Digital Technology Resources of 3PL & 4PL Service Providers

Written by Chin Hui Ling, DLSM

by Chin Hui Ling, DLSM

The technology evolves in such killing pace had created many complications for logistics service providers such as third-party logistic (3PL) and fouth-party logistic (4PL). The new emerging technology such as 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, business models using network platform-based and sharing economy demand increases as it provides the fulfilment of client for the ease of accessibility, economical, efficient and convenient.

Tools for 3D Software Application

Dassault Systèmes provides a wide variety of software provides tools used in 3D modelling, layout planning, manufacturing process planning, document profiling and other. The picture below shows the range of Dassault Systemes software.

Dassault Systemes software - SIPMM

CATIA software can be applied to wide variety of industries as its functions are very powerful. The industries such as aerospace, automotive, industrial machinery, electrical, electronics, shipbuilding, plant design, and consumer goods, including design for such diverse products as jewellery and clothing. The software is capable of tackle complete product development process. From the start of developing product concept specification through product-in-service, in a fully integrated and associative manner.

Another well-known software provided by Dassault Systèmes is Solidworks. Similar to CATIA, it also could be used to design new product. However, this software focuses more on solving design problems. SOLIDWORKS has a function known as SOLIDWORKS simulation which is a tool that allows the designer to visualise product behaviour under different operating situations and conditions. The simulation could put the product under wide variety of scenarios and make changes as they determine which traits they want to enhance and which traits they want to eliminate. The designed product details store in the software could be print out using 3D printer.

Product design by using CATIA - SIPMM

The picture above shows the product design by using CATIA ( (Rehman, 2017)

3D Printing

Ever since the 3D technology gains the publicity, the impact it created was enormous as it disrupts the peace of traditional supply chain and logistics industries. The process of 3D printing was convenience and fast that many sectors desire these traits.

3D printing process - SIPMM

The picture above shows the 3D printing process.

Eric Masanet, the Morris E Fine junior professor at Northwestern University in the Robert R McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, stated that 3D printed metal parts can reduce the weight of an aircraft up to 7% (Halterman, 2015).

The US Department of Energy Advanced Manufacturing Office states that 3D printing could be used to build lighter and more efficient metal parts using cutting edge materials. It also reduces manufacturing waste as it will conserve thousands of expensive material such as aluminium, titanium and nickel. Since the amount of the fuel used by the aircraft heavily depends on its weight, 3D printing allows the metal parts to be print in such manner that the weight itself is reduced by comparing the existing manufacturing process. As an example provided by Masanet, to produce a 1kg bracket for an aeroplane using conventional methods may as well used up to 10 kg raw material. By using 3D printing, the production on such bracket could reduce the weight from 1.09kg to just 0.38kg, and that proves that 3D printing can provide the opportunities for major savings as large and complex as an aircraft (Halterman, 2015).

China, reluctant at first had accepted and fully embrace the concept 3D printing. The first large Chinese commercial passenger jet built in 2017, featuring 3D printed parts had been introduced to the world proudly. The passenger jet, also known as C919 aircraft, had been tested flight and proven to be safe to use (Saunders, 2017).

C919 aircraft using 3D printed parts - SIPMM

The picture above shows the C919 aircraft using 3D printed parts.

Adobe Software Solutions

Customers now expect the 3PL and 4PL to provide more advanced and adaptable solution offering due to the constantly improving technology, in turn, allow them to compete on a higher plane (Reichert, 2009).

Adobe provides many tools that ease the process of storing and preparing all the document and as well as designing purposes. One of the products known Adobe Creative Cloud is useful for the marketing purposes. The software helps the user to create and design logos, posters, brochures, advertisements, and other (Adobe Systems Incorporated., 2018).

Supply Chain Ads
Adobe Creative Cloud - SIPMM

The picture above shows the tools provided by Adobe Creative Cloud.

For documentation and profiling purpose, Adobe Document Cloud was created to solely create to fulfil that purpose. The software can create and share accessible PDFs that are filled with information can reuse for another purpose. It could also collect signature so that the document could be automated to be signed automatically instead of slow manual signing. The software eases the amount of control the client needs to focus on their logistics.

Autodesk Software Solutions

Autodesk Inc outsources their software (AutoCAD) to media and entertainment for its ability of 3D modelling and animation for games and movies. Apart from media and entertainment, AutoCAD also used in construction industries for the layout drawing and manufacturing industries for product design (Autodest Inc, 2018).

Autodesk provides a software known as Architecture Engineering Construction for the software provide the tools as shown:

• Vertical and horizontal BIM processes across the project lifecycle, so the user can deliver more scalable, sustainable, and resilient civil infrastructure.
• Portfolio of interoperable BIM (Building Information Modelling) and CAD technologies for insight into all phases of building design.
• Visually explore project constructability, ultimately helping the user manage costs more effectively and better predict project outcomes.

Architecture drawing to its final product - SIPMM

The schematic diagram above illustrates how the software was used to visualise the architecture drawing to its final product.

In the media and the entertainment industry as mentioned, the software gives animators, modellers, and visual effects artists the tools to help them create compelling effects, believable 3D characters, and stunning environments for film, TV, and games.

Autodesk also provides the Software of Product Design and Manufacturing to help engineer by providing:

• Provide modern engineering with more ease on product design and manufacturing.
• Provide advance simulation tools to test product into design environment.


Digitalization of the 3PL and 4PL service provider could be seen as greatly desirable in wide variety of industries. As digitalization means more visibility in the system, merged information with no integration needed, image-driven RF operation, and fast, easy and immediate knowledge transfer provide more attractive competitive advantages over other 3PL or 4PL that still cloud not evolve with the technology.

With constant new immerging technology appear, those services provider must change in order to survive the market that is driven by the client thirst for easy operation and ease of accessibility.


Adobe Systems Incorporated. (2018). Retrieved from Adobe:, accessed 21/03/2018.

Autodest Inc. (2018). “3D Modeling”. Retrieved from, accessed 21/03/2018.

Bavani Prapaharan. MISPMM (2018). “New Technologies in the Maritime Industry”. Retrieved from, accessed 20/03/2018.

Dassault Systèmes (2018). “The 3D experience company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations”. Retrieved from, accessed 21/03/2018.

Halterman, T. (2015). “New Data Shows That 3D Printed Components Could Cut Aircraft Weight By 7 Percent”. Retrieved from, accessed 21/03/2018.

Rehman, M. (2017). “Pratt & Whitney Turbofan Engine PW1000G – CATIA v5”. Retrieved from, accessed 21/03/2018.

Reichert, J. (2009). “The Value of Becoming a Technology-Driven 3PL”. Retrieved from, accessed 21/03/2018.

Saunders, S. (2017). “China’s First Large Commercial Passenger Jet, Featuring 3D Printed Metal Parts, Makes Successful Maiden Flight”. Retrieved from, accessed 21/03/2018.

About the Author: Chin Hui Ling has substantive years of experiences in the field of logistics and warehouse management, and specifically in the sector of technology programmable devices. She is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). Hui Ling completed the course on Diploma in Logistics and Supply Management (DLSM) in March 2018 at SIPMM Academy.