Offsetting our Carbon Footprint

Expak Logistics’ commitment to service extends to our community as a whole, which is why we continue to work with our clients to expand our carbon offset program. 

Over the years, Expak has partnered with Dot Neutral. This organization matches businesses with carbon emission offset initiatives, including reforestation, renewable energy such as solar and wind energy, capturing harmful gases, and more. Expak invests in a series of projects that reduces or negates the amount of CO2 released into the environment each time a package is shipped.

Concurrent with our Mission Statement, Expak is determined to create overall value across all stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders, vendor partners, and our surrounding community. 

How it works

We evaluate the following criteria to reasonably estimate the CO2 emissions generated (in kg) for each delivery:

  • The approximate weight of a typical delivery
  • The mileage traveled via Expak vehicles 
  • The type of vehicles utilized to execute such deliveries 

In partnership with our clients, Expak will invest in an equivalent value of green energy initiative(s) to offset our CO2 footprint.

  • Location: Bethel Wind Farm in Castro County, TX
  • Fuel Resource: Wind
  • Project Description: 120 wind turbines manufactured by General Electric Renewable Energy
  • How it works: Each turbine is mounted on top of an 80-meter-tall tower and has a 116-meter, three-blade rotor connected to a generator. Multiple wind turbines are electrically connected in parallel to the main power transformer, where the energy is converted from 34.5kV to 115kV for interconnection.
  • Current Market Cost: $0.0016 per kg

 

Expak is committed to positively influencing our community by offsetting over a million pounds of carbon emissions. Learn how you can partner with Expak today to ensure your packages are delivered on time and that you’re boosting your social responsibility efforts along the way. 

3PL vs. 4PL: What is the difference?

The COVID-19 pandemic has forever altered shopping behaviors and how consumers’ online shopping habits. Reports show that more than half of consumers now shop online more frequently than they did before the pandemic, accelerating eCommerce a decade. 

For brands to succeed, they need to meet customers where they are; online. Suppose you’ve seen your brand scale online. In that case, you may be searching for a new outside partner to help with your supply chain, weighing the differences between a third-party logistics (3PL) provider and a fourth-party logistics (4PL) provider.

We’re here to help you learn about each of these logistics models. 

 

What is 3PL?

A third-party logistics model manages and supervises part or all of the supply chain, from distribution, warehousing, and fulfillment. A 3PL can handle everything, including:

  • Transportation
  • Warehousing
  • Picking and packing
  • Inventory forecasting
  • Order fulfillment
  • Packaging
  • Freight forwarding 

The advantages of using a 3PL provider allow you to focus on other critical aspects of your business like product development, sales, marketing, and overall growth. In contrast, the 3PL provider handles their transportation and logistics needs. What other benefits does choose a 3PL provider offer?

  • 3PL providers can leverage lower, more competitive shipping rates
  • The ability to scale services up and down as needed in a cost-effective manner
  • Offering better customer experiences, including expedited shipping, 
  • A chance to expand and reach broader markets
  • Lowered risk of shipping delays and other unforeseen circumstances
  • Cost savings in the warehouse through inventory management, forecasting, and more optimized inventory levels

 

What is 4PL?

How does fourth-party logistics vary from 3PL? A 4PL provider also referred to as a lead logistics provider or an LLP, takes all the same services offered by a 3PL provider and ramps up their offerings by managing resources, technology, infrastructure, and even handling external 3PLs to build fully-formed supply chain solutions. A 4PL provider is a single point of contact for logistics, warehouse management, consulting, and planning. 

Besides the services offered by a 3PL provider, 4PL services include:

  • Logistics strategy
  • Analytics of spending on transportation, analysis, capacity utilization, and carrier performance
  • Consulting and planning
  • Inventory planning
  • Weighing various logistics models
  • Coordinating a broader retail supplier base
  • Managing reverse logistics, returns, and refurbishment 

Essentially, a fourth-party logistics provider is an independent party that’s accountable for integrating and assembling resources, technology, and services within their organization and with external services and organizations from a single interface, all aspects of the supply chain. 

