For businesses utilizing third-party logistics providers for chemical storage, real-time visibility is an increasingly hot topic. The same holds true for most other verticals. It doesn’t matter if products are classified as general merchandise, food or food ingredients/additives or hazardous materials. Any limitations, restrictions or gaps in supply chain or distribution channel visibility can put your company at a competitive disadvantage.
With the increasingly widespread adoption of lean management and just-in-time (JIT) inventory control, companies need real-time access to the status of your inbounds, shipments and inventory. It’s especially critical if you are operating with little or no warehoused inventory as called for in JIT optimized operations. In manufacturing, a shipment of components or raw materials not arriving on the date and time called for in the production schedule can trigger an entire production line to shut down and jeopardize ship dates of the finished product to your customers. Similarly, in the retail environment, stores today increasingly keep all their entire stock on the sales floor. This keeps their inventory carry to a minimum, but puts them at risk if any inbound deliveries are delayed. Out-of-stock conditions mean lost revenue and unhappy customers.
In chemical storage, as with all other types of third-party logistics, a company chooses to outsource warehousing, distribution and/or transportation management in order to focus on the firm’s core competencies while leveraging the core competencies of the 3PL partner. IT capabilities and automation should be considered a part of a 3PL provider’s core competencies. It’s not enough that a 3PL can run an efficient warehouse distribution center and has a good or even great warehouse management system (WMS) and transportation management system (TMS). The 3PL needs to be able to fully integrate with the companies systems and with the systems of the supply chain and/or distribution channel partners. The lowest cost chemical storage 3PL may not actually offer value if they cannot implement an EDI solution that allows a seamless flow of data back and forth through the supply chain. If they lack the capability to provide a web portal, relying on phone calls and emails to their customer service department to get the information needed (information that may not even be current by the time it reaches you) efficient? If a firm selects the right 3PL provider, they can have real-time visibility to inbounds, shipments, inventory, as well as track parcel shipments, view customizable KPI dashboards and generate reports. With a web portal, data can be accessed in real-time, any time day or night from anywhere there is internet access.
When selecting a third-party logistics provider for chemical storage or other services, analysis needs to expand beyond basis warehousing, distribution and transportation management functions and go deeper to include the technology that drives their operations and how it can be integrated with a company’s systems in ways that provide real-time visibility needed to access data for increased efficiency, cost effectiveness and agility to react quickly when changes occur and issues arise.
FW Warehousing is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with Midwest warehouse distribution centers in Kansas City, Indianapolis and St. Louis totaling more than four million square feet. Founded in 1949 with a focus on food-grade storage, FW later broadened its services to include contract warehousing, dry storage, hazardous material and chemical storage, temperature-controlled storage, product distribution and B2B and B2C fulfillment.
FW Warehousing has more than 50 years of experience in third-party 3PL logistics and has been ranked in the top 100 Third Party Logistic Companies in the country by Inbound Logistics magazine.
For more information about FW Warehousing, chemical storage and other 3PL capabilities, visit the FW Warehousing website.