European 4PL Research Club

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Europe-wide initiative investigates the integration of supply chains

Logistics experts from six European academic institutions are working in partnership to carry out research into the viability of the ‘Fourth Party Logistics’ (4PL) logistics management concept.

In the past multi-national organisations have outsourced their logistics management to third parties (3PL’s) within the various countries they operate in. The 4PL concept goes a step further suggesting that logistics management should be outsourced to a single company (or a 4PL), which provides integrated services for the operation of the supply chain internationally and manages the information and material flow between all parties involved. The 4PL service provider contributes to the sustainable competitiveness of all the collaborating manufacturing and service companies.

The research project is being led by the academic members of E4PLRC and aims to demystify the concept of 4PL and discover whether there are quantifiable benefits in adopting this approach to cross-border supply networks.

The academic partners of the E4PLRC are: Cranfield School of Management (United Kingdom), Linköpings Universitet (Sweden), the Centre for Enterprise Science of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (Switzerland); ECORYS, a research and consulting company (Netherlands); the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML), Dortmund (Germany), and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA), Stuttgart (Germany).