The Supply Chain Matters blog features its latest full edition of This Week in Supply Chain Technology.

This column serves as a news capsule of specific developments occurring in the supply chain technology sector.

Our prior full edition of this column was published on January 19th.

In this week’s edition, we include developments or announcements involving:

Blue Yonder and flexis

Logility

EV parcel van producer Arrival

Amazon’s Industrial Innovation Fund

Oracle’s Fusion Supply Cloud Supply Chain and Manufacturing

 

 

Blue Yonder Acquires Flexis

Last week, supply chain planning and execution software provider Blue Yonder announced the acquisition of production optimization and transportation planning software provider flexis AG.

Headquartered in Germany, flexis provides what is described as a hybrid modular architecture of supply chain modules that enable intelligent ways to optimize supply chain planning for wide range of industries with national or international networks.

Specific capabilities include production planning and scheduling, order slotting and sequencing, transportation capacity planning, vehicle routing and scheduling, all on an API-based microservices architecture. The flexis capabilities are marketed to manufacturers seeking the ability to more flexibly schedule and sequence customer orders on production assembly lines, along with integrating with existing customer order systems for optimizing production dates based on inventory availability, production sequencing needs and transportation schedules.

Industry vertical concentration includes Automotive, Manufacturing and Logistics industry sectors. Noted customers include names such as BMW, CNH Industrial, DAF, a Paccar Company, General Motors, Honda, Kenworth and Volkswagen.

No financial details were shared regarding this acquisition.

The flexis acquisition follows the announced closing of the acquisition of Doodle in November 2023, a provider of first and last mile logistics support for customer returns processes.

 

Logility Announces Availability of Generative AI Capabilities

Supply chain planning provider Logility, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Software, announced the delivery of Generative AI capabilities, extending it AI-first approach for supply chain planning and decision-making support.

In September of 2023, this column highlighted Logility’s acquisition of ChatGPT technology provider Garvis, a visionary startup that combines large language models (LLM’s) with AI-native demand forecasting. Garvis technology is aimed to provide planners with control of user-trainable, transparent AI for navigating the ever-changing real-world data. Garvis CEO is Piet Buyck, who has now part of Logility’s product leadership, provides sales and business executive roles spanning supply chain tech providers E2open, Terra Technology and a host of other software firms.

According to this availability announcement, planners can query forecasts, sales history, and demand drivers for any product, location, or customer, for any time period, at any level of detail supported. They can further observe and analyze forecast changes leveraging large language models (LLMs) while staying within the guardrails of data security provided via a Microsoft Azure platform.

 

EV Parcel Van Producer Arrival Placed in Administration

United Kingdom based Arrival, a designer and producer of electric powered parcel delivery vans has reportedly entered bankruptcy administration.

Founded in 2015 on the principle of utilizing simplified micro-factories to produce electric vans, busses and taxis, the producer attracted considerable market and customer interest.

Our Supply Chain Matters commentary in February 2020 highlighted the announcement from global based parcel transportation services provider UPS’s order for 10,000 purpose-built electric delivery to accelerate the carrier’s fleet electrification efforts. both firms had begun collaborating together in 2016 for developing concepts for different sized EV vans, and subsequently announced the development of a pilot fleet of 35 vans that were tested in London and Paris.

The EV parcel truck maker subsequently went public in March 2021, combining with CIIG Merger Corp. while securing a $5.4 billion market valuation based on 2024 revenue expectations. The company’s stock spiraled from an initial $10 price at IPO to 19 cents in early April of that year.

In April of 2023, this column highlighted Arrival’s second blank check SPAC deal after upwards of two years as a public company. The tech provider merged with Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp. V in an effort to secure upwards of $283 million in cash to stave off bankruptcy. That deal subsequently collapsed. In late 2023, the company indicated an  intent to sell itself or consider other strategic options, after slashing its global workforce by upwards of 25 percent.

Business and investor media have continually noted that high interest rates, inflation, and access to capital, compounded by continual supply chain and production struggles have drained both the production volume ramp-up and the subsequent the cash balances of many EV startups. That has included Lordstown Motors, Proterra, Volta Trucks, and now Arrival.

 

Changing Strategy for Amazon’s Industrial Innovation Fund

A January published report by TechCrunch, indicates that while Amazon’s $1 billion Industrial Innovation Fund, launched in April 2022, continues to invest in nearly a dozen U.S. and Israeli based start-ups focused on logistics and supply chain automation, there has been a reported slight change in investment strategy.

This report summarizes an interview with Franziska Bossart this fund’s new director.

The reported aim is to further expand geographically and to explore areas in Generative AI that support a broader mission. This fund reportedly is focused on building off previous investments in AI and robotics that have already led to internal process improvements within Amazon’s operations including robotic arms that automate repetitive tasks and automated material handling vehicles that transport larger sized items.

Bossart indicated to TechCrunch that fund’s analysis efforts are expanding to assess tech providers residing in Europe and Asia, and rather than early-stage providers, to shift “a little bit” more towards later-stage startups. Three noted areas of particular interest are indicated to be AI, bipedal/humanoid robots, along with autonomous vehicles “that will improve middle-mile and last-mile delivery.”

 

Oracle Introduces New Logistics Support Capabilities

ERP and supply chain management software provider Oracle has announced new logistics capabilities within Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain & Manufacturing (SCM).

The updates to Oracle Transportation Management and Oracle Global Trade Management, part of Oracle Cloud SCM, reportedly will help customers to better optimize logistics operations by increasing visibility, reducing costs, automating regulatory compliance, and improving decision-making.

This week’s announcement was made in conjunction with the Oracle CloudWorld event being held this week in Mumbai.

The new capabilities within Oracle Transportation Management and Oracle Global Trade Management include:

Expanded Business Intelligence Capabilities: Enables customers to combine transportation and trade data with other operational data in Oracle Fusion Data Intelligence.

Enhanced Logistics Network Modeling: Helps logistics managers to model different scenarios and compare different scheduling options. The enhanced Logistics Network Modeling capabilities help organizations quickly evaluate schedules, improve assignment decisions, and optimize fleet performance.

New Trade Incentive Program: Enables customers to simultaneously automate support for multiple country-specific trade programs. Automating trade documentation helps organizations reduce manual processes, improve the accuracy and efficiency of trade program participation, and reduce duty and tax costs.

Updated Oracle Transportation Management Mobile App: Support for third-party transportation service providers and fleet-managed drivers enables app users to bid on spot market shipments, capture shipment actuals, and launch maps.

Improved Workbenches: Help logistics managers quickly and easily create highly configurable workbenches that provide a single view of operations.

Supply Chain Matters spoke directly with Srini Rajagopal, Vice President of Logistics and Product Strategy at Oracle, who indicated these added functionalities are a result of direct customer requests in seeking to connect their logistics and regulatory digital threads in an end-to-end dimension. Noted as most noteworthy in this release was the incorporation of logistics networking visualization and modeling built into the specific TMS data, and complimentary to supply chain network tools.

Regarding the announced global trade management enhancements that span Oracle Transportation Management and Oracle Global Trade Management, Rajagopal pointed out the importance for including every component of a product’s bill-of-materials from a multi-tiered hierarchy as a required level of sophistication in today’s far more complex global trade and regulatory environment.

 

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