‘Fifth-party logistics provider’ (5PL) is a relatively new term, and refers to a company that acts as an integrator -- overseeing and coordinating the activities of multiple 3PLs, to optimise client supply chains.
The 5PL model gained traction during the pandemic, as ecommerce businesses new to international shipping found themselves under increasing pressure. Many were faced with attempting to handle cross-border complexities, such as customs rules and regulations, while also having to focus on the business of selling.
The concept of 5PLs is still in its infancy, but the roles they play typically include:
- Providing a single point of contact for managing multiple 3PLs
- Coordinating logistics activities across multiple regions or countries
- Developing and implementing supply chain strategies
- Providing supply chain analytics and business intelligence
- Managing supplier relationships and procurement activities
- Ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards
Ultimately, a 5PL’s job is to provide a high level of supply chain visibility and control, while minimising the complexity and cost of managing multiple 3PLs. The following are currently at the forefront of the emerging 5Pl market.
President: Bill Seward
UPS Supply Chain Solutions is a division of UPS, the global logistics and transportation firm, and has operations in 120 countries and a workforce of 400,000 employees.
It provides end-to-end supply chain solutions, including 5PL services. Their 5PL solution, UPS Control Tower, provides real-time visibility and control over the entire supply chain. Its new visibility platform, UPS Supply Chain Symphony for Healthcare, also gives customers in that industry “a visibility and business intelligence tool to manage transportation data in real-time".
CEO: Oscar de Bok
DHL Supply Chain provides 5PL solutions to clients worldwide. Services include supply chain optimisation, inventory management, and transportation management. DHL Supply Chain is a division of DHL, the global logistics and transportation company that has operations in 50 countries, and a workforce of more than 150,000 employees.
“As a 5PL partner, we take care of our clients’ logistical demands, first by determining particular needs, then developing, implementing, and overseeing the entire solution,” it says.
CEO: Mario Harik
XPO is known for its innovative and technology driven approach to logistics and supply chain management. It has invested heavily in automation, robotics, and digital technologies to improve efficiency, reduce costs and enhance the customer experience. It offers 5PL solutions to its clients globally, with services including supply chain optimisation, transportation management, and warehouse management.
CEO: Michael Hassing
Maersk is a Danish integrated container logistics company and the world's largest container shipping company, with a fleet of 700 vessels.
In 2019, it acquired Damco, which was integrated into Maersk's logistics and services division. Damco was a freight forwarding and supply chain management services company whose services included air and ocean freight forwarding, customs brokerage, warehousing and distribution, and supply chain management consulting.
Deputy CEO: Olivier Storch
Global logistics company CEVA offers end-to-end supply chain solutions, including warehousing, distribution, transportation, and freight management services.
Called CEVA Control Tower, its 5PL solution provides real-time visibility and control over the entire supply chain. Solutions are designed to be repeatable, scalable, and sustainable to ensure they can be repeated at any location around the world with the same level of success.
CEO: Stanislas Bailly
SNECI is a global consulting and engineering company that specialises in the automotive industry. Its services cover a wide range of areas, including project management, quality management, supply chain management, and engineering and design. Its 5Pl services are designed to simplify cost control.
“Industrial clients are reassured to have local support close to their factories, speaking the language of their teams, in the same time zone, guaranteeing a 24-hour response,” it says of its 5PL service.”
CEO: Stefan Paul
Kuehne + Nagel is a global logistics and transportation company that has operations in more than 100 countries and a workforce of over 83,000. Its range of logistics and supply chain management services include air and sea freight, road transport, contract logistics, and supply chain optimisation. In terms of 5PL solutions to clients worldwide, services include supply chain planning and optimisation, inventory management, and transportation management.
CEO: Jochen Thewes
DB Schenker offers a wide range of transportation and logistics services to businesses and individuals around the world. It’s a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, one of the world's largest transportation and logistics companies. DB Schenker provides services in air, sea, and land freight forwarding. Its 5PL offering includes contract logistics, warehousing, and distribution. It has a presence in 130 countries and operates a network of 2,000 locations worldwide.
Vice Chairman: Tarek Sultan
Headquartered in Kuwait, Agility is a leading provider of supply chain services, innovation, and investment. It is a leading logistics company in Southeast Asia and offers 5PL solutions to clients that feature end-to-end supply chain management services, including freight forwarding, warehousing, and distribution.