Third-party logistics providers (3PLs) are gaining a growing share of American manufacturers' total logistics operating budgets, a new study shows. According to the study, American manufacturers allocated 40% of their logistics operating budgets in 2003 to 3PLs, compared with between 19% and 30% in the prior four years. Additionally, 80% of American manufacturers said they used third-party logistics services in both domestic and international operations, compared with 69% in the previous year's study. The study was released by global consulting firm Accenture and Northeastern University, Boston. It is based on survey results from two groups: Sixty chief logistics executives from among the 500 largest manufacturers in the United States and 48 CEOs of the top third-party logistics providers. "By extending their supply chains across countries and sometimes continents, manufacturers have developed new requirements such as import processing, international freight forwarding, customs brokerage and de-consolidation facilities at U.S. ports," says Robert Lieb, a professor in Northeastern University's College of Business Administration. "Third-party logistics providers are well-positioned to provide these capabilities."