The Supply Chain Matters blog features our May 10, 2019 Edition of This Week in Supply Chain Management Tech, a brief synopsis of noteworthy supply chain management focused technology news which we believe would be of specific interest to our This Week in Supply Chain Technologyglobal-based readership.

Included in this edition are highlights related to noteworthy announcements and/or developments related to:


Volkswagen and Minespider

Squishy Robotics


Reported Large U.S. Warehouse Owner Having Plans for Public Offering

Last week, The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported (Paid subscription required) that GLP, a leading privately-held Singapore based global investment manager specializing in logistics and related technology investments, has plans to take its U.S. business entity public, in what was described as being potentially one of the largest real-estate listings on record.

According to DLP’s website, the firm entered the US market in 2015 and became the country’s second largest logistics property owner and operator within a year of market entry. Today, the firm manages more than $16 billion of funds in the U.S..

The WSJ indicates that the closely-held Singapore firm reportedly filed confidentially with securities regulators for an IPO that could value its U.S. business at more than $20 billion, which would make this offering more valuable than some of the more celebrated IPO debuts. The report indicates that the company plans to raise $3 billion in this offering which will be applied to pay down debt from a 2018 leveraged buyout.

The firm reportedly is not well known by U.S. investors, but is profitable, and includes a network of warehouses leased to online retailer, and others.

The report reiterates that industrial warehouses are one of the hottest investments right now as reflected in the share values of firms Prologis, Drake Realty Group and Terreno Realty.

GLP’s global presence includes $64 billion of assets under management in real estate and private equity funds around the world. The Company’s real estate fund platform is one of the largest in the world, spanning 785 million square feet. In 2019, the firm was recognized by Private Equity Real Estate (PERE) as Global Firm of the Year and Logistics Investor of the Year.


Volkswagen and Minespider Collaborate on Blockchain Technology

Volkswagen Group has reportedly begun an initial pilot of a Blockchain technology project directed at gaining greater transparency in the automaker’s materials supply chain. Some automakers are piloting the technology as a means to validate whether suppliers are meeting contractual obligations related to areas such as business conditions, environmental protections, human rights, safety and compliance across the supply network.

The automaker has partnered with Blockchain start-up technology provider Minespider on an anticipated series of pilots among supply areas. The first pilot will track the German automaker’s battery supply chain for lead from point of origin to the factory. VW reportedly is leveraging a public rather than a private block chain approach, to ensure that all supply chain participants are working on the same system.

According to the automaker, the initial collaboration stemmed from a Hackathon for Supply Chain Transparency held in 2018, which featured Minespider.

On its website, the technology provider indicates that its protocol is public and decentralized, designed to transform the entire raw materials industry so that dark money and illicit practices become a shadow of the past. Another customer involved Minespider pilot involves the validation of not using conflict minerals, creating tags that can be associated to individual metals shipments.

Supply Chain Matters This Week in Supply Chain Tech previously highlighted a blockchain technology partnership among German automaker Mercedes Benz and technology provider Icertis to address conformance and broader leverage of sustainability visibility efforts across supply networks through the leveraging of smart contracts.

Other automakers including BMW, General Motors, Ford and Renault had formed a blockchain research group in 2018 in a bid to study the technology’s application in various business process and application areas.


The Unveiling of First Responder Mobile Sensor Robots

This week, Squishy Robotics unveiled was has been described as a rapidly deployable sensor laden robot available to emergency first responders, that can be airdropped from drones or helicopters.  Squishy Robotics

Shaped like a geodesic ball, the robots are “shape shifting,” and equipped with six on-board cameras, GPS, and various interchangeable chemical, biological or radiological sensors, delivering data and video in situations were human access can be difficult or unsafe.

A spin-off of NASA research, the lightweight sensor robots can eliminate the need for first responders to enter risky environments and reducing exposure to unknown hazards.

In emergency situations involving hazardous materials, first responders must first suit up in personal protection equipment before entering a suspected “hot zone,” which is precious time before emergency personnel can gauge a degree of hazard, as-well placing responders in a potential personal safety threat. Once deployed by first responders located a safe distance from the threat, the robots provide critical data and surveillance. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are utilized to improved data analytics.

The company has created both stationary and mobile versions, capable of being remotely controlled to travel over uneven surfaces.

The company, co-founded by Dr. Alice Agogino, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley, and a Berkely SkyDeck accelerator, has signed collaboration agreements with the Los Angeles County Fire Department and Houston Fire Departments, which are now beta-testing these devices.


Added Note to ReadersSupply Chain Matters will feature our This Week in Supply Chain Tech highlight series as announcements warrant.


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