GOOD QUESTION | How would you define a 4PL?
Remember the little alien inside the Men in Black robot? That's a 4PL: It's the technology, tool, or service that helps power the activities of the 3PL. And with today's logistical complexity, 4PLs are needed more than ever.
A 4PL is the conductor of the orchestra. It oversees disparate pieces of the supply chain and brings them into harmony to achieve efficiency and, ultimately, applause from the shipper client.
Principal and Founder
Logistics Planning Services (LPS)
A 4PL manages logistics functions, such as a mix of a private and/or dedicated fleet, common carriers, other 3PLs, and providers. A 4PL is the control tower assuring optimal flows of goods/assets so the client can concentrate on its core business.
Industrial Services Group
4PL: a 3PL in spin mode. But seriously, a 3PL is an intermediary between a beneficial cargo owner (BCO) and an asset-based logistics provider. A 4PL sits between a BCO and a 3PL. In a global load control center, the 4PL manages 3PLs.
A consultative logistics company that performs a range of strategic and operational functions for a shipper without being directly responsible for provision of logistics services, including: selecting carriers, managing negotiations, contracts and operations, and implementing improvements throughout the supply chain.
Vice President, Customer Accounts
A 4PL is a logistics provider that also has broader supply chain management capabilities and offerings. These businesses take ownership of the complete logistics process, including functions like procurement and distribution, sometimes even managing 3PLs.
Director of Marketing, AFN
4PLs aggregate information originating from multiple 3PL providers to provide a single view for the shipper of their metrics, inventory, order status, shipment status, billing, and EDI across the network. They manage the multiple 3PLs centrally as an integrated operation.
Chief Operating Officer
My definition of a 4PL is an organization that is hired to manage logistics service providers, which could include a 3PL. 4PLs are considered a single interface source between the client and their logistics service providers.
Supervisor, Supply Chain Sourcing
Many companies today use 3PLs (or even multiple 3PLs) to outsource a single site or just one specific supply chain function to another company, who specializes in that specific role. In my opinion, a 4PL is a single company that manages all aspects of its client’s supply chain—all resources, capabilities, and technologies, end-to-end.
VP, Supply Chain Solutions
4PL is about outsourcing the management of your outsourced supply chain providers.