This Week In Logistics News (July 12 – 18)

Courtesy of WSJ and Daniel Hertzberg

Courtesy of WSJ and Daniel Hertzberg

Earlier this week I read a Wall Street Journal article on a tech-driven revolution in sports, written by Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s general manager most well known as the character played by Brad Pitt in the movie Moneyball. I found the article interesting and I believe it touched on key points in the development of technology and analytics that are equally applicable to the supply chain world. In effect, my view is that the analytics revolution is driven not by a change in calculations (average is still an average, and a standard deviation is still a standard deviation), but by the evolution in supporting factors such as data capture, data availability, calculation speed, and storage capacity. These factors allow practitioners to analyze additional data to support more robust decision making. I will write a Logistics Viewpoints post on this subject in the near future to further discuss how analytics is changing in the supply chain world.

And now on to the news…

Zombie Zero, that’s what they’re calling the malware attack. Security vendor TrapX recently discovered malware-infected scanners sold by a Chinese manufacturer. The scanners captured data typical of their use in the supply chain – origin, destination, and content of shipments. But then, according to the article:

Once the scanner was connected to the network, the malware would first find a way through the firewall and then look for, and compromise, servers with the word “finance” in their host name. This was done until the malware infected the ERP server…Stage two of the attack involved the download of stand-by malware in the scanner that established a connection between the ERP server and a Chinese command-and-control botnet traced to the Lanxiang Vocational School located in Shandong Province, China….Stage three of the attack involved installing additional malware from the botnet that established a more sophisticated connection with a second botnet that ended at an undetermined location in Beijing.

Also very interesting, especially I would believe to ARC Advisory Group’s automation clients, TrapX subsequently found variants of the Zombie Zero malware in two manufacturers’ industrial control systems. Big Brother is Everywhere!!

HighJump Software has been busy lately. Earlier this month HighJump announced its agreement to merge with Accellos. Both companies offer WMS solutions with product portfolios and customer bases that are very complementary to each other.  HighJump’s WMS client base is mostly mid-size to large customers with fairly complex warehouse operations, whereas Accellos has predominantly focused on small to mid-size companies. Also, HighJump’s TrueCommerce EDI has focused on smaller companies that are potential candidates for the Accellos WMS offering. In addition, HighJump announced earlier this week that it has acquired Atlas Products International, a UK-based provider of business-to-business (B2B) EDI integration. This further extends the company’s network solutions offering.  Finally, Accellos also brings a TMS solution, direct store delivery, and retail applications to the deal.

Transportation Topics reported that the US Federal Reserve Bank stated that the US economy continued to expand moderately in most of the country from May to early July, with with rising demand for trucking and rail services.  The Richmond, VA district reported strong growth in port container traffic reflecing increases in imports and exports; Philadelphia noted strong demand for trucking; and several regions noted a shortage of truck drivers.

Alibaba remained in the news this week. On Thursday, Alibaba decided to push back its IPO until after Labor Day weekend (last weekend in August). The Wall Street Journal reports that the IPO could raise more than $20 billion. Previously on Logistics Viewpoints, my colleague Steve Banker discussed Alibaba’s business model and the company’s logistics capabilities as outlined in its IPO filing.  Earlier today, Alibaba announced a further expansion of its logistics capabilities by partnering Correios, Brazil’s state-owned postal services company. A Wall Street Journal blog post further states:

The partnership with Correios is an attempt to make more Brazilian businesses aware of Alibaba’s services. From the Brazilian government’s perspective, Alibaba could provide local businesses with better access to China’s vast consumer market. Alibaba said it will work with Correios to improve the logistics procedures between Brazil and China, without providing details.

Have a great weekend!

This week’s video, Centerfield by John Fogarty