Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana, Mississippi, and elsewhere who are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac. And a big thanks to the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) and other relief groups who have mobilized to help.
In other news this week…
- Trimble to Acquire North American Trucking Industry Enterprise Software Leader TMW Systems
- Infor Delivers Infor VISUAL for Multi-Site Organizations
- Oracle Upgrades Analytics in Oracle Retail Data Model
- Largest ILA local votes to strike if deal not sealed before Sept. 30 (Cargo Business News)
- FMCSA Sharpens Focus on High Risk Truck and Bus Companies with Improvements to Compliance Safety Accountability Program
- June 2012 Surface Trade with Canada and Mexico Rose 6.6 Percent From June 2011
- G7 urges higher oil output, warns on reserves (Reuters)
- The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® Declines in August. Now at Lowest Level since November 2011
- Retailers fare well in August, sales beat estimates (Reuters)
- U.S. Army and Con-way Truckload Partner in Recruiting Program
- WTO updates world trade data in WTO Statistics Database
Through various acquisitions in recent years, TMW Systems had become one of the largest providers of enterprise software to the trucking industry. This week the company announced that it is being acquired by Trimble, a leading provider of GPS and other positioning technologies, for $335 million in cash (TMW’s trailing 12-month revenue is about $96 million). According to the press release, “TMW’s enterprise software currently integrates with Trimble’s T&L solutions on many fleets and when combined will jointly serve more than 3,000 fleets around the world.”
GPS and positioning technologies — and, more broadly, mobile resource management solutions — are more important than ever for trucking companies and fleet operators. Why acquire TMW instead of continue partnering with them? I haven’t spoken to anyone at either company yet, but this deal follows the general “vertical integration” trend occurring in the tech industry these days (see Amazon acquiring Kiva Systems, Google buying Motorola Mobility, Microsoft building its own tablet). Simply put, in my opinion, it’s about owning and controlling the innovation cycle of what these technologies can do together. We’ll learn more after TMW’s upcoming user conference.
In other technology news, Infor announced the availability of Infor VISUAL for multi entity/multi-site operations. Here are some excerpts from the press release:
Infor VISUAL aids companies in streamlining operations across all existing business units and sites, helping to eliminate siloed data and more tightly integrating financial, inventory and manufacturing activities throughout the enterprise.
The new multi-site capabilities of Infor VISUAL will help companies to consolidate on one database and maintain accurate accounting records and financial statements for each entity or location, while rolling up the information to the parent company or site for enterprise-wide reports. In addition, master data can be shared across the enterprise to control inventory, WIP, planning, scheduling, and costing for those sites from a single, centralized location.
The value of Infor VISUAL, and other solutions like it, is critically dependent on something most companies still struggle with: having and maintaining timely, accurate, and complete data/information. And the challenge is only getting harder, as the amount of data and information generated by companies and their trading partners continues to grow exponentially, and everyone has a different opinion of who owns the data quality problem.
Meanwhile, Oracle announced enhancements to its Oracle Retail Data Model. As stated in the press release, “The latest version of the product incorporates several new forecasting features that provide retailers with actionable insight regarding price elasticity, workforce optimization, customer sentiment, customer segmentation….In addition to its existing capabilities for grocery, fashion, hardline and more, the latest release includes functionality to deliver insight into Quick serve restaurants and fine dining, Consumer goods, Wholesale and private label, Multi-channel, and Franchise control.”
The risk of a port strike intensified this week, “as members of the Newark-based Local 1804 of the International Longshoremen’s Association voted to strike if a new master contract covering ports from Canada to Texas has not been reached by Sept. 30, when the current deal expires,” according to an article published by NJ.com. Local 1804 has 900 members, and it’s the union’s largest local. Bottom line: If you haven’t made contingency plans by now, the clock is quickly running out.
When it comes to CSA, there is no shortage of activity and discussions these days. Last Friday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced “several new improvements to its Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) enforcement program that will enable it to more quickly identify and address high-risk truck and bus companies with compliance concerns.” You can read the press release for all the details, but here are a couple of the changes:
- Changing the Fatigued Driving BASIC to the more specific Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC to more accurately reflect violations in this area; and weighting HOS paper and electronic logbook violations equally.
- Removing 1 to 5 mph speeding violations to ensure citations are consistent with current speedometer regulations.
Back in April, we published a guest commentary by Kevin O’Meara focused on “the greatest talent pool available – America’s veterans.” Shortly after, Ryder launched a new military recruiting website to help veterans easily match their military skills with open positions at Ryder. And this week Con-way announced a partnership with the US Army where “enlistees interested in gaining specific job training and qualifications will receive that training during their military service. Upon completion of their military service, soldiers who expressed an interest in working for Con-way Truckload will receive a job interview if openings exist in their field of interest.” It’s great to see the logistics community making an effort to provide jobs to the men and women who sacrifice so much for our freedom.
And on that note, I wish you a happy and safe holiday weekend. It’s the unofficial end of summer and I woke up this morning with INXS in my head, so here you go, this week’s song, “New Sensation.”
(Note: Con-way, Infor, Oracle, and Ryder are ARC clients and/or Logistics Viewpoints sponsors)