This Week in Logistics News (September 16-20, 2013)

“Half the countries in the world have an even number of chickens.” I wrote those words on a sticky note back in college, which I found in a memory box recently. I have no idea what it means, or what I was thinking at the time, but if I went through the trouble of saving the note, it must be important, right?

In more relevant news…

China remains an important focus for supply chain and logistics technology providers, as evidenced by this week’s announcements by Amber Road and Kewill. First, Amber Road announced that it has acquired EasyCargo, “a cloud-based solutions company with a specific focus on a subset of global trade management called China Trade Management, or CTM.” Here are some details from the press release:

EasyCargo’s CTM solution provides extensive automation to support the Chinese government’s regulations for an import regime called Processing Trade.

 

Processing Trade affects companies that import materials and components into China and use those materials and components to manufacture finished goods for export to foreign markets. When properly administered, Processing Trade transactions are exempt from import duties and value-added-taxes on export.

 

Because Processing Trade can reduce product costs by 25 percent or more, qualifying goods for the program has become increasingly popular. Goods qualifying for the Processing Trade program now account for more than 30 percent of all Chinese imports.

Meanwhile, Kewill and CarrierWeb announced that they are collaborating to develop the Transportation Management System (TMS) market in China. According to the press release, the companies plan “to penetrate the China TMS market aggressively by offering a wider range of mobile-enabled solutions to empower customers with real-time, anywhere, anytime access to updates and monitoring to drive greater efficiency and productivity across their logistics and transportation operations.”

Penetrating the China market has been a long journey for software vendors, with varying degrees of success. I remember when I visited China in 2005 and I met with the CEO of a leading logistics service provider. When I asked him how he planned to scale his business in the face of growing demand, he replied, without hesitation,“We’ll just add more people.” In other words, at the time, adding people was the fastest, cheapest way for Chinese companies to scale their operations, not investing in technology. Today, with labor rates significantly higher and weaker economic growth, investing in technology is becoming the smarter choice.

More evidence that Supply Chain Operating Networks are on the rise: Accellos and SPS Commerce announced that they have partnered “to deliver a fully integrated, turnkey supply chain management solution for the Microsoft Dynamics® GP market.” According to the press release, the enterprise cloud service enables “suppliers to seamlessly connect with more than 50,000 supply chain partners including retailers, distributors, vendors and logistics providers through a single connection from their Microsoft Dynamics® GP system to SPS’s Universal Network.” Here’s a customer testimonial from the press release:

“SOG needed to integrate every trading partner in our supply chain with our Microsoft Dynamics® GP system to support our substantial growth,” said Nando Zucchi, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, SOG Specialty Knives & Tools. “With SPS and Accellos, we seamlessly automated our trading relationships with major drop-ship and traditional retailers including Amazon.com, Costco.com, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Wal-Mart and others within a few short weeks. This holiday season we will automate 1,750 transactions each week, saving our staff more than 60 hours of data entry every week. We are delighted by the solution and expertise provided by SPS and Accellos.”

In other technology news, Oracle has released Oracle E-Business Suite 12.2, which includes several supply chain management enhancements. Oracle Warehouse Management, for example, now has “streamlined mobile user interfaces, enhanced managerial workbenches, improved catch-weight functionality and better extensibility supports greater fulfillment flexibility.”

And finally, add Tesla to the list of companies working on self-driving cars. Here are some excerpts from the Financial Times article:

“We should be able to do 90 per cent of miles driven within three years,” [said Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO]. Mr Musk would not reveal further details of Tesla’s autonomy project, but said it was “internal development” rather than technology being supplied by another company. “It’s not speculation,” he said.

 

[Mr. Musk said] that Tesla was working on a plan that would allow drivers to turn on a form of “auto-pilot” in most situations that would allow the vehicle to take over control.

The future keeps coming faster and faster.

Have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “You & I” by Crystal Fighters