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Finding the right 3PL in today’s global marketplace involves looking beyond the provider’s “vision” statement. And there’s still an element of prognostication involved once a short list of the Top 50 has been whittled down. By Patrick Burnson

One of the key takeaways from this year’s list of Top 50 Global third-party logistics providers (3PLs) - compiled by market consultancy Armstrong & Associates - is that business forecasting is becoming increasingly important to shippers when choosing the provider that best fits their needs.

This notion becomes even more urgent when one considers that the 3PL market compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 1996 to 2012 fell 0.3 percent to 10 percent.

Domestic transportation management (DTM) led financial results for 3PL segments again in 2012. Gross revenues were up 9.2%, and at the same time, the cost of purchasing transportation, increased competition, and slackened demand are pressuring DTM gross margins and net revenues.

As a result, net revenues increased by only 5.4 percent. Overall gross margins were 14.6 percent—in 2011 they were 15.2 percent. However, overall 3PL earnings before interest, tax, and net income margins remained strong, ringing in at 33.2 percent and 20.3 percent of net revenue respectively.

The key to sustaining that net income trend appears to be in the top provider’s ability to anticipate market trends, say analysts.

“Third party logistics providers are good at modeling transportation and distribution networks and identifying overall shifts in demand,” notes Evan Armstrong, the consultancy’s president. “But they also have the forecasting tools associated with integrated warehousing and transportation management.”

According to Armstrong, the leading players in the value-added area of forecasting are Menlo Worldwide, Ryder SCS, APL Logistics, Genco, UTi, and DB Schenker. “Based on our findings,” he says, “these companies can be leveraged by shippers to identify key inventory deployment locations and lower-cost transportation lanes.”

Armstrong & Associates Top 50 Global 3PLs

  • 2012 Gross Logistics Revenue (USD Millions)*
    Third-Party Logistics Provider

  1. $31,639
    DHL Supply Chain & Global Forwarding
  2. $22,141
    Kuehne + Nagel
  3. $20,321
    Nippon Express
  4. $19,789
    DB Schenker Logistics
  5. $11,359
    C.H. Robinson Worldwide
  6. $9,832
    Hyundai GLOVIS
  7. $9,290
    CEVA Logistics
  8. $9,147
    UPS Supply Chain Solutions
  9. $7,759
  10. $7,523
  11. $7,060
  12. $7,038
    SDV (Bolloré Group)
  13. $6,760
    Toll Holdings
  14. $5,981
    Expeditors International of Washington
  15. $5,868
  16. $5,670
  17. $5,267
  18. $4,608
    UTi Worldwide
  19. $4,605
  20. $3,800
    IMPERIAL Logistics
  21. $3,593
    Hellmann Worldwide Logistics
  22. $3,526
    Yusen Logistics
  23. $3,272
  24. $3,155
    Kintetsu World Express
  25. $3,124
    Hub Group
  26. $2,933
    Burris Logistics
  27. $2,700
    Schneider Logistics & Dedicated
  28. $2,689
  29. $2,601
    Pantos Logistics
  30. $2,490
    Kerry Logistics
  31. $2,366
    Norbert Dentressangle
  32. $2,280
    Ryder Supply Chain Solutions
  33. $2,090
    FIEGE Group
  34. $1,895
    BDP International
  35. $1,747
  36. $1,730
    Neovia Logistics Services
  37. $1,726
    Menlo Worldwide Logistics
  38. $1,703
  39. $1,609
    Nissin Corporation/Nissin Group
  40. $1,580
  41. $1,555
    APL Logistics
  42. $1,540
    BLG Logistics Group
  43. $1,536
    J.B. Hunt Dedicated Contract Services & Integrated Capacity Solutions
  44. $1,476
  45. $1,387
    Total Quality Logistics
  46. $1,350
  47. $1,300
    Transplace (View all Transplace Resources)
  48. $1,200
  49. $1,090
    Werner Enterprises Dedicated & Logistics
  50. $1,058
    Swift Transportation
*Revenues are company reported or Armstrong & Associates, Inc. estimates and have been converted to USD using the average exchange rate in order to make non-currency related growth comparisons.

Armstrong & Associates Top 30 U.S. Domestic 3PLs on the next page.

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2013 Top 50 Global & Top 30 Domestic 3PLs

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About the author
Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review. Patrick covers international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. Contact Patrick Burnson

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