Asset Vs Non Asset
Which Is Right for Your Project Cargo or Special Handling Needs?
There’s a lot of talk in the 3PL industry regarding asset vs. non-asset-based providers. For those outside looking in, that discussion can be more than a little confusing, particularly if you’re searching for a trusted partner to take care of your project cargo or special handling requirements. Finding a trusted 3PL provider will require understanding the differences between asset and non-asset-based 3PLs, as well as other key considerations.
Asset vs. Non-Asset - What's the Difference?
The crux of the asset vs. non-asset-based 3PL discussion is actually quite simple. It boils down to the following:
Asset-based 3PL providers own at least part of the shipping infrastructure (ships, aircraft, trucks and trains, warehouses, distribution centers, etc.) used to move your project cargo from its point of origin to its destination.
Non-asset-based 3PL providers, on the other hand, do not own any part of the infrastructure. Instead, they leverage in-depth expertise and industry experience to negotiate contracts, arrange for technology, and achieve cost reductions without sacrificing quality.
Which is Right for You?
To be clear, both asset and non-asset-based 3PL providers strive to deliver several advantages, including:
- Improved efficiency
- Reduced costs
- Fewer errors during shipping
- Timely delivery
Of course, with project cargo or loads requiring special handling, there’s more at risk than cost overruns or delivery delays. Large, heavy, or high-value equipment, or loads that require special consideration, care, and protection during transit must be handled properly, and that requires expertise and a deep understanding of the immense complexities involved. As such, you will need to evaluate several factors before making a decision.
Partnership Quality and Longevity
Both asset and non-asset-based 3PL providers focus on forging strong relationships. However, because non-asset-based providers do not own the infrastructure, these companies can put greater focus on the quality of the relationship, focus exclusively on serving your needs and solving your pressing challenges, and, ultimately, create partnerships that last longer.
Cost vs. Service
Cost is always a factor when it comes to logistics, but you cannot afford to leave your project cargo or special handling requirements to a bottom-dollar company. In logistics, you usually get what you pay for, and if you’re shopping for bargain-basement rates, you’ll also get bargain-basement service. While asset-based 3PLs might promise lower rates, you’ll find that service tends to suffer, while non-asset-based companies deliver greater service that ultimately offsets any price variance.
Adaptability to Customer Needs
Another area where non-asset providers stand out is in adaptability to customer needs. Asset-based providers are largely inflexible simply because they own part of the infrastructure – they’re forced to rely on those assets. Non-asset-based providers, on the other hand, can adapt to any needs, ensuring complete flexibility and adaptability.
Transparency and Communication
Sometimes you might want to “set it and forget it”, but when it comes to project cargo or loads that require special handling, you need access to accurate, timely information. Where is your freight? Is it on time? Are delays expected en-route? Was it inspected at load-in? How easily can you gain access to this information? Make sure that your logistics partner is dedicated to accurate communications and full transparency at every step of the journey.
Being Able to Develop Customer-Specific Solutions
Finally, it’s important to consider a provider’s ability to deliver customer-specific solutions. Non-asset providers exist to create customized solutions tailored to your unique needs, goals, budget, cargo type/size/handling needs, and more. At OCL, we work with you to create a collaborative design that addresses your supply chain needs and requirements today, but also in the future.
Ready to experience the difference a trusted logistics partner can make? Get a freight quote or email us for more information.