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            october 21, 2019

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Menlo promotes 4PL flexibility as solution to supply chain resilience


A recent academic conference in Paris organised by the LOG4Green partnership provided the platform for Menlo Logistics’ Arthur van Gerven to explain the rationale behind employing a 4PL in ‘Managing Risk and Resilience in Sustainable Logistics and Supply Chain Management for Urban Supply’
A resilient supply chain is the fundamental goal of the majority of enterprises throughout the world.  Increased complexity, the pressure to become both more efficient and environmentally friendly, as well as the geographical distances involved in such supply chains all contribute to a greater risk of disruption.  Clearly solutions need to become increasingly innovative to meet the challenge.
Arthur van Gerven from the global logistics service provider Menlo Logistics was recently invited to join professors of logistics and other leading authorities from around Europe to address the issue and present Menlo’s view on how solutions can be created. The TRA 2014 Conference, of which Van Gerven’s session formed a part, was organized by the LOG4GREEN* cooperation.  This initiative aims at awareness raising and strengthening the competitiveness in Europe’s logistics sector. 
Van Gerven started from the premise that 4PL or lead logistics provision benefits supply chain resilience by avoiding the causes of disruption or by better adapting to its consequences.  “The over-sight provided by a 4PL operator will improve performance in four criteria, which are key to the resilience of any supply chain,” explained van Gerven. “The model provides flexibility to achieve rapid reaction to circumstances; predictability in order to maximise optimisation and both cost and carbon efficiency, which promote business and environmental sustainability.”
Out-sourcing to a 3PL service provider goes some way to managing the results of supply chain  disruption whether created by a major disaster capable of paralysing a complete production process or more minor localised events such as traffic congestion or labour disputes.  However, a 4PL approach, over-seeing all out-sourced logistics suppliers allows for the identification also of more systematic, process-driven inefficiencies.  A good 4PL is capable of designing solutions to reinforce any complex supply chain. 
Menlo’s approach, as described by van Gerven in the real-life context of a retail sportswear customer, revolves around the technique of Value Stream Mapping.  This is part of the Lean methodology and has as its primary goals the elimination of waste and creating a road map for continuous improvement. 
As a result of employing this philosophy, resilience is built into the supply chain performance.  Measurement of asset leverage and process efficiency as well as emission target achievement is continuous and the ability to resist disruption is constantly reviewed.  Disaster recovery and contingency planning can then also take place with the confidence that a robust yet flexible supply chain is already in operation.
In concluding van Gerven also underlined a further benefit of the 4PL’s adaptability. “Resilience is also enhanced by the ability of shippers and their 4PL’s to collaborate in reducing supply chain waste and emissions and therefore improve sustainability through the joint utilisation of assets and sharing of resources.  This is a vital consideration in the future success of minimising supply chain disruption,” he said.

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