A logistics consultant can help your business improve its supply chain operation. This article provides you with examples of why you would use a logistics consultant, what areas of the supply chain can they help, and how a logistics consultant is different from a 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) company.
“Logistics must be simple—everyone thinks they’re an expert.”– unknown
First, Some Examples Of Why Use A Logistics Consultant.
The primary reason to use a logistics consultant is that you do not have the in-house resources to implement a pressing logistics-related project. Below are some examples of what may trigger you reaching out to a logistics consultant.
- New TMS. Need help selecting and implementing a new transportation management system (TMS) to include data integration with backend systems
- BI Reporting. Need help creating reports based on performance data to help make strategic decisions about operations
- Improve Operations Improvements. Need recommendations and justification to make improvements in inventory management and control procedures
- Improve Customer Experience. You are losing sales as evident by customer complaints of poor service and slow order fulfillment
- Acquired A New Business Unit. Acquired new company and facilities and need network analysis on how to integrate new facilities into existing network
- New Revenue Opportunities. Need expertise to develop new market opportunities
- Reduce Transportation Costs. Need help with reducing transport costs
- Improve Delivery Experience. eCommerce customers complaining about their parcel delivery experience
- New Warehouse Automation Needed. Need help in deciding what warehouse equipment is needed and how should it be integrated
- Independent Competitive Analysis. Need to know if your operational costs are too high compared to your competitors
- Optimize Supply Chain. Your warehouse is full and you need to know if it is better to relocate, make better use of space or reduce your inventory
7 Areas of the Supply Chain Where A Logistics Consultant Help.
Supply chains are elongated and massive. Hence, there are many areas of logistics where a logistics consultant can help a business improve its operations. See supply chain areas below:
1. Transport Strategy and Planning.
Logistics consultants can help with determining transportation modes (truckload, Less-Than-Truckload, air cargo, ocean container, parcel, courier, etc.). Additionally, they can help you with outsourcing options, reverse logistics, selecting a Transportation Management System (TMS), and integrating transportation with your warehouses.
2. Warehouse Design and Planning.
A consultant can help you with warehouse automation, distribution facility design, robotics, warehouse conveyor systems, materials handling equipment, warehouse management systems (WMS), and kitting.
3. Optimize Inventory.
This includes strategies to meet variable demands and avoid either having excess or missing stock.
4. Improve Procurement Processes.
This could include strategies to acquire components, raw materials, and goods. Additionally, this could include implementation of procurement systems and improved procurement practices.
5. Supply Chain Design, Planning and Optimization.
This is more of a strategic consulting role where the consultant looks at overall network design. Specifically, this can include optimization of transportation, warehousing, 3rd party logistics (3PL) options, order fulfillment, or suppliers. Also, this includes logistics audits, data analytics, process re-engineering, and support of implementing industry standards.
6. New Technology Implementation.
To stay competitive, business leaders need to continually evaluate and implement new supply chain technologies. Because of the wide range of technologies, many companies look for outside help. Even large companies, rely on outside technology consultants that specialize in logistics technology. In many cases, an independent technology consultant is needed to help identify what is hype and what is not as well as help select and justify a technology implementation.
7. Subject Matter Expert(SME) Logistics Support.
This is a case of a company needing logistics management support, executive recruitment support, or expert support for special projects like dispute resolution or expert witness.
How Are Logistics Consultants Different From a 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) Company?
What A 3rd Party Logistics Company Does.
A 3rd party logistics company can provide your business logistics consulting services, but that is not their main purpose. This is because with a 3PL you are actually outsourcing your logistics needs to that company. Indeed, these types of companies’ main purpose is to manage all or part of your supply chain and logistics. Specifically, this can include order fulfillment, warehousing, or shipping. Whereas, a logistics consulting engagement may in some cases lead to you outsourcing part of your logistics operations to a 3PL.
What A Logistics. Consultant Does.
Logistics consultants provide a wide range of professional services to help a business improve or transform their logistics operations. Additionally, most logistics consultants focus on a particular industry such as automotive or pharmaceuticals. Further, most logistics consultants focus on a particular aspect of the supply chain such as inbound logistics or warehousing.
Logistics consultants can come from either a very large consulting firm, a 3PL, or a one-man operation. In a lot of cases, consultants are former logistics executives. Further, most large and medium-size consulting companies will augment their consulting staff with MBAs from top schools. Normally, these logistics consultants will have degrees in operations management, supply chain, or finance.
For more information from Unvarnished Facts, see articles on supply chains.
Writer and Supply Chain Tech Expert. Passionate about giving actionable insights on information technology, business, innovation, creativity, and life in general.