June 22, 2018

Korber acquires British voice software vendor Centriq

Deal strengthens firm's Honeywell Vocollect voice integration business, in response to rising demand for e-commerce solutions, Korber says.

By Ben Ames

German logistics technology provider Korber AG said Thursday that it had acquired the British voice-directed equipment vendor Centriq Group Ltd., and would use the deal to reinforce its position as a vendor of voice technology for logistics applications and to grow faster internationally.

Centriq provides voice-directed warehousing and modeling solutions for customers mainly in the food & beverage, retail, and third party logistics (3PL) industries.

Korber, which also owns the U.S. logistics software vendors HighJump Software Inc. and DMLogic LLC, said the transaction would also cover Centriq's voice solution business Voiteq and its modeling and simulation business Cirrus Logistics. Voiteq provides voice software solutions and services with its product "VoiceMan," while Cirrus Logistics supplies software and services that use advanced optimization and simulation techniques to develop and execute supply chain strategies, the firm said.

Acquiring Centriq allows Korber to complement its North American voice business, Vitech Business Group, and to strengthen its Honeywell Vocollect voice integration business, the company said. "Growth in e-commerce and changing customer demands are putting a strain on supply chains and driving a trend toward continuous process improvements," Hubert Kloss, CEO of Körber Logistics Systems, said in a statement. "Centriq is a major international player for products that enable higher efficiency in warehousing with direct delivery capability into global blue-chip organizations."

The move also makes sense for Korber given recent trends in industry consolidation, said Michael Murrison, director and principal of supply chain services at Boulder, Colo.-based consulting firm SCApath LLC.

Voice-directed solutions are usually integrated with warehouse software to create an end-to-end product, and that process has accelerated lately as material handling solution providers have compiled growing collections of logistics technology such as warehouse management system (WMS), warehouse execution system (WES), labor management (LM), and voice-directed work software, he said.

"Recently, you see larger material handling-centric companies like Honeywell, Dematic, and Korber acquiring software applications to provide complete four-wall solutions under one banner and, more importantly from our perspective, a common solution architecture," Murrison said. "While it's not an easy task to execute, there are tremendous efficiencies to be gained when these applications work together cohesively and that's ultimately what these players are going after."

However, the move may have a limited impact on U.S. markets in the near term, given the European footprints of Korber and Centriq, he said.

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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