The 4PL: Partner for the Global Supply Chain

Fourth-party logistics providers offer expertise and manpower to enable world-class supply chain operations


Neutral Party

Jeff Chiu, a principal at Globa4PL who heads the firm’s import/export engagements and who is a recognized expert in the compliance field, says that “neutrality” is an important characteristic in a 4PL. “We are neutral dealing with providers to achieve the best combination of providers for our customers’ supply chains,” says Chiu, who also has been named a “Provider Pro to Know.” “We assess all the possibilities out there to find the best solution possible. We’re acting on behalf of the customer.”

Chiu adds that a 4PL can also bring to the table the kind of extensive operational experience that might be difficult to find on the market. Chiu himself, for example, is a licensed U.S. Customs Broker and has more than 15 years of experience in import/export operations and compliance. Retamal, likewise, has a professional CV that includes directing the development and management of complete supply chain networks in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America. His past roles involved planning and leading global supply chain strategies for companies such as Sun Microsystems, Ryder Integrated Logistics, and Cost Plus World Market.

The upshot is that a firm like Global4PL can bring a “nuts-and-bolts” operational perspective to a project. “We label ourselves as a consulting company, but any advice that we give on how to do something is based on our actual experience,” says Chiu. “We’ve done it, we’re still doing it, and we can tell you how to do it, or we can do it for you.”

Best of Both Worlds

Infinera first engaged with Global4PL in 2007. Infinera provides digital optical networking systems to telecommunications carriers worldwide. JB Delaney brought in Global4PL shortly after he became director of supply chain at the company, at a time when he realized Infinera either needed to hire staff to support the company’s global growth or engage with an outside services provider.

The issue with hiring new staff, though, was that he had traditionally found logistics practitioners to be strong either in pure logistics operations or on the import/export compliance arenas. “By bringing in Global 4PL, I got both,” he says. “They understand the sense of urgency when it comes to logistics, clearing customs and managing freight, and they also have the thoroughness and experience to handle all the compliance issues as well.”

Much of Global4PL’s work for Infinera is confidential, but Delaney says that Global4PL was able to achieve significant results within just a couple weeks. As an example, he says that Global4PL helped to train Infinera’s staff on import / export compliance issues; worked with the federal government to get classification codes for Infinera’s products for export; and provided Infinera’s staff with tools that automate the preparation of required paperwork. Global4PL also helped set up Infinera’s freight audit process in a way that has saved both staff time and money on incorrect billing.

Other examples include reducing costs by looking at categories like packaging and method of shipment; and helping Infinera as it enters countries like India, Brazil, Thailand and China, where the Customs clearance processes can be complex.

For Global4PL’s Retamal, the results that his company has achieved for Infinera and other clients are the key to the 4PL’s success – literally. “We’re paid after we get you the savings – not on projected savings, but actual savings, which is not very common in our industry,” Retamal concludes.

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