September 15, 2017

Trimble says 10-4 acquisition lets it track freight, not just trucks

Buying shipment tracking software firm will complement TMW Systems' TMS platform with enhanced visibility, executives say.

By Ben Ames

Supply chain technology provider Trimble Inc.'s acquisition of 10-4 Systems Inc., a provider of shipment tracking software, will strengthen Trimble's position in the red-hot asset visibility market by allowing users to track the freight along with the truck that's hauling it, Trimble said.

In announcing yesterday it had acquired Boulder, Colo.-based 10-4 for an unspecified amount, Trimble executives said 10-4's multimodal shipment visibility solutions would allow users to improve asset utilization while better balancing supply and demand imperatives.

Demand for improved visibility over freight shipments has taken on a new urgency as users seek systems that can provide real-time tracking of inventory in transit, John Santagate, research manager for supply chain execution at the Framingham, Mass.-based consulting firm IDC Manufacturing Insights, said in an email.

"The sheer scale of the logistics industry and the amount of material that is in-transit every day is massive. Many companies lose visibility of this inventory, which has a trickle down effect throughout the supply chain," Santagate said. "With real time visibility, companies can sense and respond to disruption, can plan better, can better utilize their warehouse assets, and much more."

By purchasing 10-4, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Trimble is continuing its effort to build a powerful visibility product by adding the technology startup to a stable of recent acquisitions.

Trimble plans to integrate 10-4 into its recently established Trimble Transportation Enterprise (TTE) business segment, alongside the TMW Systems' TMS platform it purchased in 2012, and the ALK Technologies routing and navigation software firm it bought in 2013, company executives said in a conference call. Trimble's transportation and logistics division also includes a mobile solutions unit, which features the PeopleNet and GeoTrac fleet management software companies it acquired in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

10-4's transportation visibility data will help Trimble provide a "higher fidelity" view of tracing shipments through the supply chain, whether a container is on a train, in a rail yard, at a cross-dock, being relayed between different trailers, or at its destination, Wangler said.

"We have seen in the last three or four years the rise of a number of providers solving the visibility problem, which is what we call one of the hard-to-solve unsolved problems in transportation," he said. "Shippers have always desired this complete visibility, and the technology has finally come to bear to allow them to do that."

In addition to help shippers improve their track and trace capabilities, the data can benefit carriers by improving asset utilization and avoiding costly empty backhauls, 10-4 Co-Founder and President Travis Rhyan said on the call.

"For a long time those demands were met with [electronic data interchange (EDI)], which has been around for almost five decades and still has its place, but is pretty antiquated and rigid," Rhyan said. "But by using modern techniques like web services and [application programming interfaces (APIs)], we can create a more holistic flow of information."

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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