Simply put, the 3PL definition is: a third party logistics firm that provides service to its customers of outsourced logistics services for either part, or all of their supply chain management function, and typically specialize in integrated operation, warehousing, and transportation services. Essentially, 3PL systems handle any or all outsourcing that needs to be done.
Similarly, 4PL is defined as an integrator that assembles the resources, capabilities, and technology of its own and other organizations to design supply chain solutions. The two sound pretty similar to 3PL services, right?
So what are the 3PL 4PL differences?
The main 3Pl 4PL difference lies in the level of integration. You see, while 3PL services are essentially logistical, 4PL services handle the supply chain management. There are also 1PL, and 2PL, and the more party-logistics added, the more integrated the system. This means that there’s a huge 3PL 4PL overlap.
While this is great and all, many in the healthcare industry wonder how this either affects them, or could help them.
When these logistics services are applied to the healthcare system, efficiency of the supply chain process is increased, as well as accountability, and visibility in terms of supply chain production and delivery. This is done by providing inbound and outbound transportation management, fleet management, warehousing, materials handling, order fulfillment, logistics network design, and inventory management.
This is all incredibly important, as after staffing costs, medical supplies are the single most expensive component of the healthcare industry. Essentially, 3PL 4PL can make the healthcare industry more cost efficient.
By assuring that a high quality product is delivered to the client in a timely manner, 3PL 4PL logistics services benefit both the product company and the healthcare patients. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.