In recent years, logistics has become increasingly important due to the rise of e-commerce. As a result, the role of the logistics operator is becoming increasingly important for companies, which are looking for increasingly qualified logistics operators. In this article, therefore, we are going to explain what is the role of logistics operators in the management of business logistics and what are the tasks of logistics operators.
Logistics operator: who are they and what do they do
Before proceeding in the explanation of anything else, let’s see who is the logistics operator. Logistics operators are companies that lend their work to manage the logistics processes of third-party companies that decide to outsource their logistics. Consequently, depending on the degree of outsourcing, the logistics operator takes care of all the phases related to logistics processes: from transport, to warehouse management, up to order management.
Types of Logistics Operators
Not all logistics operators are the same, nor do all companies need the same logistics operator. Depending on the needs of outsourcing logistics services, in fact, it is possible to classify different types of logistics operators. The classes, called PL by Party Logistic, are five in all:
- 1PL or First Party Logistic: this is the most basic level of outsourcing, involving only the distribution of the company’s products; this type of logistics operator, for example, is the individual transporter;
- 2PL or Second Party Logistic: the second level of outsourcing still involves the distribution of products, but, in this case, the logistics operator deals with an entire phase of the logistics process; logistics operators of this type are transport companies;
- 3PL or Third Party Logistics: the third level of outsourcing of logistics is the one that involves the complete management, or at least for the greater share, by the logistics operator; the latter, also making use of subcontracts to 1PL, 2PL or other 3PLs, deals with reception, warehousing, preparation of shipments, packaging, transport and delivery;
- 4PL or Fourth Party Logistics: this is a high level of outsourcing of logistics similar to 3PL, but more advanced; the logistics operator is not only responsible for management, but also for restructuring the logistics department in order to make it more efficient;
- 5PL or Fifth Party Logistic: this is the latest evolution of logistics outsourcing, which essentially concerns services related to e-commerce.
The skills of the logistics operator: what are the most important for logistics operators
Logistics, as mentioned, has taken on an absolutely relevant role in the context of business management. Therefore, the demand for highly skilled logistics operators has become essential for any company. The tasks required of a logistics operator, after all, are innumerable and, for this reason, in order to work in this sector it is necessary to ensure various skills, whether to cover the figure of a simple logistics operator or to play the role of Director of Logistics.
The first, and perhaps most important, skill any logistics worker must be equipped with is undoubtedly the ability to plan. In other words, it is necessary to know how to foresee, on the basis of the company’s history and the period of the year, what the workloads will be, elaborating ad hoc management strategies. This means, therefore, developing the processes that allow the business processes to be sustained, minimizing the costs of logistics management and maximizing the effective organization of the process.
Another fundamental aptitude of logistics operators, and their employees, is to have a warehouse management that adapts to all the requirements of the case. In other words, the logistics operator must be able to optimize the flow of goods, arranging them within the infrastructure in the most efficient way possible. This often requires warehouse management software, which allows each product to be identified as quickly and easily as possible.
What logistics operators do
The last aspect is the tasks performed by logistics operators. There are countless steps involved in the logistics sector. These range from the registration of goods, whether finished products or raw materials, to their dispatch and storage in the warehouse. A logistics operator, therefore, must be able to verify the correct handling of goods, both from the point of view of product integrity and the regularity of accompanying documentation. In particular, he records each movement of goods and prepares accompanying bills of lading for outgoing goods. Logistics operators, finally, must be able to carry out another fundamental task: the inventory of the warehouse, which must always be updated, in order to know the stocks and the eventual supplies.