Behind the Korber acquisition of Centriq

Centriq brings strong voice capabilities to Korber’s North American business

By ·

Summer’s over. It’s time to put away the flip-flops and catch up on that stack of business that’s piled up on the desk. In my case, that includes a press release from June announcing the acquisition of Centriq, a leading provider of voice-directed warehousing and modeling solutions in Europe, by Korber.

While Korber, a logistics and software powerhouse in Europe, may not be a household name in the U.S., acquisitions like HighJump and DMLogic are familiar to readers of Modern. To learn a little more, I spoke to Chad Collins, Co-CEO of the Korber Logistics Software Business Unit.

According to Collins, Centriq is a holding company for two businesses. The first is Voiteq, which is the largest re-seller of voice solutions in the world, including Honeywell Vocollect, and has had a presence in the U.S. for about five years. “In addition to reselling voice solutions, Voiteq has added software capabilities,” Collins said. One example is a screen-to-voice tool that voice-enables screens from a WMS; the solution, for example, allows a WMS to open five orders and then create those tasks as a batch pick in voice. Another example is a WES system built around voice. “If you don’t have a WMS, but have an ERP system, you can use Voiteq to handle voice-enabled processes,” Collins said. Voiteq will compliment Vitech, a North American company acquired in 2017, by extending its capabilities into Europe, where Voiteq has a strong presence.

The other is Cirrus Logistics, a software company with three products focused on simulation and optimization. One is a warehouse simulation package that allows you to run multiple scenarios around how a warehouse perform as automation, people and lift trucks move through a specific warehouse configuration. “The product allows you to do a replay,” Collins said. “If you want to know what happened during the last hour of a shift, you can feed in the transaction data and watch what happened minute by minute.” The primary market is 3PL users.

The other two products include network design optimization, which looks at transportation and distribution networks to create an optimal network design and the third is focused on scheduling the most efficient way to bring ships in to port for off-loading – the latter is used by the oil and gas industry.

What does the acquisition bring to the table, especially in North America? Collins said that the Cirrus warehouse simulation product can be tightly integrated with a HighJump WMS – or someone else’s WMS to run simulations that might be useful in, say, re-slotting product, creating new pick zones or a new warehouse design. The network design products bring new capabilities for customers who operate multiple distribution centers, which is increasingly common in an omni-channel world.

The combination of Voiteq and Vitech gives the company a portfolio of voice solutions that it can deliver across North America and Europe and through it’s partners in South America and the Asia Pacific. “We can deliver this across the Globe, which we believe is a differentiator,” Collins said.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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