How 3PLs Support Manufacturers in Supply Chain Logistics

March 28, 2024 | Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Third-Party Logistics (3PL)

Manufacturing companies today must rely on increasingly complex supply chain logistics in a landscape that is frequently shifting. And the stakes are high. For manufacturers, lost time in the supply chain will always prove costly, potentially undermining all the good work they did to make and market their products.

Fortunately, the best 3PL providers can ensure near-seamless management of the supply chain for manufacturers. They have the processes and resources in place to prevent shortages, avoid delays and limit errors, while streamlining the supply chain to a refined, exquisite efficiency. Distribution Technology, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based 3PL, serves manufacturers representing a variety of industries, ranging from food products to polymers – among many others.

Here are some of the key ways that experienced 3PL partners such as Distribution Technology can bolster manufacturing operators’ supply chains.

Reliable Supply of Raw Materials

Manufacturing plants depend on a reliable supply of raw materials to keep up with the demands of production. A break in production because materials are not available can lead to thousands of dollars in losses. If the raw materials are not at the plant on time – and in the right amounts – then products will not be made promptly, and customers will not receive them on schedule.

Meticulous supervision of material arrivals becomes particularly crucial when a manufacturer employs a just-in-time model, which requires materials to be delivered to the plant precisely when needed, rather than being stored on-site for extended periods.

A proficient 3PL like Distribution Technology can effectively manage the raw materials supply chain, ensuring that availability is a seamless aspect for manufacturers and material providers. As a result, materials will consistently arrive at the plants with utmost reliability and punctuality.

A 3PL can oversee the drayage of raw materials, the storage of the materials when necessary, and the scheduled distribution to the manufacturing plants.

By outsourcing their raw materials supply chain support to a 3PL provider like Distribution Technology, manufacturers and material suppliers can gain the confidence and peace of mind that their materials will be consistently delivered to the right location, at the right time.

Managing the Storage and Distribution of Manufactured Products

Manufacturers enlist 3PL partners to help once those materials have been transformed into finished products, too. It is inefficient for a manufacturing plant to store finished products, but working with a 3PL partner those products can be shipped either directly to customers or to a 3PL warehouse where they are stored, processed, and shipped to their final destinations.

The right 3PL will ensure products are stored in the best possible conditions in their warehouse space, processed promptly and accurately when ordered by their well-trained workers (with the help of the newest tech-based tools), and distributed in a cost-efficient and effective way, whether that is by ship, truck, rail, or plane (or by a combination of those modes).

A 3PL can also help with kitting, assembly, labeling and packaging at its warehouse to ensure that products arrive at customers looking great with the appropriate branding. In addition, a 3PL can handle reverse logistics, managing the returns process for their manufacturer clients so that they do not have to.

An Intelligent Partner

The best 3PLs serve as crucial strategic partners to manufacturers, providing them with insights and intelligence that strengthens their business and equips their supply chain to drive growth rather than merely support it. 3PLs know their clients’ business inside and out, becoming an extension of their company so that they can anticipate their needs and collaborate to navigate the inevitable challenges that arise in the supply chain landscape.

Through technology-based tools, such as warehouse management systems and transportation management systems, a 3PL can help manufacturers better understand their business and their customers. This will strengthen their decision-making and agility in key areas, such as inventory management and planning.

Manufacturers that use an experienced 3PL also will have the advantage of the supply chain logistics specialist’s expertise and qualifications in regulatory compliance, touching on requirements as diverse as food grade certifications and protocol. Instead of investing in supply chain expertise internally, a company can work with a 3PL that has spent years acquiring that expertise so that it can share it with its clients.

Distribution Technology’s customer-friendly, supportive, and professional warehousing team can improve the efficiency and profitability of your nationwide and international supply chain logistics — from coast-to-coast and port-to-warehouse. For more information, visit