Welcome to the June issue of “Across Logistics”, where we are presenting the latest logistics technology news that happened over the past month.
Here is the list of topics in this issue:
- OTTO Motors Raises $29 Million To Take Its Autonomous Mobile Robots Global
- Descartes Acquires Kontainers
- DCSA Establishes IoT Standards for Container Connectivity
- DHL Supply Chain Launches Software Platform to Accelerate the Implementation of Warehouse Robotics Through Standardization
- Alibaba Signs up to Blockchain Bill of Lading
Logistics Technology Investment & Acquisitions
OTTO Motors Raises $29 Million To Take Its Autonomous Mobile Robots Global
OTTO Motors, a division of Clearpath Robotics, has announced a $29 million (USD) Series C funding for the continued expansion of its autonomous mobile robot (AMR) platform. This funding will be used to expand OTTO’s global network of delivery partners and accelerate its product roadmap for enterprise customers with an emphasis on its industry-leading autonomous technology.
According to a 2018 study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the skills gap is projected to leave 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028, and the need for automation is projected to grow as companies seek ways to improve business continuity during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore OTTO Motors is aiming to meet the growing demand for AMRs as manufacturers struggle to find workers to serve critical needs.
“Mobile robots are no longer a luxury in the workplace; they are a necessity,” said Clearpath CEO and co-founder Matthew Rendall. “In a post-COVID world, AMRs enhance worker safety and bring resiliency to supply chains. As enterprises adapt, AMR demand will accelerate globally. This investment will enable us to grow to meet the evolving needs of the factories and warehouses of the future anywhere in the world.”
Descartes Acquires Kontainers
Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, announced that it has acquired Kontainers, a leading provider of client-facing digital freight execution platforms.
Kontainers’ solutions facilitate a fully digital customer experience including quoting, booking, tracking, and dashboard analytics. The company’s digital freight platform enables logistics services providers (“LSPs”) to rapidly create branded state-of-the-art digital experiences for their end customers. Kontainers’ technology also helps API-enable LSPs while preserving their investments in existing rate management and back-office systems.
“We’ve worked very hard with some of the world’s top logistics companies to create an optimal digital customer experience,” said Graham Parker, co-founder of Kontainers and now VP Sales Digital Freight Solutions at Descartes. “Our team of domain experts is thrilled to combine with Descartes, which will give us the opportunity to reach a broader audience much more quickly. When added to the Global Logistics Network, we’ll also have the ability to offer a pre-integrated solution that combines Kontainers digital freight execution with Descartes’ rate management and forwarder enterprise systems”
DCSA Establishes IoT Standards for Container Connectivity
At the beginning of June, Digital Container Shipping Association(DCSA) has published IoT connectivity interface standards for shipping containers. The standards can be implemented by vessel operators and owners as well as ports, terminals, container yards, inland logistics providers, and other third parties to ensure interoperability between smart container solutions at the radio interface level.
With these standards in place, carriers and supply chain participants will be one step closer to providing customers with an uninterrupted flow of relevant information regarding the whereabouts of containers and the status of their contents at any point along the container journey. This is one of many initiatives to be put forth by DCSA to accelerate digitalization through a unified industry effort.
The DCSA IoT Standard for Gateway Connectivity Interfaces, which can be freely downloaded from the DCSA website, includes radio standards for gateways on vessel, on land, at event locations, and in handheld devices. These DCSA IoT standards provide an initial set of connectivity recommendations that are vendor and platform agnostic to reduce investment risk, increase operational efficiency, and enable innovation. Ultimately, DCSA IoT standards will allow carriers and other supply chain participants to focus on providing more valuable services and a better experience to their customers.
Later in June, DCSA has also published Standard for Operational Vessel Schedules that can be implemented by vessel operators as well as vessel-sharing agreement partners and operational service providers to enable the automatic sharing of schedule information.
Other Logistics Technology News
DHL Supply Chain Launches Software Platform to Accelerate the Implementation of Warehouse Robotics Through Standardization
DHL Supply Chain, a part of Deutsche Post DHL Group, has revealed a new “plug & play” robotics platform in collaboration with Microsoft, and leading artificial intelligence (AI) driven digital fulfillment provider Blue Yonder.
The robotics platform significantly reduces integration time and programming efforts to on-board new automation devices into warehouse facilities, while giving DHL customers more flexibility in selecting suitable robotics systems according to their individual business needs. The solution leverages Microsoft Azure IoT and cloud platform services.
“The global deployment of robots and robotic systems is integral to our strategy to support our employees and improve customer operations,” says Markus Voss, Global CIO, and COO at DHL Supply Chain. “Automation and collaborative robotics help us make operational processes more flexible, ergonomic, and more attractive to our employees by replacing monotonous, repetitive, and particularly strenuous activities. The aim is not to replace employees overtime, but to assign the more attractive and interesting tasks to our human workforce.”
Alibaba Signs up to Blockchain Bill of Lading
Chinese e-commerce and technology group Alibaba has signed up to the International Port Community Systems Association’s (IPCSA) ground-breaking Blockchain Bill of Lading initiative and embarked on a new blockchain project in the organizations’ joint Logistics Visibility Task Force.
The IPCSA Blockchain Bill of Lading initiative is being led by an IPCSA member, Israel Ports Company, which operates the Israeli Ports Community System (IPCS). This year, Israel Ports Company ran a number of successful pilots using Blockchain technology for transferring electronic Bills of Lading.
“Alibaba and IPCSA have been working closely together for the past two years. In October 2018, in collaboration with LOGINK (China’s national logistics information shared network), we set up a global intelligent logistics network, named the Logistics Visibility Task Force. In its work to develop global smart supply chains, the Task Force has focused on the development of track and trace solutions and the use of ISO standards. Following on from this work, Alibaba has signed up to the IPCSA Blockchain Bill of Lading initiative, effectively making this a second workstream of the Task Force,” commented Ms Zhu (Judy) Hongu, head of the standardization department at Alibaba Group.