Clock Icon - Technology Webflow Template
min read

Streamline Your Electronic Component Logistics: How to Choose the Right 3PL - Part 2

Unpack the important factors to consider when choosing an electronic component 3PL, such as technology, speed, and services.

Do you even need an electronic component 3PL?

If component distributor boxes are starting to pile up in your office or delays with kitting and consigned materials are holding up your PCBA builds, you might be starting to consider whether you should outsource your component inventory management. In my last post, I unpacked how to determine whether now is a good time to start working with an electronic component 3PL. In this article, I’ll dive deep into best practices for selecting an electronic component 3PL to work with.


As your supply chain becomes more complex, particularly if you are manufacturing in a high-mix, regulated industry such as aerospace, defense, medical devices, or robotics, an electronic component third-party logistics provider (3PL) can become an essential part of your manufacturing process. There are many 3PLs in the market, but if you are a high-mix manufacturer, especially in a regulated industry, you may find it difficult to identify the electronic component 3PL that will be the right fit for your needs. Let’s look at some of the factors to consider:

Specialization & Expertise

Many companies offer 3PL services, but it's important to choose a specialized 3PL for handling, storing, and kitting electronic components. These components require special training, facilities, and equipment. Also, the requirements for handling high volumes of the same parts can be different from handling lower volumes of many different parts. For high-mix manufacturers, partnering with an electronic component 3PL specialized in the high-mix process is crucial. Finally, consider the scale of your business when selecting a 3PL, as some 3PLs have a minimum contract size requirement, which may not be a good fit for a growing business.

Technology & Platform

When choosing a 3PL for electronic components, it's important to consider their technology and systems. You want a 3PL that has a modern software system that allows your team to access real-time data on your inventory and to control what happens with your parts. If you use an ERP or MRP system, you might want to check if your 3PL’s system can integrate with your own systems to avoid manual imports and exports. Your 3PL should also have fully automated processes for barcode printing and scanning, lot-level serialization, digital paper trails for compliance documents, and equipment such as X-Ray component counters to ensure accuracy and safety for high-mix, high-reliability manufacturing.


The goal of a 3PL is to speed you up, not slow you down and reduce agility. Ask prospective 3PL partners what their guarantees are for kitting and shipping turnaround times and what the process is for scheduling a kit. Modern, agile 3PLs, such as Cofactr, will give you software to precisely generate kits directly from your BOMs and will split, reel, package, and ship your parts in as little as a few hours.

Quality Control and Compliance

Quality control and compliance are essential factors to consider when selecting a 3PL for electronic components. The 3PL should have robust quality control measures in place to ensure that electronic components are stored and transported in the right conditions. Ask your 3PL about their ESD and environmental control programs and how they ensure parts are properly tracked and maintain their traceability.

Procurement Solutions

Your parts have to get to your 3PL somehow, and working with a 3PL that provides integrated procurement solutions for electronic components can help you reduce your parts spend, increase supply chain efficiency, and avoid production disruptions. It’s also important to understand how your 3PL charges for these services. Maintaining the ability to purchase from every distributor without hidden markups is critical to controlling your electronic part costs, so make sure you ask your 3PL how their procurement pricing works and whether you provide full sourcing transparency.

Additional Services

Every electronic component 3PL should provide services such as:

  • Secure, ESD-safe parts storage
  • Inventory tracking and reporting for your team
  • Kitting and shipping of your parts to your production locations

Additionally, an electronic component 3PL might provide additional services such as:

  • Part quality control, such as anti-counterfeiting inspections
  • Part procurement and supply chain optimization
  • Supply chain data and software to help manage your inventory and procurement
  • Kitting services such as reeling, repackaging, MSL reset bakes, and IC programming
  • Part counting with equipment such as an X-Ray component counter
  • Compliance and traceability tracking and document management
  • Working capital and cashflow management solutions

Keeping those additional services under one roof at your 3PL can increase your speed, reduce costs, and prevent lost parts or other issues.


When selecting an electronic component 3PL, consider whether they specialize in the kinds of solutions you need and the full range of services they provide. Specialized 3PLs with modern software systems, automated processes, and integrated procurement solutions can help high-mix manufacturers in regulated industries manage their inventory and reduce costs.

Matthew Haber

CEO, Co-Founder

Matthew is the CEO and Co-Founder of Cofactr.

Get the get-there platform for electronics