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What’s The Best Storage Solution for Third Party Logistics Services?

A third party logistics (3PL) distribution centre offers outsourced procurement and fulfilment services. This encompasses eCommerce logistics management and operations. A 3PL provider will handle warehousing, picking and packing, and transportation. A 3PL warehouse company specifically, is dedicated to stocking, maintaining, and monitoring a client’s products. This outsourcing is most often used when a company has a very large inventory, has recently expanded operations, or has a smaller team that is more vitally needed on other operations.

One of the most significant challenges faced by 3PL companies is meeting the desired, and ever diminishing, time expectations from consumer to company. The storage solutions required therefore need to be as efficient, and with as low pick time, as possible. Furthermore, because a 3PL may have constantly shifting inventory depending on the company they are working with, they also favour flexibility, versatility, and scalability. 3PLs usually store products for companies that fulfil small orders, and therefore often mix a few different solutions in order to maximise efficiency and flexibility.

The most common storage medium for 3PL firms is adjustable pallet racking, due to its versatility, durability, and efficiency within a warehouse. Different pallet racking systems have different advantages due to their different configurations, but within an industry that reacts to short term contracts and ever changing products, this is a low-risk solution that can hold most products effectively and is easily adjustable and available in both LIFO and FIFO configurations.

3PL firms also rely largely on smaller storage solutions, such as long span shelving or hand stack racking. These can be implemented to work with pallet racking, either on the bottom beam level, or situated on top in a mezzanine floor configuration. This is an effective solution where a 3PL may at times have products which do not fit into pallet spaces or traditional pallet racking. It offers another versatile and lightweight, easily configurable solution. This also helps to utilise vertical capacity as effectively as floor capacity.

In recent years, there has also been a shift toward automated systems and the use of robotics. An AGV is an Automated Guided Vehicle and AMR is an Autonomous Mobile Robot. AGVs use magnetic

tapes with set points on to follow paths of preset guidance. AMRs are more dynamic machines

programmed to navigate themselves to preset end points, they can navigate obstacles along the way. These are effectively used by 3PL systems to improve pick speeds and lower labour costs. They are also another instantly changeable solution as they can be reprogrammed as soon as storage needs change, rather than requiring complete disassembly and reassembly.

The constantly shifting nature of a 3PL distribution centre requires storage solutions which offer versatility as much as they do efficiency. Here at DC Space and Storage Solutions, we’re always on hand to answer your questions and offer bespoke warehouse design consultations. Get in touch today to find out how best to optimise your warehouse, call 01392 927 096, or email

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