Demystifying Logistics Carriers: Understanding Their Role in Supply Chain Management


Supply chain management wouldn’t be possible without logistics carriers. The carriers physically transport the goods, but they also do much more. Countless people aren’t aware of the role these carriers play in supply chain management. However, they should. What is the role of logistics carriers in getting goods into consumers’ hands?

Types of Logistics Carriers

There are several main categories of logistics carriers, including trucking companies that provide overland transportation via roads and highways with services like less-than-truckload (LTL) and full-truckload (FTL); rail carriers that transport large volumes of goods domestically via an extensive rail network and intermodal rail combines rail transport with other modes; air freight carriers, which quickly transport light, valuable or time-sensitive goods domestically or globally via airplane; and ocean freight carriers, which involve shipping merchandise and raw materials around the world via marine vessels with services like FCL (full container load) and LCL (less container load).

Logistics Carrier Services

Logistics carriers help manufacturers get their products to buyers. They might also provide value-added services related to the shipments to help the manufacturers. There are many providers and service options to choose from, so each manufacturer must determine their needs and choose a carrier accordingly. The carrier packet is of great help when making this choice. 

The Critical Role of Logistics Carriers  

Logistics carriers are critical in supply chain operations. They physically move inventory to meet customer demand in a timely, flexible, and cost-efficient manner. No goods would flow without their transportation services. The capabilities of carriers influence supply chain planning relating to network design, inventory management, facility locations, procurement, sustainability initiatives, and more. They aren’t just movers of freight, but strategic partners that enable data visibility, risk mitigation, cost control, service improvements, and competitive differentiation.  

Tips for Choosing a Logistics Carrier

When choosing a logistics carrier, you should consider several key factors. First, examine the carrier’s experience and client list to ensure they have expertise handling shipments similar to yours regarding weight, dimensions, freight class, temperature control needs, security requirements, or other considerations that may apply. Request customer references and follow up to gain insight on service quality, responsiveness, and ability to meet quoted transit times consistently.

Additionally, compare rates and service options across multiple carriers. While one may offer an attractively low price, probe into what exactly is covered should problems arise mid-transit. Confirm how damages, shortages, and exceptions are handled plus guarantees provided. Also, inquire if additional fees apply for accessorial services like lift gate use or residential delivery you may require. Understanding the complete pricing picture could reveal one bidder’s rock-bottom rate is less valuable than a competitor’s when service limits and exception charges enter the equation.

Beyond verifying operating authorities, insurance levels, compliance certifications, and technology capabilities, make sure to meet account reps in person when possible. Assessing professionalism, knowledge, and communication skills firsthand gives you greater confidence in relying on that point person to spearhead solutions, provide status updates, and generally have your back when facing carrier-related problems down the road.

Logistics carriers form the critical linkages to facilitate interconnected, integrated supply networks. Understanding the various freight modes, line-haul transportation, and value-added services carriers provide is essential for any operation or supply chain manager. Selecting the right logistics partners and collaborating effectively allows companies to optimize their supply chain execution and obtain operational advantages in the marketplace.