3PLs must become more flexible and innovative in meeting the changing needs of the supply chain, according to carmakers. But manufacturers should do more to help planning.

“We want 3PLs to be open to new ways of working, to be more responsive to change,” emphasised Bob Mountain, head of supply chain strategy at Honda Europe. “They need to be more pro-active, too. We want them to say ‘we have this problem, but here is how we can solve it’–not wait for us to drive the solution.”

Mountain spoke to Automotive Logistics on the sidelines of the 3PL conference in Brussels, where many speakers would have agreed with him. Large 3pls emphasised that the volatility of the supply chain has an impact on logistics.

“There is an unpredictability of demand. We have to have continuous contingency plans,” said Monika Ribar, CEO of Panalpina. Greater collaboration between 3PL and shipper would help, but, warned Ribar, manufacturers have to play their part. “Customers have to be willing to talk about their processes,” she emphasised.

“Shippers only forecast, on average, two weeks in advance,” pointed out Rolf Habben-Jansen, CEO of Damco. “With such a short forecast, they can’t expect 3PLs to plan accurately to provide good service. Shippers must select the right partner, invest in their supplier relationship–and not just keep changing provider because of price. Finally, they must deliver on commitments including more accurate forecasting.”