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Supply Chain Software Shakeup

Supply Chain Software Market Shakeup Heats Up

May 17, 2021
The latest round of industry acquisitions involves some of the biggest players in the supply chain arena.

One positive sign that the economic torpor resulting from the pandemic is nearing an end is the recent spate of mergers, acquisitions, spinoffs and launches—all signaling confidence in the supply chain marketplace. Following is a quick look at some of the latest in corporate changes.

Panasonic Acquires Blue Yonder

Blue Yonder is hardly a household name, even in supply chain circles, mostly because for 35 years the company was known as JDA and only just last year changed its name to Blue Yonder. However, a quick look at the companies that JDA/Blue Yonder has acquired over the years reads like a who’s-who of former supply chain software titans, including i2 Technologies, Manugistics, Red Prairie and E3. In fact, JDA/Blue Yonder sits comfortably in third place behind software behemoths SAP and Oracle in sales of supply chain software.

Thus, it’s big news that Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp., which serves the consumer electronics, housing, automotive, and B2B sectors, has acquired Blue Yonder for roughly $5.6 billion. Technically speaking, Panasonic has agreed to purchase the remaining 80% of the company, since it acquired 20% of Blue Yonder in 2020. When repayment of outstanding debt is factored in, the total additional investment is valued at $7.1 billion.

Once the deal is approved and carried out, Panasonic plans to shift to a holding company system effective April 1, 2022. At that point, the Panasonic Group will concentrate management resources on strategic businesses in key areas such as providing supply chain innovation and automation.

Yasuyuki Higuchi is the CEO of Panasonic’s Connected Solutions Company (to become Panasonic Connect Co. Ltd. on April 1, 2022), which leads this business area. Blue Yonder CEO Girish Rishi and the extended leadership team will join the new organization and the Blue Yonder brand will be retained and business will function within the Panasonic Connected Solutions Company umbrella.

According to Panasonic CEO Yuki Kusumi, “By merging the two companies, we would like to realize a world where waste is autonomously eliminated from all supply chain operations and the cycle of sustainable improvement continues. There are still many such losses and stagnation in supply chain operations, so through the drastic reduction of wasted labor and resources, we would like to provide better ways of working, and contribute to customers’ management reform and also to the realization of a sustainable society by carefully using limited global resources.”

Blue Yonder had $1 billion in revenue for the year ended December 31, 2020.

Toyota Launches Autonomous Vehicle Software Development Company

Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO) plans to bundle its software development in autonomous vehicles (AVs), increase its global investments and establish T-Hive B.V. as a center of excellence. The new organization will combine the software products, partnerships and innovations from TICO’s main Group companies: Toyota L&F, Toyota Material Handling, Toyota Material Handling Europe, Raymond, Bastian and Vanderlande, and respective brands.

The new company will operate from Ede in The Netherlands and be led by Léon Jansen, who will serve as T-Hive’s CEO and managing director. T-Hive’s main focus will be to provide a seamless control system encompassing all AVs within TICO, such as automated guided forklifts (AGFs), automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).

“Due to the increasing demand for software development in all industries, securing personnel is also becoming a global challenge. T-Hive will create opportunities for us to work together across the Toyota Industries Group network,” explains Norio Wakabayashi, TICO Executive Officer.

JASCI Acquires NextShift Robotics

JASCI Software, a provider of SaaS warehouse management software, has acquired NextShift Robotics, an autonomous warehouse robotics company based. NextShift will operate as JASCI Robotics, focused on warehousing and logistics. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Mary Ellen Sparrow, CEO/co-founder of Nextshift Robotics, will be joining the new company as a co-founder and is the co-author of many robotic patents. The NextShift patent portfolio contains 8 robotic patents, with three unique patents and one patent family containing five additional patents.

NextShift developed a robotic operating system that senses and learns the warehouse environment in real-time. The robot incorporates LIDAR and cameras, and features a mapping/traffic management system. Hundreds of robots can navigate the warehouse simultaneously alongside humans and material handling equipment. JASCI provides the ability to task and orchestrate all of this in real-time leveraging its patented SmartTask workflow technology.

Descartes Acquires Portrix Logistics Software

Descartes Systems Group, a provider of on-demand SaaS solutions for logistics-intensive businesses, has acquired Portrix Logistics Software, a Hamburg, Germany-based provider of multimodal rate management solutions for third-party logistics providers. The deal is valued at $26.7 million.

Portrix’s core product, Global Price Management (GPM), is used by customers to enable global shipment routing, pricing, rating and capacity allocation management. Portrix’s solutions integrate with key systems that need fast, accurate, and complete shipping and pricing options, including CRM, transportation management, and customer-facing online booking platforms, such as Descartes Kontainers.

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