How can a Third-Party Logistics company help solve your COVID-19 Supply Chain Problems?

Riverside Logistics Warehouse 3plThe disruption of supply chains due to Covid-19 is unprecedented. Businesses have been challenged to operate with a lack of mission critical raw materials, products or equipment. Economic realities of supply and demand will shift manufacturing from single source locations to decentralizing abroad or reshoring will occur back to the US to diversify supply chains.

Many challenges are ahead particularly for small businesses in terms of going back to work because of safety and security concerns. The cost structure will shift due to many factors and it will be critical to prepare for what the new normal entails.  Creating a regionally based supply chain will provide options for a market that is in flux.  Flexible solutions for storage and distribution are the advantages a third-party logistics (3PL) firm can provide and ensure that you can change with market demand.

Leveraging the Port system in Virginia is a good start to differentiate your supply chain for imports/exports.  Our Virginia Port system may offer cost advantages, less congestion and more vessel calls, than other ports on the East Coast.  Virginia continues to rank #1 as the best state for business which offers significant growth opportunities for companies needing a presence in this region.  A 3PL can provide this presence without the commitment of facilities and labor.

According to Keith Hamlett, President of Riverside Logistics, a Third-Party Logistics (3PL) company headquarted in Richmond, Virginia; a 3PL partner can provide expertise for clients facing these challenging issues in the supply chain.  A third-party Logistics company can offer a variety of ways to help with your supply chain diversification or expansion.  Listed are areas that a 3PL can assist.

  1. People- A third-party Logistics company (3PL) usually has experienced staff ready to provide solutions. Training can be a challenge in the current environment and a Third-Party Logistics company can provide the appropriate personnel customized for your environment. They often have training solutions in place to help speed this process. This ensures your supply chain will be in place quickly.
  1. Warehouse Space Available– Often 3PL’s have warehouse space available and under management, they can modify space for your specific needs. Some 3PL’s will have commodity specific warehouse space available like: food grade, pharma certified or hazmat for those markets. Not all warehouse space is created equal. Usually a 3PL will have multiple locations and can offer flexible solutions for you.  As an example, they may have a facility adjacent to the Port of Richmond for easy access for rail, import and export. They may have a rail side warehouse as well. A 3PL’s focus is to lower your total supply chain cost and flexible alternative solutions can be critical to your success.
  1. Transportation Solutions – Another advantage of working with a Third-Party Logistics company (3PL) is they have a broad array of freight services that include Truckload, Less than Truckload (LTL), Small Package and container drayage. Often, a 3PL will have owner operator’s and dedicated lanes, with routes throughout Virginia, the Mid-Atlantic and the Southeast. They may be able to offer pooled distribution and consolidated delivery services throughout the 48 states that can save you money. This can be a great advantage when you are constantly evaluating your supply chain cost.
  1. Technology – Technology and software can be expensive. Often a 3PL will utilize a Warehouse Management and Transportation Management system to optimize your freight costs and provide insight into mode optimization. Access to real time data such as:  order inventory status, and other tools to speed communication to your customers can be very powerful.  A 3PL can provide a team that works together to provide visibility to your supply chain for cost saving options as well as comprehensive reporting for planning purposes.
  1. Supply Chain Strategies – Partnering with a 3PL can provide guidance to secure your supply chain and focus on your goals – not just right now but for the future.

At the end of the day a Third-Party Logistics company offers you the ability to respond quickly and accurately to market conditions or unforeseen disruptions like Covid-19.  A 3PL can keep your supply chain running, so you can stay healthy – personally and professionally!



Riverside Logistics is a third-party logistics and supply chain management company providing a full complement of third-party logistics, transportation and warehousing solutions.

Riverside Logistics serves the Medical, Food, Chemical, Paper and other mission critical industry sectors.  Riverside Logistics has owner operator’s and dedicated lanes, with routes throughout Virginia, the Mid-Atlantic and the Southeast. Riverside Logistics offers pooled distribution and consolidated delivery services throughout the 48 states that can save you money. They are headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. To contact Riverside Logistics call 1-804-474-7700 Option 4 or click here to fill out the form on our contact page.


What quality controls should your warehouse provider offer?

This question is often asked when selecting a 3PL provider to handle the storage and distribution of products.  Before I can answer this question, I must start by defining quality controls.

Quality control (QC) is a process by which entities review the quality of all factors involved or an aggregate of activities (such as design analysis and inspection for defects) designed to ensure adequate quality in product production or distribution. ISO 9000., a series of international quality standards, defines quality control as “a part of quality management focused on fulfilling quality requirements”.

In summary, it’s a system for verifying and maintaining a desired level of quality.

So, why is this important when evaluating providers?

Obviously, you want to make sure whoever is managing your inventory is making sure they handle your products in a way that doesn’t create damage, losses, mis-ships, or compromise the integrity of your products while in their care.  You want your service provider to successfully catch issues early on and limit any future mistakes. This can help tighten up inefficient processes or aid in diagnosing a specific problem and improve warehouse efficiency, which should save you money in the long run.

What should you look for when evaluating providers?

My first question to a would-be provider:   What type of Warehouse Management System (WMS) is in place?  The most effective way to ensure quality control is to build it into the process.  This can be done by implementing a WMS that requires some form of scanning, audit trail capturing and location and storage unit barcoding.  In many WMS, such as the one we use, pickers are required to confirm remaining location quantities after each pick.  If used properly, a WMS can drastically reduce the error rate and help identify and document many non-conformities.  However, it won’t eliminate them if there are manual tasks within the processes.  There will always be opportunities for deviations.

Hence the need to verify the provider has procedures in place for unloading, receiving, inspecting, putaway, auditing, and shipping.  These procedures should identify non-conformances using trailer/carrier inspection (unloading/loading) forms, capturing inventory discrepancies during receiving, storage, and shipping, and damage/returns reporting processes.  In many cases, these procedures will describe the inspection steps for checking or double-checking and any other value-added services such as cycle counting or physical inventory programs.  There should be a system for making sure the procedures are reviewed frequently for accuracy.

Are there employees trained on these procedures or work instructions?  There should be a system in place for documenting training and making sure training is being completed and tracked for all activities from safety to routine inspections.

Finally, do they have a quality system in place for capturing and tracking errors and providing corrective action and preventive actions (CAPA)?  Any quality control system should provide a venue for capturing and reporting metrics around the effectiveness of their program.

If your provider doesn’t offer any or most of these services, you should start looking for a new provider.  Here at Riverside, many of our customer’s products are regulated by the FDA or some other governmental agency.  These agencies require strict adherence to many, if not all, of the items that I mentioned above.

As a result, we have met the audit expectations from our ISO certified customers and our largest facility location is NSF Food Grade certified.  Even if your products don’t need to meet the more stringent requirements, you can benefit from the best practices these requirements provide as we hold all our facilities to similar high standards for quality control.

Michael Kenny

Director, Warehouse Operations