This Week in Logistics News (November 14 – 20)

conveyorEarlier this week I received an inquiry from Modern Materials Handling (MMH) to discuss my perspective on the warehouse control systems (WCS) market. In particular, the MMH author was researching perspectives on the evolution of WCS into what is increasingly being referred to as warehouse execution systems (WES). WES are comprehensive WCS that coordinate and control disparate automation across the facility, while also providing real-time performance analysis and adaptability, and possibly additional functionality typically associated with WMS. This inquiry was very timely, as the next day Dematic announced its agreement to acquire Reddwerks, a WES provider. It’s an interesting acquisition because Reddwerks is a small firm with a limited client base compared to Dematic’s. So, it is my impression that Dematic is acquiring Reddwerks primarily for its WES (as opposed to client base, implementation capabilities, etc). My research on the warehouse automation & control market has shown that warehouse control systems, and execution software in general, is the primary means by which warehouse automation vendors are differentiating themselves in today’s market.

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

Dematic announced its agreement to acquire Reddwerks, a provider of warehouse execution systems (WES). Dematic stated that the acquisition will enhance its existing software suite. As I stated above in the introduction, software is increasingly becoming an important source of differentiation for warehouse automation providers. In addition, Dematic pointed out the requirement for today’s supply chains to be agile and responsive. Many warehouse control/ warehouse execution systems are evolving from a material flow system into a more holistic system that enables real-time adaptation to changing operational requirements.

European industrial property is expected to deliver 20 percent in total returns to investors this year, according to an article in, quoting research by Colliers. The property price appreciation is being driven by e-commerce distribution demand for both large regional e-commerce DCs and smaller facilities that fulfill same day and next day deliveries. It appears to me that the growth in ecommerce, at the expense of traditional brick and mortal stores, is increasing demand for warehouse space while decreasing demand for retail space. This presents an additional case for omni-channel in the form of using of retail stores for fulfillment of same day deliveries.

Royal Mail acquired a same day delivery company named eCourier. Although it is a small acquisition, it is a representative step in the wide-reaching trend of increased demand for express parcel delivery services driven by the e-commerce boom. Royal Mail was already present in the parcel market with its Royal Mail Sameday service, but the eCourier acquisition expands its presence in the London metropolitan area. Royal Mail recently reported that its letter volume decreased by 4 percent, while its parcel volume increased by 4 percent. These trends and the predicament of mail services is addressed in a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) provision that I discussed in last week’s blog about the trade deal. In particular, the provision promotes competition among parcel carriers and discourages state mail monopolies from subsidizing parcel operations.

Continuous supply chain visibility through satellite communications, cloud applications, big data, and the internet of things? (Did I miss any buzz words?) That’s what Ericsson is going to offer by incoporating Inmarsat’s XpressLink service into its Maritime ICT Cloud offering to maritime shipping vessels. Maritime ICT  Cloud connects vessels at sea with land-based operations such as port authorities and land transportation partners.  Inmarsat XpressLink is a satellite high-speed Fleet broadband service that also offers a map-based vessel tracking interface.

Telematics adoption has expanded exponentially due to the ubiquitous mobile connectivity offered by cellular networks and the low costs enabled by smartphones. UPS Singapore is among the latest of fleets to adopt the technology and is the first UPS market in Asia to use telematics in this way. The system works in conjunction with a handheld device used by the UPS drivers, and also integrates and communicates sensor data from the trucks that monitor vehicle information such as speed, idle time, and changes in direction.

Have a great weekend. This week’s video is of turkeys in Texas playing soccer. Have fun!






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