A 4PL provider helps by taking over the entire logistics process for your business and offers consultation to help you achieve strategic goals in tandem with their ongoing operational support services. They can help you avoid costly mistakes, develop a successful recurring revenue business strategy, and find ways to improve your business processes from end-to-end. 

 

The Key Differences Between 3PL and 4PL

When examining the significant differences between 3PL and 4PL providers, there’s no clear-cut definition of the differences between them. In general, a 4PL offers more services than a 3PL. What is one of the services you might expect from a 4PL? Reverse logistics. Many 3PLs don’t have the resources to handle reverse logistics. 

eCommerce businesses or subscription services where returns are necessary and consistent turn to 4PLs. Some—but not all—3PLs can handle reverse logistics. 

What are some of the overall differences?

Online retailers will choose 3PL for transportation, warehousing, and distribution. At the same time, they may select a 4PL to fully manage all supply chain operations, including carriers, warehouses, and reverse logistics, among other consulting services, for full end-to-end support.

 

Which One Should You Choose?

Which type of logistics provider is right for you—the third-party logistics provider or the fourth-party provider? It depends on what level of service you require.

Are you looking to pick and choose from a select menu of services? You can select different 3PLs to handle each step in your supply and logistics chain for warehousing, shipping and transportation, and distribution. This is also a strong choice for smaller companies who need support but aren’t ready to invest in more hands-on support from a 4PL provider.

If you are looking for more internal management and a single interface in dealing with multiple service providers across the entire supply chain, as well as ongoing support from a trusted advisor and a complete reverse logistics service, the most robust option for you is a 4PL. 

Do you need a logistics provider that understands your industry, such as healthcare or subscription boxes? What about a provider that can scale if your business experiences large seasonal swings? These are all critical questions to ask before you choose a 3PL or 4PL provider. 

Some 3PLs offer more than others and will provide more analytics support than others, managing things like your customer to understand better how you’re performing and pinpoint growth opportunities. It truly all depends on what you’re looking for.

 

How Expak Can Help

Not all supply chain solutions are the same. With modern, technology-first solutions, ongoing analytics, and individualized customer service at scale, Expak’s modern solutions offer all the services you need to provide exceptional customer care to retain customers for a long, long time. We’re small enough to care, yet large enough to scale with your business. We’ll continue making improvements in technology and customize to your needs, rather than asking you to bend to meet our systems. 

You need a smart solution that will free you up to focus on building the business you’ve always imagined. 

 

What is Pool Distribution?

Pool distribution is a form of shipping that allows companies to ship their products along with other orders in a single truck. This strategy is similar to less-than-truckload (LTL); however, you would be pooling multiple shipments of your products rather than sharing the load with other brands. 

For anyone looking to reduce costs and improve transit times, the pool distribution model is one of the most practical solutions.

 

What is Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping?

LTL is a shipping option that allows companies to pay only for the portion of the trailer they use rather than the entire truck. The remaining space will be filled with goods from other companies heading to the same area. 

 

Pool Distribution vs. Pool Consolidation?

Pool distribution allows you to “pool” your shipment together with other loads that are being delivered to multiple destinations within the same region.

Shipments that would usually be shipped through LTL shipping can be pooled together or consolidated onto a full trailer. Next, they are delivered to a distribution center offloaded, and sent to their final delivery.

You can utilize pool distribution at both ends of the shipping lane — the origin and destination. The beginning of the trip is called pool consolidation. Whereas pool distribution refers to the end portion, when the shipment is removed from the truck, scanned, and delivered to its final destination.

 

How Does Pool Distribution Work?

Usually, pool distribution involves consolidating multiple shipments from a single shipper at one point of origin — typically the shipper’s distribution center. The load as a whole will be going toward a specific geographic region, with multiple delivery points within that region for individual shipments.

Shipments are consolidated and loaded onto a truck to make maximum usage of the space. Next, it goes to a pool point facility (aka a regional terminal) or distribution center, instead of directly to the final destination. The pool shipment will then be offloaded, scanned, and organized by where the freight is headed. Your shipments are then reloaded onto smaller, local delivery trucks or vans for their final mile delivery.

