Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (March 12, 2021)

It’s only March, but we already have a winner for “Word of the Year” for 2020: canceled.

Last Friday I wrote about industry conferences getting canceled due to the novel coronavirus, but in just the past few days, almost everything has been canceled or suspended this month: schools, concerts, sports, religious services, and the list goes on.

That’s what I wrote a year ago this week. It’s been a long year, but strangely, it also seems to have gone by quickly too. A year of contradictions.

Looking back, there was no single word to describe 2020. When we remember last year, in the stories we tell, in the memories we share, we each have our own nouns, verbs, and adjectives. You and I string those words together differently, like seashells on a necklace, and wear them into this new year, not canceled, but starting again.

In this week’s supply chain and logistics news…

Money Flows to Supply Chain & Logistics Companies

Although not confirmed by either company, Nikkei Asia reported this week that “Panasonic is set to acquire U.S. software company Blue Yonder, which mainly focuses on supply chain management” for about $6.5 billion. Last year, Panasonic acquired a 20% stake in Blue Yonder, with Blackstone and New Mountain Capital owning the rest. 

According to the article, “multiple sources familiar with the matter confirmed that negotiations are in the final stage, but added that there is still a chance the two sides will not reach an agreement.”

I’ll refrain from commenting about the acquisition until it is officially announced (assuming it happens). However, considering that Panasonic already owns a significant stake in the company, the rumor is certainly within the realm of possibility.

What caught my attention was the valuation: $6.5 billion. A sign of the times, perhaps, as supply chain’s role and importance have grown in recent years, making its star burn brighter in the eyes of investors. 

Speaking of billions, Lineage Logistics, LLC announced it has raised $1.9 billion in equity from new and existing strategic partners. Here are some excerpts from the press release:

A significant portion of the $1.9 billion of new capital will be used to double down on new and disruptive technologies to design the temperature-controlled warehouse of the future. Tapping its award-winning team of data scientists and technologists, the Company is developing widespread algorithmic programming and automation software to streamline its operations and optimize every movement within its warehouses. Lineage – which has 13 patents and a track record of technological innovations – also announced earlier this year the launch of Lineage Link, a fully-integrated customer experience platform which provides unprecedented visibility and collaboration across its customers’ supply chains.

And in related news, as reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, “former Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at UPS Alan Gershenhorn will lead a new logistics-focused special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).” The SPAC, which also includes executives from Walmart and Amazon, plans to invest $400 million in the logistics industry.  

It’s a modern day gold rush.

In Technology News: BluJay Solutions & Kaleris

BluJay Solutions (a Talking Logistics sponsor) announced this week the launch of Augmented Global Trade (AGT) platform, “a multi-tenant SaaS platform that enhances and automates the end-to-end customs and compliance requirements for international trade.” Here’s more from the press release:

BluJay’s Augmented Global Trade platform leverages the company’s innovative “augmented intelligence” to supplement users, making experienced traders even more efficient while giving newer users the tools to be more effective, more quickly.

“Our new Augmented Global Trade platform is designed to augment the user’s input and intelligence, providing actionable customs and compliance workflow with dashboard visibility from a single user experience,” said David Landau, Chief Product Officer at BluJay Solutions. “BluJay’s AGT delivers an advantage for companies looking to digitize and consolidate the typically manual, disconnected processes and multiple systems associated with managing cross-border trade.”

While the Covid pandemic cancelled many things, it didn’t cancel the need to remain compliant with global trade regulations. In fact, when you consider Brexit and the various tariff wars going on, global trade management has only become more risky and complex in the past year. Historically, GTM was near the bottom of the priority list when it came to IT investments. Keeping it there is the riskiest thing companies can do moving forward.

In other news, Kaleris announced “the merger and combined brand for its recent supply chain management software acquisitions. Within Kaleris, the PINC, ShipXpress, and RailcarRx businesses align industry-leading solutions and innovation to a cloud-based Supply Chain Execution platform focused on mission-critical workflow to control and optimize the movement of goods throughout the supply chain.”

As I wrote last year, for many companies, the most important limiting factor in their supply chains today, especially in their logistics operations, is yard management. But the yard doesn’t exist in a vacuum, which is why PINC (via Accel-KKR) acquired ShipXpress and RailcarRX. If the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts, this move by Kaleris is a step in its journey to realize this objective.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Pain Lies On The Riverside” by Live