Supply chains often have to navigate chaos, confusion and disruption on a global scale, and the ways they are seeking to do so include new and innovative approaches.
One is the increasing use third-party (3PL) and fourth-party logistics (4PL) providers as strategic partners
3PLs focus on order fulfilment, including warehousing, picking and packing orders, and shipping packages.
A 4PL, however, manages the entire supply chain, including fulfilment, transportation, and technology. Omnichannel retail – fuelled by the shift to ecommerce during the pandemic – is one of the factors driving growth in the 4PL market, which is expected to hit US$89.95bn by 2030.
Here are 10 of the leading 4PL providers servicing customer needs in Europe.
Top 4PL providers, Europe: DHL Supply Chain
CEO: Oscar de Bok
HQ: Bonn, Germany
DHL Supply Chain offers ‘integrated solutions’, designed to “extend efficiency, flexibility, and cost benefits to the entire end-to-end supply chain”, it says. The company draws together services including transport, warehousing and management into an “optimised package that ensures supply chain operations are simplified and your business becomes stronger and more efficient”.
Top 4PL providers, Europe: Kuehne + Nagel
CEO: Stefan Paul
HQ: Schindellegi, Switzerland
Kuehne+Nagel offers a 4PL solution called ControLOG, which offers real-time visibility across the supply chain, helping with problem solving and proactive risk mitigation.
It says this is “an integrated ecosystem built on 20 years’ experience at maximising value in our customers’ supply chains and applying these lessons to our service offerings”.
It adds that the offering “is enabled by core values and technologies which power our ability to support our customers”.
Top 4PL providers, Europe: DB Schenker
CEO: Jochen Thewes
HQ: Frankfurt, Germany
Germany-based DB Schenker offers a 4PL service called Lead Logistics. This is an umbrella platform for 4PL, freight management, transport management, and supply chain solutions.
Schenker says of its Lead Logistics engineers: “They bring years of global logistics and 4PL experience to create customised and competitive logistics services for your cross-border supply chain.”
Top 4PL providers, Europe: UPS Supply Chain Solutions
President (Europe): Susanne Klingler-Werner
HQ: Atlanta, USA
UPS Worldwide Logistics is a leading 4PL provider. The company has access to integrated data across its logistics and transport operations. UPS offers full supply chain integration and access to this real-time data, and this allows for strategic decision-making.
It says: “Our supply chain expertise, end-to-end services and value-added solutions are designed to scale with growing businesses and help them grow even faster.”
Top 4PL providers, Europe: CEVA Logistics
CEO: Mathieu Friedberg
HQ: Marseille, France
CEVA is a recognised 4PL logistics expert. It has 750 warehouses worldwide, and offers end-to-end supply chain solutions. Its Contract Logistics division is, it says, “built on technology and innovation to deliver optimised and reliable solutions”.
It adds: “Whatever the complexity and the geographical scope, we will design, execute and monitor your supply chain strategy to help you keep your promises to your customers.”
CEVA recently announced it is increasing its footprint in India, the world’s most populous country. It will acquire 96% of Mumbai-based Stellar Value Chain Solutions, which has grown into a key player in contract logistics.
Top 4PL providers, Europe: XPO Logistics
MD, UK & I: Dan Myers
HQ: Connecticut, USA
XPO is a leading innovator of transport services in Europe. Key-PL is its 4PL service, an offering that covers many verticals, including technology, automotive, chemical, building, food packaging and distribution.
UK & I, MD Dan Myers says: “Since the start of 2023 brands are thinking more strategically, by “creating strategic alliances with partners to avoid any repeat of supply chain difficulties. Companies want the added resilience that working with a logistics specialist can offer a business.”
Top 4PL providers, Europe: TMC
Operations Manager: Marvin Johnson
HQ: Minnesota, USA
CH Robinson Worldwide has a division called TMC that acts as 4PL. TMC provides a full suite of logistics managed services and supply chain consulting for companies around the world.
The solution connects networks, automates routing guides, and tenders freight, all in a single platform called Navisphere. TMC manages carriers, reduces exceptions (service anomalies), and drives performance, it says.
Top 4PL providers, Europe: DSV Panalpina
CEO: Jens Bjørn Andersen
HQ: Hedehusene, Denmark
DSV launched its 4PL solution, Lead Logistics, in 2019. The platform is a “non-asset based, neutral supply chain orchestrator of transport services”.
The modular solution uses cloud-based technology that supports supply chain design, implementation, and management across all modes, geographies, and currencies. Physical transport services are provided by both DSV and other providers.
Top 4PL providers, Europe: Geodis
CEO: Marie-Christine Lombard
HQ: Levallois-Perret, France
Geodis launched its multi-modal digital freight marketplace, Upply, in 2018. The solution, it says, “pioneers a more efficient and transparent supply chain market, and meets the demands of an increasingly fast-paced supply chain market”.
Upply invites shippers, forwarders and other logistics players to choose a mode of transport, followed by the number of pallets, containers or weight the shipment constitutes, and price per kilo sought.