This Week in Logistics News (August 26-30, 2013)

This was a relatively quiet week for news, and I suspect many of you are taking off early today to enjoy the long holiday weekend, which unofficially marks the end of summer. So, without delay, here is the news that caught my attention this week:

Qualcomm is selling its Omnitracs subsidiary to Vista Equity Partners for $800 million in cash. Here is a quote by Derek Aberle, executive vice president and group president at Qualcomm:

“In the late 1980’s, Qualcomm pioneered the use of commercial vehicle telematics with the introduction of the first mobile information system for transportation and logistics. As one of Qualcomm’s earliest businesses, Omintracs has maintained a leadership position within the industry for 25 years. Today, the opportunity for fleet management and telematics is evolving rapidly, and we believe Omnitracs is well positioned to continue its leadership position as a stand-alone entity.”

The opportunity for fleet management and telematics is certainly evolving rapidly, but the competitive landscape and scope of solutions are very different today than in the late 80s, especially as GPS-enabled smartphones and other devices have become nearly ubiquitous. In the early days, Omnitracs owned the top end of the market, but everybody else was left on the sidelines because the technology was simply too expensive to deploy. Today, there is a much broader spectrum of solutions available in the market, from the simple and affordable to the most sophisticated and costly.

In other technology news, Kewill announced the release of mobile applications for its Kewill Logistics software. According to the press release:

The iOS and Android applications allow drivers to instantly log in to their company’s Kewill Logistics operating system, retrieve a list of trips to be made, and send back the status of each stage of the trip directly from standard touch-screen smartphones or tablets. This helps logistics organizations easily communicate with drivers, provide instructions in real-time and keep customers informed on shipment progress, without investing in separate software or hardware. Furthermore, it extends the reach of the Logistics operation to 3rd party transport providers by allowing them to connect without having to be on the LSP’s networks, systems or investing in additional hardware.

Meanwhile, LLamasoft announced a partnership to offer ALK’s PC*MILER routing, mileage and mapping software solution to its customers. According to the press release, “The partnership with ALK provides LLamasoft Supply Chain Guru and LLamasoft Transportation Guru customers an industry-recognized means to accurately calculate distance and transit times for all global regions, as well as determine geocoding and detailed road routes.”

Finally, according to the the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, $93.5 billion of freight moved in June 2013 between the United States and its NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico. This is a 0.8 percent decline from June 2012. The value of freight moved by all modes decreased in June 2013 compared to the previous year, except for rail, which increased 0.7 percent. Overall for the year, the value of freight moved between the U.S. and its NAFTA partners is up 1.1 percent — much lower than the 2011-2012 year-to-date increase of 7.7 percent.


In short, trade between the U.S. and its NAFTA partners has flatlined over the past 12 months. Cause for concern?

And with that, have a safe and happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “A Question of Time” by Depeche Mode