Review of Pharmaceutical Sea Freight and Malaysian Third-Party Logistics Service Providers—A Supply Chain Perspective

  • Wai-Peng WongEmail author
  • Keng-Lin Soh
Part of the Lecture Notes in Logistics book series (LNLO)


Logistics is the backbone of trade because it integrates the supply chain for trade facilitation of all businesses including pharmaceuticals. The objective of this article is to review pharmaceutical ocean logistics trends and issues, and four Malaysian third-party logistics (3PL) research publications consisting of service quality, cost and service differentiation, integration and information system of freight-forwarding and container freight. The publication review is to ascertain if third-party logistics are potentially capable of supporting ocean pharma non-cold chain freight to pre-empt medicine shortages and identify challenges of the logistics supply chain. The research showed logistics service quality impacts customers’ satisfaction, low costs and service differentiation influence firms’ sustainable financial competitiveness, integration of depot and hauliers enhances national logistics performance, information system affects supply chain integration (SCI), and SCI affects operational and environmental performance. These studies involved third-party logistics service providers (LSP) along the supply chain which were freight-forwarding companies and their customers, and the container depots and hauliers. The review provides research evidence of logistics service quality potentially capable of meeting the requirements of conventional ocean-going non-cold chain pharma container freight as featured in professional logistics publications. Medicine shortages attributed to freight forwarders are unlikely noting their agility and robustness in the face of economic uncertainties. They are agile enough to manage factors internal and external to the firms. The research also provides suggestions to the SCI challenges confronting the conventional ocean container freight supply chain at the depot-haulier interface to forestall delays. This article reviews relate to research investigations of 3PL in Malaysia, a country sitting in the heart of Southeast Asia.


Pharmaceutical sea freight Malaysia Third-party logistics 3PL Logistics Southeast Asia 

List of Abbreviations


Availability of Alternatives


Average Variance Extracted


Cross Functional Application Integration


Composite Reliability


Data Consistency


Environmental Performance


Functional logistics service quality


Gross Domestic Product


Heterotrait-monotrait ratio of correlations


Integration factors between Depots and Hauliers


Information Integration


Information System


Logistics Performance Index


Logistics Service Providers


Logistics Service Quality


Market-based View


Operational Efficiency


Operational Integration


Organizational Performance


Physical Distribution Service Quality


Resource-based View




Supply Complexity


Supply Chain Integration


Supply Dynamism


Supply Environment


Supply Importance


Service Quality of Depot


Technical logistics service quality


Third Party Logistics



The first author would like to thank COST Action CA15105, European Medicines Shortages Research Network, addressing supply problems to patients (Medicines Shortages). Further thanks are extended to the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, British Academy and Newton-Ungku Omar Fund (grant number 304/PMGT/650912/B130 and 304/PMGT/6316295) to complete this research project.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementUniversiti Sains MalaysiaUSMMalaysia
  2. 2.INTI Penang International CollegeBayan LepasMalaysia

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