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What is a logistics operator? The role of a logistics operator is to help companies with transportation, storage, shipment, and distribution of goods directly from the seller to the buyer. In order to do this access to all technological infrastructure and information systems necessary must be developed.

Virtually all industries rely on logisticians to make sure the right goods get to the correct destination, on time. Working behind the scenes the logistics operator will use communication skills and project management software to coordinate, negotiate, and broker deals between suppliers and customers.

A great deal of time is spent anticipating problems that can happen during ordering, inventory control, warehousing, shipping, and delivery. At times the job can become stressful as supply chain disruptions can delay deliveries, and volatile global markets can quickly affect process and production.

Principal types

Logistics operator functions are many, but the main job is to optimise the processes of acquiring, storing, transporting, and distributing goods in the most efficient way. See a breakdown of the main types of logistics operators here…

  • First party logistics (1PL) – a primary logistics operator will simply take care of the transportation of customer goods.
  • Second party logistics (2PL) – a secondary logistic operator will manage the transporting and storage of goods for as long as is necessary.
  • Third party logistics (3PL) – a tertiary logistics operator will assume more responsibilities including the management and control of the warehouse.
  • Fourth party logistics (4PL) – a quaternary logistics operator will focus on supervising and validating the work done by 3PL operators to make any necessary improvements and optimisations. Learn more about the difference between 3PL and 4PL logistics operators.
  • Fifth party logistics (5PL) – quinary logistics operators are the most experienced professionals and have the capacity to assume all functions of the 3PL’s and the 4PL’s resulting in complete integration.

Main functions

The areas in which the logistics operators specialise include:

Data and order processing

This covers all activities relating to the preparation, communication, collection, entry, and reports on order status. Providing alternatives for the management of documentation will also be addressed. Additional functions include inventory control and consultancy.

Handling and storage

The tasks of handling packages, weighing and classification are part of the processing that guarantees the movement of products from one place to another. Control and management at this stage are essential to ensure materials are delivered to the right place at the right time.

The best transport systems must be operated that suit company needs, and proper storage facilities made available as required. Well-known logistics centres will facilitate the logistics management of the goods.


In order to prevent damage during transportation, the logistics operator must take into account the fragile or perishable nature of the goods. Temperatures and climatic conditions during transportation must be assessed, and whether goods will need to undergo customs inspections as the packaging may need to be opened.

The vale of the cargo for insurance purposes, the languages of origin and destination, and the means of transport will all affect the method of packing.


This critical phase of transportation is determined by the distance and the deadlines of the deliveries. Air, sea freight or land transportation will be factored into the equation to analyse the most advisable and effective mode of transport, with the minimum cost outlay.

Differences between a freight forwarder and a logistics operator

A freight forwarder will act as an agent to outsource the majority of the shipping – this is an intermediary role between the seller and the transport companies. The main tasks here are the evaluation of the costs, the service possibilities, and the movement of goods from the origin to the final point of destination.

The freight forwarder will therefore organise the shipment of goods after negotiating the terms of carriage with the carriers, book cargo space, and make any necessary payments. All customs clearance procedures, transport documents and insurance paperwork will also be taken care of.

Fourth Party Logistics (4PL) explained in more detail

A logistics operator 4PL will have been outsourced by a client. On behalf of that client, the logistics operator will manage the supply chain by overseeing the combination of warehousing, shipping companies, freight forwarders, and agents.

This service is suitable for medium to large size businesses, with a single point of contact for all operations. Activities within the supply chain network will be managed by advancing the sourcing and measuring integrated supply chain solutions.

Need a logistics operator in Barcelona?

DRG Solutions can help with any international shipping from Barcelona. Storage solutions and warehousing are just two of the services provided to facilitate the distribution of your goods. Storage logistics will fit perfectly with other logistics solutions that will be set up for you. Multimodal transport options will be available from many transport companies. And the most suitable services will be handpicked on your behalf from this Fourth Party logistics and consultancy provider.