What is a 4PL?

The 4PL term – short for fourth party logistics – dates back to 1996 and was coined by Accenture who defined a 4PL as:

“A supply chain integrator that assembles and manages the resources, capabilities, and technology of its own organization with those of complementary service providers to deliver a comprehensive supply chain solution.” 

The below pyramid, represents one of the most common ways of looking at and defining the role of a 4PL provider

4PL,4th party logistics provider pyramid, used on our logistics training blog
A logistics parties pyramid

4PL also called logistics outsourcing or lead logistics “can be defined as the strategic use of outside parties (business independency) to perform activities traditionally handled by internal staff and resources”. A 4PL provider will typically allocates resources to a company in order to manage their supply chain. A 4PL will work as an extension of this company, exercising their strategy and driving your initiatives.

Commonly a fourth party logistics provider will be involved in 3 main fields – logistics and supply chain strategy, operations and support. Some activities and their related fields are displayed in the below Venn diagram:

A simplified 4PL activities overview diagram used on our logistics training blog
4PL activities overview

As an extension of its customer a 4PL provider will become his representative on the logistics market and interact on his behalf.
The below simplified process map gives an idea of the position and role of a 4PL provider.

A simplified 4PL process used on our logistics training blog
A simplified 4PL process

About our company

Since 1992, Allyn International has been fulfilling its mission of “Providing exceptional professional services for the global marketplace, enabling our customers to succeed by focusing on their core business while inspiring our employees to achieve their full potential.” and has  been supporting worldwide customers in the field of logistics, trade compliance and tax services.

Allyn International has been providing 4PL service since 1997 and is one of the pioneers in this field and notably provides dedicated logistics specialists and consultants to customers.

Other possible readings:

Supply chain terms and definitions