This Week in Logistics News (April 25 – May 1)

JDA SolutionsI spent the first half of this week at JDA Focus – the company’s annual user conference. It is difficult to capture in one paragraph, the essence of a three day conference consisting of 250 sessions. Nevertheless, that is what I’m going to attempt. JDA is enhancing its product suites to enable users to more holistically optimize their business processes – across time horizons, functional silos, trading partners, and distribution channels.

The company’s integration technology strategy, branded as “Flex,” will support much of its product development plans. This strategy incorporates “smart-ends” that embed the intelligence to manage a broad range of integration requirements. Integrated planning and execution is a key tenet of the Intelligent Fulfillment solution set, offering pre-packaged integrations and cross-functional optimization between TMS, WMS, and Demand and Fulfillment. JDA’s Flowcasting solution takes CPFR to the next level, by allowing trading partners to leverage POS data and co-develop one forecast for the value chain. Lastly, JDA and IBM plan to go live this summer with the integrated offering of IBM’s distribution order management and JDA’s fulfillment capabilities, providing companies with a comprehensive view of orders and fulfillment options.

Now on to the rest of this week’s logistics news:

ND e-fulfiment Process

ND e-fulfiment Process

The big news in logistics this week is XPO Logistics announced acquisition of Norbert Dentressangle (ND) for over $3.5 billion, including debt.  XPO’s CEO has a history of expanding companies through acquisitions. In the press release he was quoted as saying, “The acquisition of Norbert Dentressangle is a major leap forward, but we’re still in the early innings of our long-term growth plan.” I’ll take this to mean additonal acquisitions are on the horizon. XPO plans to leverage the acquisition as a platform for its growth in Europe. A few of the more prominent figures underlying ND’s €5.1 billion in revenue include its Red Online (e-fulfillment) service with €242 million in revenues, €250 million from dedicated carriage, €1 billion in freight brokerage, and 129 million square feet of facility space.

Continuing with the financial aspects of logistics companies, VRL Logistics, an Indian logistics firm with 3418 freight vehicles in its fleet, went public on Thursday and closed with a price 43 percent higher than at its opening.The IPO was oversubscribed by 74x, (7400 percent). This represented the highest IPO subscription level on the exchange in almost eight years. The demand for VRL Logistics stock is stated as “a bet on India’s booming e-commerce sector.”

Fetch Robotics, a start-up robotics company based in San Jose, CA, unveiled its dynamic duo of autonomous robots for logistics, Fetch and Freight. Freight serves as the mobile base that supports 68 kgs, incorporates a 2-D  laser scanner, and is ROS (robotic open-source) enabled. Fetch is the mobile manipulator with a telescoping spine, 3D depth sensor, backdrivable arm, and modular gripper interface. The robots are designed to function alongside human workers. See the video at the bottom of this post for a demonstration.

GDP changeThe BEA reported in its advance estimates that US GDP grew at an anemic rate of 0.2 percent in the first quarter. Results for areas of interest to the logistics sector include the following: investment in equipment increased 0.1 percent; exports decreased 7.2 percent; and imports increased 1.8 percent. The BEA noted the following factors relevant to GDP – The strengthening dollar (decreased exports, increased imports), import and export delays due to labor disputes in key ports (west coast ports), energy price declines, and severe weather experiences across several regions. As a note, many of you may recall that Q1 2014 GDP actually declined, but rebounded the following quarter. It is possible that Q1 2015 is also a transitory slowdown.

Look up in the sky –  It’s a bird, it’s a plane! No, it’s space debris. The Russian Progress vessel that was launched from Kazakahstan on Tuesday to deliver cargo to the international space station was reported by the Russian space agency to be out of its control. Reportedly it may take up to two weeks for the spacecraft to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. You can follow the Progress vessel on Satflare.


This week’s video is a demonstration of Fetch Robotics Dynamic Duo – Fetch and Freight.






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