This Week in Logistics News (February 25 – March 1, 2013)

The appliance repair guy showed up this morning to confirm what I already suspected: my refrigerator is on life support and will soon die. My five year old daughter burst out crying, not because buying a new fridge is certainly not in the budget right now (which is the reason I almost burst out crying), but because “I love that fridge!” and doesn’t want us to get a new one. She roamed the house crying in her pajamas as if the family pet had died. But after I told her the new fridge will be just like the old one, and that we will put all of the magnets and pictures back on the doors in the same places they are now, she eventually calmed down, got dressed, and went to school.

This is going to be a long (and costly) weekend.

In more relevant news…

SAP made two announcements this week related to supply chain and logistics. First, the company announced that it plans to acquire SmartOps, a provider of inventory and service-level optimization software solutions. Here are some excerpts from the press release:

SmartOps has developed large-scale, “stochastic” algorithms that take the uncertainty and risk out of SCM processes. These algorithms use predictive analytics to help manage global distribution networks and vast, multi-stage supply chains. Such solutions would be significantly enhanced by SAP HANA, allowing for processing of high volumes of data in real time.

 

SmartOps’ existing Inventory Optimization Suite will complement and expand sales and operations planning solutions based on SAP HANA, enabling a “real-time supply chain” solution to be built on SAP HANA. It also adds to the SAP portfolio of multi-stage inventory optimization solutions that global businesses need today.

 

SmartOps’ new Enterprise Demand Sensing cloud-based analytics solution will enhance SAP Demand Signal Management, enabling customers to predictively and accurately manage their supply chain based on real-time demand and changing customer needs.

SAP also announced the general availability of the 9.0 version of the SAP Transportation Management (SAP TM) application. According to the press release, benefits of the new release include “improved ocean and new air freight management, superior manual and automated transportation planning, cost distribution, and additional transportation management analytics and reports.”

The news from SAP this week raises two questions for me:

  • Does the “ERP vs. Best-of-Breed” debate make sense any more now that SAP, Oracle, and other “ERP” vendors have in recent years abandoned their build-everything-in-house strategy and have acquired numerous best-of-breed software vendors?
  • And now that SAP has enhanced the functionality of its TMS solution (which the company opted to develop internally years ago instead of acquiring a best-of-breed vendor), will the company take the next step and offer (develop?) a network-based, software-as-a-service solution?

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, Canada and Mexico, totaled $71.9 billion in December 2012, a 3.2 percent decrease compared to December 2011. For the year as a whole, however, NAFTA trade was up 6.2 percent in 2012 compared to 2011.

On the Hours of Service front, the FMCSA rejected a request by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) to delay the effective compliance date until three months after a pending federal court decision on the regulation. As it stands, the effective compliance date remains July 1, 2013. You can read the Logistics Management article referenced above for all the details, as well as my posting from January, “Clock Ticking on Hours of Service (and Other Trucking Risks).”

Finally, considering that so many enterprise and supply chain software applications are Java-based, the recently discovered and exploited security holes in Java is cause for concern. According to a Financial Times article, “The vulnerabilities in Java, which is included in most personal computer and smartphone browsers, has left its owner, Oracle, racing to plug what have come to be seen as the biggest holes in the defences of personal computers and smartphones amid a rising tide of cyber attacks.”

Okay, time to shop for a new fridge. Have a great weekend!

Song of the Week: “Sleep Alone” by Two Door Cinema Club

(Note: SAP is a Logistics Viewpoints sponsor).