SUNNYVALE, Calif. – Trimble has announced that it’s acquiring Kuebix, in a deal that it says will connect North America’s largest network of shippers and carriers through a single transportation management system platform.
Trimble technologies already serve a network of 1.3 million trucks, with a particular focus on private fleets. Keubix, meanwhile, has established a community of more than 21,000 shipping companies.
The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of this year, subject to customary closing conditions. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“This combination will help carriers uncover inefficiencies in their network, make better decisions, optimize operations and transform the way the transportation industry works,” said James Langley, senior vice-president, Trimble Transportation.
Through the acquisition, Trimble says it will be able to introduce “actionable visibility and improve collaboration” through a single logistics platform.
“The combination of Trimble and Kuebix will accelerate the realization of our vision — a world where shippers, carriers and intermediaries leverage the same powerful TMS [transportation management system] platform to provide the market with unprecedented levels of visibility and efficiency,” said Dan Clark, founder and president of Kuebix.
“A single-platform TMS across all transportation modes will make it easier for shippers and carriers to plan their strategy, design an optimized transportation network, improve execution, and more accurately manage settlements. When all players in the market work together, everyone wins.”
Transportation technology investments
Trimble clearly sees an opportunity for technological investments that look across the supply chain.
“Over $19 billion has been dumped into the transportation technology space in the last three years because there’s a ton of inefficiency in this industry,” Langley said. Many drivers are not maximizing their allowable time behind the wheel; about 15% of trailers run empty, and other units run just 20% full. “Think about all that cube, think about all that additional capacity, think about all that waste.”
But much of the innovation has focused on the supply chain to optimize individual challenges, whether they’re faced by the shipper, carrier, or warehouse manager, he said.
The first signs of the acquisition will emerge in the form of a simple opportunity for Trimble customers to connect to the Kuebix community of shippers, but the work now begins to fully integrate the capabilities for a richer experience. That has the potential of transforming many business transactions.
From Excel to integration
“Eighty percent of the business and transactions in North America today is done through Excel spreadsheets, and that’s for your commitments, your committed contracted freight,” Langley explained, referring to traditional one- and two-year deals. The rest goes to the spot market.
“The speed of decision making is going to accelerate … the supply chain now works too fast. It’s hard to go out and commit two years exactly what you’re going to do. I think that whole connection and collaboration between the shipper and carrier through a platform, that procurement process will be much easier to transact.”
But he is also careful to stress what the company does not want to do.
“We’re not trying to Uber-ize the industry,” Langley said. “Look, if there are parts that need to be Uber-ized, and both parties want to play in that way, and it’s beneficial for all parties, and it’s a win-win situation, amen. What you’re finding from a lot of the medium-to-large carriers is what they’re looking for is a trusted technology partner that brings value to them as well.
“We want to enable, through technology, all the members of the supply chain to just do business more easily and more effectively instead of determining the rules of engagement.”
Langley said the most important focus now is to establish value and trust in the offerings. This means demonstrating the businesses are good stewards of the data, and that carriers and shippers alike will realize value in return. “The on-premise customers with client/server applications will begin to connect to the platform and we will build out the capabilities over the next few years.”
The ELD mandate in the U.S. has given shippers a taste of the visibility that’s possible. Now, Langley adds, they want to be able to take action.
“I don’t want to just see there’s a truck, or see it’s going to be late, or where it is in transit. I want to be able to react and change the dynamics of the supply chain to meet my customer’s needs because we have an ever-expanding challenging marketplace when it comes to supply chain to meet the customer’s demand with all his e-commerce and Amazon effect.”
“The vision that we were really founded on by our founder Dan Clark is transparent connectivity between the shipper and the carrier,” said Kuebix CEO Dave Lemont. “If we can connect them, we can make the carrier can be more efficient, the shipper can be more efficient, and everyone can win. And when you look at Trimble’s tremendous expertise in the carrier world and what we’ve been able to accomplish in the shipper world, this is really exciting.
“Having so many shippers in a single environment, on a single platform is we have partnerships coming from all the carriers that will allow our shippers to get more capacity, better market rates, more opportunities for our carrier partners, all in a single platform and quite frankly we think it’s going to transform the industry over time.”
Kuebix’s business will now be part of Trimble’s Transportation Sector.
That umbrella includes TMW systems, which offers enterprise software for transportation and logistics companies in North America, Europe, China and Latin America. ALK Technologies, meanwhile, has a portfolio of routing, mileage, mapping and navigation software.
Other North American offerings within the sector include PeopleNet North America’s fleet management solutions, mobile communications and onboard computing systems; GeoTrac North America safety solutions for the oil and gas sector; and the Vusion North America analytics company.
- An original version of this story has been updated to include comments offered through a conference call relating to the acquisition.
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