German logistics technology provider Körber 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.
Körber, 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 Körber 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 Körber 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 Körber 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 Körber and Centriq, he said.