Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (March 5, 2021)

It’s one of those Friday mornings: I’m trying to think, but nothing happens!

So, I’ll just move on.

Here’s the supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention this week: 

Descartes and project44 Acquisitions

There is one constant in the supply chain and logistics software space: the ongoing pursuit by vendors to expand their solution footprints and value propositions. There is the internal R&D path to get there, but if that path looks too long or costly, the quicker way is to acquire the desired capabilities (and the talented people that come along with it). 

There were two notable acquisitions this week. First, Descartes Systems Group (a Talking Logistics sponsor) announced that it has acquired QuestaWeb, a leading provider of foreign trade zone (FTZ) and customs compliance solutions. Here are some details from the press release:

Headquartered in the US, QuestaWeb provides cloud-based customs and regulatory compliance solutions. QuestaWeb’s market leading FTZ solution allows logistics services providers (LSPs) and importers to automate processes and comply with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulatory requirements for operating a foreign trade zone in the US. The FTZ solution can be operated as a standalone module or as part of the company’s wider platform that helps importers and LSPs manage the lifecycle of shipments. 

Utilizing foreign trade zones, as well as duty drawbacks, has become more important in recent years as tariffs have increased and new ones implemented (e.g., China – US trade war). But setting up a FTZ and complying with its associated requirements is complex, which is where solutions like QuestaWeb come in. For Descartes, this solution adds to its portfolio of customs and regulatory compliance capabilities, which the company has grown via multiple acquisitions over the years. 

Also this week, project44 announced that it has acquired Ocean Insights, a solutions provider for ocean freight intelligence. Here are some details from the press release:

Headquartered in Germany and founded in 2012, Ocean Insights pioneered ocean freight visibility by combining carrier data, live vessel tracking and sailing schedule data in one data-rich platform. Tracking 350,000 containers daily, Ocean Insights provides track and trace functionality across the vast majority of shipping lines, 700 seaports, and more than 5,000 vessels as well as handling over five million sailing schedule changes per day. 

Ocean Insights customers include International Food Group (Sysco), Pernod Ricard, FourKites and other leading enterprises in automotive, manufacturing, food & beverage, commodity trading, chemical and freight forwarding. Many already leverage both Ocean Insights and project44 such as DB Schenker, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, Kuehne + Nagel, Lenovo, and Mondi Group. 

The quest for ocean shipment execution and visibility started long ago, with the likes of GT Nexus (acquired by Infor in August 2015 for $675 million) and Inttra (acquired by E2open in October 2018). This is another case where acquiring the network and associated visibility was arguably faster and cheaper than building it yourself, and where (in project44’s estimation) owning the network was strategically more important than partnering with it. 

Of course, when it comes to ocean visibility, the answer to “Where’s my container?” these days is probably “It’s sitting off the coast of Long Beach.”

And with that, I’ve drained my thinking for the day. Have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Fire For You” by Cannons