Today’s commercial freight moves multi-modal and the warehouse-based 3PL is the point at which modal interchange happens. Freight entering or leaving our ports is trans-loaded (meaning, the goods move from one mode of transportation to another) at warehouse-based 3PLs – whether from truck to ocean container; from railcar to truck (or vice versa). This is one reason IWLA members’ facilities are located near every major airport, seaport, harbor, rail yard and interstate interchange, and why adequate access to these locations is imperative.
From its unique position in the supply chain, the warehouse-based 3PL can see and is directly affected by bottle necks and choke points within our commercial freight network. As companies strive to develop lean supply chains, it has resulted in the need for goods to move rapidly through the supply chain while maintaining accuracy and safety. This emphasis on velocity is evidenced by increased inventory turns which means, many activities in the warehouse must be tightly choreographed. Goods must be unloaded when scheduled, move through the value-add process and be prepared for shipment - sometimes within a matter of hours. Delays at any point cause a ripple effect that result in increased costs and late shipments. When containers in Long Beach are delayed leaving the port, a truck is delayed in traffic through Chicago or takes three hours to cross the Ohio River via the Brent Spencer Bridge Corridor, an air cargo flight is delayed due to air traffic congestion or a train is anulled, this inefficiency manifests itself at the warehouse where increased costs are incurred to keep the supply chain moving in a coordinated fashion.