Time to hit pause on the new Florence + The Machine album, which I can’t seem to get enough of these past few days (check out the video for new single here), to report on this week’s news.
- Descartes Acquires InterCommIT
- Con-way Inc. Reports 2011 Third Quarter Results
- C.H. Robinson’s Mobile Application Enhances Motor Carrier Communication
- INTTRA Empowers Ocean Carrier and Shipper Community with Actionable Performance Measurements from New OceanMetrics™ Platform
- UPS Freight Takes the Guesswork Out of LTL Pickups
- August 2011 Surface Trade with Canada and Mexico Rose 18.3 Percent from August 2010
- Trucking news: FMCSA delays proposed final rule for Hours-of-Service (from Logistics Management)
- Fed lowers GDP forecast, mulls more action (from Reuters)
- October 2011 Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®
As another sign that B2B connectivity is becoming more important, Descartes Systems Group announced that it is acquiring InterCommIT, “a leading Netherlands-based provider of business-to-business (B2B) integration-as-a-service,” for about $13.8 million. This follows SAP’s acquisition of Crossgate back in September, Highjump’s acquisition of TrueCommerce in September 2010, and IBM’s acquisition of Sterling Commerce in May 2010. InterCommIT basically extends the capabilities and geographic reach of Descartes’ existing “Global Logistics Network,” which the company has built through several acquisitions over the years. Here is how Edward Ryan, Chief Commercial Officer at Descartes, described the value of the acquisition in the press release:
“By adding InterCommIT’s technology and services to our Logistics Technology Platform, our customers have access to a broader scale and scope of document-critical functionalities that are key to efficient supply chain and logistics operations. In particular, InterCommIT expands Descartes’ network capabilities, enhances our logistics application footprint in Web EDI, e-invoicing, e-document, and e-catalogue solutions, and adds a large number of European retailers and suppliers to our logistics community.”
Since I’ve commented extensively on B2B connectivity in my previous postings, I won’t repeat myself here, other than to restate why I believe B2B connectivity is “coming out of the shadows”: Companies are recognizing that software is not enough. You can have the most functionally-rich software applications within your four walls, but without an adequate B2B connectivity network and associated capabilities, you can’t effectively manage end-to-end supply chain processes.
Speaking of the value of a connectivity network, INTTRA announced this week OceanMetrics, a business intelligence platform that provides “actionable ocean shipment performance intelligence based on actual carrier and shipper transactions [over 2 million per month] processed on the INTTRA e-commerce platform.” In a nutshell, this is another example of how network data is helping to resolve “The Missing Link in Transportation Business Intelligence.”
Con-way reported positive financial results for Q3 2011 compared to the year-ago period. A couple of highlights:
- Truckload revenue increased 12.8 percent, “reflecting the positive effects of higher fuel surcharges and improved revenue per loaded mile.” The company also reduced empty miles to 9.5 percent of total miles compared to 10.8 percent in the previous-year third quarter. Douglas W. Stotlar, Con-way’s president and CEO, noted that “Overall market demand [for truckload] has been steady and some regions are becoming capacity constrained [emphasis mine].”
- Revenue from its Menlo Worldwide Logistics division increased 12.7 percent from the prior year third-quarter, due to increased revenue in both transportation management and warehouse management services. Stotlar commented, “We were encouraged as demand for high-value contract logistics and supply chain management services continued to gain traction.”
I’ve commented in the past that 3PLs and transportation companies often get a bad rap when it comes to technology sophistication (see “3PLs and the IT Gap: Perception or Reality?”). But in the areas of mobile and social media, some logistics companies are actually out in front of the pack (see “The iPhone as a Logistics Visibility Device” and here). This week’s announcement by CH Robinson is another example. The company launched its CHRWtrucks.com mobile application that “allows a motor carrier to enter pick up information, check calls, and delivery information within a couple clicks as information is populated by location services on the smartphone which reduces guesswork and typing. Additionally, carriers can post empty equipment locations where C.H. Robinson employees can look for load matches to help fill those empty trucks and reduce empty miles.”
(Side note: Steve Banker attended TMC’s Client Forum earlier this week in Chicago, which more than 30 clients also attended. Steve will share his takeaways from the event in a future posting).
The jury is still out on Hours of Service. The October 28th deadline for publishing the final hours-of-service rule came and went, with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issuing a statement saying that it “will continue to work toward publishing a final rule as quickly as possible. The parties to the settlement agreement will file their next status update with the court on November 28, 2011.” Hard to know if the delay is good news or bad news for opponents of the proposed changes. Stay tuned…and stay vocal if you have an opinion or stake in the matter.
Finally, if you’re still working on your outlook for next year (which, in reality, is a moving target), the Federal Reserve cut its GDP forecast for next year. According to a Reuters report, “[The Federal Reserve] now expects the [US] economy to grow by a tepid 2.5 percent to 2.9 percent next year, down from the rosier 3.3 percent to 3.7 percent they were expecting in June, with inflation muted over the forecast horizon. They see the unemployment rate going no lower than 8.5 percent to 8.7 percent by the end of 2012, up from the more sanguine 7.8 percent to 8.2 percent range envisioned in June.”
Now, back to Florence.
(Note: Descartes Systems Group, Con-way, and CH Robinson are ARC clients).