could be a big risk.

If you intend to go the route of using a general storage warehouse space, you should be ready to deal with these issues. A 3PL warehousing company saves you this headache as they take the risk upon themselves. What happens in this case is that you trade time for money and in the long run, you actually end up saving more money.

3pl warehousing

Food-Grade & Cold Storage Warehousing

Additionally, 3PL warehousing and fulfillment companies could also offer temperature controlled storage services for those looking to transport perishable foods and drinks. The quality and popularity of food grade storage has been rising over time. If you intend to package, store and transport food products, it is necessary to enquire whether a specific company offers such services.

Since third party logistics companies usually have access to better machinery than a regular business, the quality and expertise involved is usually exceptional. Most of these companies also offer custom packaging services which could be more expensive to obtain if you opt for general storage warehouse space.

Customized packaging can be an important tool in boosting business sales and attracting new customers and top 3PL companies understand this fact well enough. Typically, they will also offer advice on how you should handle your customized packaging.

Why The Increased Demand for Shipping Container Scales?

The World Shipping Council has urged all countries involved in the transportation of maritime containers to be prepared to comply with the new Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulatory requirements which are set to begin by July 1 2016. Once these new regulations are adopted, the International Maritime Organization’s Committee and the SOLAS program will require all shippers to weigh and verify shipping container weights before transport.shipping containers solas

For many years, shippers across the globe have mostly relied on calculations of their shipments from statistical databases instead of directly weighing their goods. Relying on statistical data weight estimation alone lead to mis-declaration and also resulted in many serious accidents. Under these amendments by the World Shipping Council and SOLAS will require that all shipping container weights to be properly verified before being packed and loaded onto a vessel. As a result, it will be a great violation to pack a container without properly verifying its shipping weight wherever SOLAS shipping container weight verification requirements apply.

Shippers Race to Seek Weighing Solutions

Under these new regulations, there are only two acceptable methods of measuring container weight. The first method involves directly weighing the fully packed shipping container at an approved weighing marine station while the second method involves weighing the cargo separately and then adding the container’s tare weight in the calculations. Regardless of the systems or scales for shipping container weight that are used, the shipper will ultimately bear the responsibility of weight verification once these amendments are approved.

As a rule, the shipper will be required to communicate the verified weight of the shipping container in advance so as to allow the ship master as well as the terminal representatives to prepare for the ship stowage plan in advance. The container should also not be loaded onto the loading vessel if the shipper fails to provide verified packed container weight prior to shipping.

Besides that, the weighing equipments are also required to meet the set international calibration and certification standards. Shipping documents have to be signed by an authorized shipper and then submitted to ships master or their representative.

However, in case such signing of documents is not done, it can be alleviated by directly weighing the fully packed container at the port. Some marine terminal may not have standard weighing equipments, for this reason shippers are required to invest in proper weighing equipment so as to verify their shipping container weight. This in turn will result in increased demand for shipping container scales and related truck scales equipments needed to handle such tasks.

Repercussions for Shippers in Violation

The above regulations are aimed at promoting safety as well as reducing operational costs. Although this may sound simple, there are several practical considerations which have to be made. The first consideration will be to identify exactly who is a shipper. There are numerous parties involved in the overall supply chain making it difficult to identify the shipper of a container that does not comply with the set regulations.

Since shippers may not have direct access to marine terminals as logistic companies and other terminal operators have, these new regulations will therefore mean that shippers will have to invest in the new weighing technology that comes at high cost. Shippers will have no alternative when buying shipping container scales and weighing systems but to bear these costs or to shift them to their customers. These new weighing policies will result in increased demand for shipping container scales such as truck scales and container weighing systems.

Rail-based Logistics: Thriving or Dying?

One of the oldest forms of transportation and logistics is the railway. The development of the steam locomotive engine by the British back in the 18th and 19th centuries was a key piece of the industrial revolution. Fast forward to 2015, and rail continues to be one of the widest uses for transportation and logistics in our modern supply chain.

rail car logisticsSo why has rail logistics continued to advance and maintain its dominance? Commodities that are heavy and needed in large volumes need to be effectively moved from the source location, to that of the customers in order to make it cost effective inputs for the purchaser, and profitable outputs for the manufacturer.

In the North American production of oil in remote regions like North and South Dakota, Texas, and Northern Alberta, transporting the significant amounts of oil being pulled out of the ground can be a challenge. The amount of trucks needed on the road to move the products safely would be so significant, and the volume that each truck could transport, that trucks pinch the ability to move the product through the supply chain quickly.

Pipelines have become increasingly popular in heated debates about safety, cost, and environmental concerns. Trains have long acted as an alternative to pipelines as a relatively safe, and effective way to transport these goods above ground. Existing infrastructure remains across most of the world, and especially through North America’s industrial hubs and into ports from Fort Lauderdale in the Southeast to Vancouver in the Northwest.

Advancements in Rail Systems & Technology

Rail cars have had advancements in the safety of cars to hold dangerous goods from crude oil to other chemicals, allowing safe transport across the country. Unlike treacherous road conditions that trucks can experience driving across the country, trains are able to easily and safely navigate through mountainous snow regions, without the risk of losing their loads.

Rail continues to be a huge piece of the coal and mining industry as well. In 2010, Wyoming was home to the 10 largest coalmines in the United States, including the countries largest producer at the Black Thunder surface mine owned by Arch Coal. This mine alone produced over 115 Million short tons of coal in 2010, an increase from 86 Million in 2007. This coal all needs to get moved somehow, and it can’t be pushed through a pipeline, and would be far too expensive to move by trucks. Trains allow for the goods to be easily moved into port regions like Vancouver, where the coal gets loaded onto ships, and transported to major international manufacturing hubs like China.

4 of the worlds 5 largest coal consumers are overseas: China, Japan, India and Russia. Getting this product out of the ground in the United States and Canada, and transported to the coastal shipping vessels wouldn’t be possible without the continued use and growth in rail logistics and distribution.

A Thriving System for Logistics & Distribution

Rail is versatile, requires very little manpower relative to the amount of weight being hauled, and can easily connect from big cities and manufacturing towns alike. Look no further than the boom in the equity value of railway companies like Canadian Pacific Railway, which has seen a 400% increase in it’s company value since 2005, largely thanks to the boom in Canada’s exports of forestry, oil, potash and even agriculture products like wheat.

The advancements in rail logistics include better traction, braking abilities, power, and assistance in managing the weighing of these massive cars has allowed for incredible efficiency. Companies that have a high degree of specialization, such as the rail scale system offered by Walz Scale have prompted a momentous shift in these systems as a whole.

As a result, these mechanisms have become on of the most effective forms of transportation for anyone looking for effective supply chain solutions and logistic management services. Rail has been the beneficiary of advances in technology from it’s origins in Steam to coal to diesel, and it shows no signs of embracing more changes and continuing it’s dominance as one of the most effective forms of logistics.