Companies with specialized requirements, such as pharmaceuticals manufacturers, have traditionally been hesitant to outsource distribution. But as technology improves, many third-party logistics providers (3PLs) are better suited to serve companies with specialized logistics requirements.
What’s the first step to finding out if a 3PL can meet your requirements? The answer lies within the RFP.
Ask specific questions about past experience and capabilities
The RFP is your chance to find out if the 3PL is capable of meeting your requirements. To get the information that will help you the most, you’ll likely need to ask a lot of very specific questions about their processes and procedures. A few questions that might be helpful:
- What are your cold-chain management capabilities? Do you offer temperature-controlled packaging? What systems do you have in place if temperature ever falls out of range?
- What are your transportation security procedures? Security procedures in the warehouse?
- What types of value added services can you offer pharmaceutical companies, such as kitting separate items into one unit?
- Can you supply qualified drivers and handlers of product?
- How do you track shipments? Can you deliver at a specific time?
- Can you design custom logistics solutions or processes?
Explain your specialized needs for storing and transporting product
The RFP responses you collect are critical to determine whether a 3PL is capable of storing or transporting your product. If you list all your requirements up front, each 3PL will explain how they plan to meet them – and that’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about. You’ll save a lot of time if you can qualify each 3PL early on in the process.
Think about including:
- Necessary temperature control in the warehouse and throughout transit
- Security requirements during warehouse and transit
- FDA and other federal regulation compliance
- International regulation compliance
- Procedures for handling customs and taxes (for international logistics)
- Any limitations on shelf life
- Expected volume and frequency of shipments
Many 3PL companies are well equipped to handle pharmaceuticals and other products with highly specialized needs and requirements. When you receive the RFP response, you’ll be able to qualify logistics companies based on their answers and capabilities – and it will be a lot easier for you to decide who moves on to the next phase.