In some cases, a company may not have enough product to make pool distribution a good option. Instead, the pool might share a truckload cost with another pool from a different company. When this occurs, the truck will stop at both distribution points to load in the shipment and then go to a single final delivery point, meaning the two pools are being shipped to the same retailer.

Pool distribution can often offer significant cost savings to traditional LTL shipping. Benefits include significantly reduced shipping times, less handling of your products, keeping them safer, and visibility to track your shipment throughout the entire journey.

A pool distribution strategy is more common on a smaller scale; however, larger companies can benefit from this shipping method. The right partners will have a set of network points and distribution centers to unload trucks and sort items for distribution. 

Using an experienced partner for pool distribution is valuable because they will already have the systems and right personnel in place, particularly for shipments that require special vehicles such as smaller vans or trailers with lift gates. An experienced partner will also have  the right floor personnel needed to receive deliveries with the necessary know-how to use any specialized equipment.

 

When To Use Pool Distribution?

You may have already used pool distribution in some form. For example, if a retailer asked you to consolidate your orders onto pallets and ship them via LTL instead of parcel delivery. 

Companies with a high frequency of consistent, LTL-size shipments are best suited to use a pool distribution strategy. It is dependent on the size and the circumstances of your orders. 

While smaller companies may be better suited for pool distribution, you still need a certain level of volume for it to bring value to your business. To benefit from the value that pool distribution brings, companies need to have enough sales volume and shipments to a specific geographic region. If a company doesn’t have enough product to fill a truck, it is most likely better suited for LTL shipping than pooling. Working with an experienced third-party logistics provider is crucial because they can provide an established carrier network to help identify the best strategy to bring value to your supply chain. Particularly for companies lacking the infrastructure or the systems to coordinate pooling.  

 

What is Pool Consolidation?

Pool consolidation is part of the pool distribution process at the shipping lane’s beginning. With consolidation, multiple vendor shipments are consolidated onto a single truckload to a distribution center. The lane’s pool distribution portion occurs as the shipments are separated and sent to their final destination.

Other times, pool consolidation is not paired with pool distribution. In these cases, the vendors that share the truckload are all going to the same retailer or other location, creating no need for distribution at the end.

Companies typically use third-party logistics providers to handle their shipping as there is a lot of coordination that goes into pool consolidation. The planning process considers many factors, including delivery dates, shipping schedules, and truck availability.   

Pooling saves time at both the beginning and the end of a shipment’s journey. You can load your entire shipment into a single truck rather than in pieces, and on the other end, it only needs to be unloaded once. This means fewer receiving doors are required, and fewer workers are required to unload the shipment. 

Pool Consolidation

The Benefits Of Pool Distribution

  1. Reduced Shipping Costs: Pool distribution is typically more efficient than other shipping options as it removes the need for multiple legs on the journey. With shipping, the most costly miles for a truck are the first and last few miles. 
  2. Straightforward: Usually, pool distribution cost is based on just weight and miles, meaning it does not require complex formulas and more straightforward to calculate the costs.
  3. Supply Chain Visibility: Pool distribution makes it easy to track your shipment as it will be making fewer stops. 
  4. Speed: Pool distribution is typically faster as your shipment will be making fewer stops. 
  5. Lower Carbon Footprint: By placing fewer trucks on the road, you are doing your part to reduce your companies’ carbon footprint. 

 

Why Pool Distribution Might Not Be Right For Your Business

  1. Requires Change: Some companies may not be willing to change processes, schedules, or volumes to make pool distribution work. 
  2. Filling the trucks: You want to make sure you can fill the trucks with your pooled shipment consistently. Otherwise, pool distribution will have minimal value as part of your supply chain. 
  3. Right Partner: You want to ensure your 3PL/ 4PL partner has an established network in the regions you wish to send your pool shipments. 
  4. Product Pooling: Ensure the products you pool together make sense to be on the same truck. Depending on your products, some items may require special handling or shouldn’t be pooled together pending your products’ nature. 

 

Implementing pool distribution will require a lot of initial work on your end, but once you have systems in place with the right shipping partner, it will be worthwhile for your company. 

 

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