This Week in Logistics News (July 22-26, 2013)

No time to waste this Friday, so let’s go straight to the news…

On the earnings front, both Manhattan Associates and Ryder reported positive results for the second quarter. Manhattan Associates reported record second quarter total revenue of $102.5 million, up 9.5 percent from Q2 2012. License revenue was $16.1 million (up 5.2 percent from Q2 2012) and diluted earnings per share was $0.96 compared to $0.76 in the second quarter of 2012. The company also raised its GAAP EPS guidance for the year, projecting growth between 20 and 23 percent, up from its previous guidance of 14 to 16 percent.

Here are some comments made by Manhattan CEO Eddie Capel during the earnings call that underscore why the company (and its peers in the supply chain software industry) are so focused on e-commerce and omni-channel retailing (emphasis mine):

We recognized 4 large deals in the quarter, 3 in retail and 1 with an existing large 3PL customer. All 4 deals were principally driven by growing demand in e-commerce.

 

The push many retailers are making to integrate stores into their fulfillment network, use the web more than ever and bring these experiences to the customer on their mobile devices plays well with both our heritage and our future….we’re seeing our customers and prospects seek solutions to expand their execution capabilities from the traditional distribution center across the supply chain and, ultimately, into their retail stores.

 

A meaningful portion of our second quarter WMS and non-WMS license activity was driven by existing and new customer omni-channel initiatives. And we’re pleased with the successes we have achieved over the past year or so, thus validating our product strategy.

[Side note: I had the opportunity to interview Eddie Capel during Manhattan’s Momentum 2013 User Conference back in May where we discussed omni-channel fulfillment and other topics. Click here to watch the interview].

Meanwhile, Ryder reported total revenue of $1.60 billion in Q2 2013, up 3 percent from the same period last year, and comparable EPS from continuing operations increased 15 percent to $1.25. Ryder’s Supply Chain Solutions (SCS) segment was a key contributor to the results. According to the press release, “SCS total revenue increased 5%, driven by higher operating revenue, partially offset by lower subcontracted transportation revenue. SCS operating revenue increased 6% due primarily to new business, especially in dedicated services.”

On the technology front, Oracle introduced this week Oracle In- Memory Logistics Command Center, which provides “the means to perform rapid simulations and what-if analyses of your logistics network using real-world operational data, rules and constraints.” You can review the press release for more details, but this is yet another example of how software vendors are responding to the growing demand from manufacturers and retailers for supply chain and logistics modeling and simulation capabilities (for related commentary, see “Transportation Simulation: Who Needs It?”).

Roadnet Technologies announced the launch of Roadnet Transportation Suite version 3.6.3 that includes “a brand new Routing Activity Tool to easily track and analyze routing performance, the ability to automatically implement drive time restrictions and an iPhone version of the MobileCast Proof of Delivery (POD) app.” Here are some details from the press release:

The new Routing Activity Tool quickly analyzes how much time and how many moves a router has made in a routing session, as well as other key data points that can be leveraged to improve and optimize vehicle routing efficiency.

 

New functionality across Territory Planner, Roadnet and MobileCast eliminates the burden of manually checking hours to ensure compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Version 3.6.3 allows route planners to utilize Roadnet’s powerful routing algorithms to create routes that do not exceed maximum allowable drive time rules, even when a stop is added in planning, routing or dispatching mode.

Although I typically do not comment on awards, I’m making an exception this week and highlighting the announcement by Choice Logistics that it was named to Elearning! Magazine’s list of the top 100 learning organizations in the world. The reason this news caught my attention is that points to one of the four important factors to consider when evaluating 3PL partners that I talked about back in February: investing in talent development and retention. According to the press release:

Choice Logistics formalized its Organizational Development and Training department in 2009 to focus on performance improvement, succession planning and career development for individual employees and to advance the organization as a whole. In 2010, it launched Choice University, an online training platform, as the foundation upon which to deliver global, standardized courses and a framework that supports its commitment to continual improvement in compliance with ISO 9001:2008 standards.

And finally, almost two years ago I wrote a posting with the fictional title “JB Hunt to Hire 500 Robot Drivers by 2014,” that raised the possibility of robots displacing humans in the driver’s seat of trucks and questioning the limits of technology. An article in this week’s Wall Street Journal highlights how those limits keep getting pushed out, with Caterpillar’s use of six automated model 793f mining trucks at an Australian mine as an example. With regards to trucking, here are some interesting excerpts from the article:

Ubiquitous, autonomous trucks are “close to inevitable,” says Ted Scott, director of engineering and safety policy for the American Trucking Associations. “We are going to have a driverless truck because there will be money in it,” adds James Barrett, president of 105-rig Road Scholar Transport Inc. in Scranton, Pa.

 

“Holy s—,” exclaims Kevin Mullen, the safety director at ADS Logistics Co., a 300-truck firm in Chesterton, Ind. “If I didn’t have to deal with drivers, and I could just program a truck and send it?”

 

“There would be no workers’ compensation, no payroll tax, no health-care benefits. You keep going down the checklist and it becomes pretty cheap,” adds Mr. Barrett of Scranton, who says he can’t find enough drivers.

Of course, as I’ve noted in previous postings, there are many legal and other hurdles to overcome before autonomous long-haul trucks become a reality. But it’s no longer such a far-fetched idea.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood



Note: Manhattan Associates and Ryder are Logistics Viewpoints sponsors.

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