The story behind United Facilities's growth has roots that run deep. From operating a public warehouse to now operating as a nationwide third-party-logistics company, the evolution of United Facilities has been profound over the past several decades years.
Early Stages of United Facilities
In 1953, the early founders of United Facilities bought at a five-story, 125,000 square foot building in central Illinois with the intention of creating a manufacturing business of their own. While planning this new endeavor, they began warehousing other companies' products. So it was by accident that United Facilities had entered in the public warehousing business.
With backgrounds in design and manufacturing, they saw opportunities in what is now known as the logistics industry. Instead of just storing products, United Facilities decided to integrate inventory coming from various points to ship customer orders.
In 1959, this type of innovative thinking led to one of the first multiyear warehouse contracts in the nation, which established United Facilities as a pioneer in the outsource logistics industry. The company's success has not been by accident, but rather through innovation and superior customer service.
Due to the excellent service provided in Peoria, one customer requested that the brothers open an out-of-state distribution center in 1967. This made United Facilities one of the first existing multi-state warehouse service providers in the industry.
Growth Driven By Technology & Innovation
Computer-based networking systems were seen as an operational, competitive advantage as early as 1984. A few years after that, a systems designer was hired full-time to develop a WMS System, which, with several upgrades, is still used today.
The 1990s brought about many new initiatives to further enhance customer service. Product sampling services were provided to customers, as well as in-store display setups, packaging, kitting, light assembly, and contract manufacturing services. This also included programming and technical writing expertise, computer-aided design, layout and other engineering services and internet fulfillment.
United Facilities has expanded its packaging department which has become an area of expertise for the logistics company. They have focused a large amount of energy in streamlining the packaging processes and also using cutting edge technologies to save money and increase productivity, and drive incremental sales growth.
United Facilities Today
Today, a new generation of Altorfers is active in managing the logistics company. Through an ever-expanding variety of services, the company has grown to over 5 million square feet with operations in eleven cities.
Expansion and innovation is what drives the current generation of United Facilities. Emphasis on technology, continuous improvements and community presence are key aspects of how United Facilities continues to evolve in the world supply chain arena. New tracking and inventory control programs have been introduced in the last three years which have markedly helped boost productivity and reduce costs.
Third-party logistics (3PL) providers are companies that provide the resources, capacity, and solutions to help various businesses better manage and execute the logistics of warehousing, order fulfillment and shipping transport.
Value of Third-Party Logistics Providers
3PL companies that handle transport logistics and freight forwarding make it easier for businesses to concentrate on their primary objectives without having to worry about the transportation and distribution of inventory. In essence, 3PL companies monitor and manage warehousing operations, the transportation of goods, and order fulfillment.
In addition to helping businesses manage complex freight requirements, advanced third-party logistics providers go one step further by factoring-in cyclical market trends, road transport laws and limitations, as well as clients' unique needs and demands. Advanced 3PLs provide a fluid means to adapt and achieve the supply chain goals for particular businesses so as to maximize profit margins.
Advanced 3PL Providers Have Proficiency, Resources, & Experience
One of the most significant elements that distinguish dependable 3PL providers is to be strictly aware of service requirements for the delivery of products. Reputable 3PL companies have the proficiency and experience in the storage and routing of goods. They also employ skilled logistics management professionals, engineers, IT specialists, and supply chain managers to support day-to-day operations.
As a result, advanced 3PLs combine strategic thinking with hi-tech software and logistics resources to attain the most efficient and value-added supply chain possible for their clients. Below are a few ways in which 3PL companies can help businesses manage complex freight requirements, all while optimizing the management of their supply chains.
1. Freight Carriers Contest for 3PL Business
Freight carriers often rival with one another in serving third party logistics clients. Since 3PL companies contract with several carriers, they can often provide various service levels and shipment times. As a result, clients of 3PLs can benefit from more timely shipments, and often times at a lower cost.
In addition, since freight carriers contend with each other for the business of third party logistics providers, 3PL companies have higher bargaining power and control than a single shipper. This implies that you as the client have access to more reasonable rates, better time allocations and booking options, reduced demurrage, and per-diem penalty rates.
2. Hiring a 3PL Company is Often More Affordable than In-House Supply Chain Management
If your business currently does all of your shipping and logistics internally, you can encounter dramatic managerial savings by contracting a third-party logistics provider. Since 3PL companies cater to your whole supply chain from beginning to the end, they can save your business valuable time and resources.
Because of their size and trading power, they can broker freight for far less than you could likely attain independently. This saves your operations both time and revenue, and lets your workforce concentrate on your company's greater business goals and strategies.
3. 3PL Companies Offer Improved Control and Better Information
3PL companies apply state-of-the-art software for tracking and routing all the warehousing and logistics operations under their control. Many 3PLs employ skilled engineers and math wizards to manage accounts personally. By synchronizing all processes of the supply chain and transport modes, they’re capable of combining and reporting distinct data via value-added information services.
Lastly, 3PL companies offer better control via vendor relationship management and pro-actively communicating with foreign suppliers to ensure everything goes as planned. They even provide performance reports so you can accurately see where and how much you are saving. When using a third party logistics, shippers eventually have somebody to hold liable for all shipments along the legs of the supply chain.