If there’s one thing consumer-facing businesses need these days, it’s options. Amid pandemic-driven supply chain disruptions that have extended into 2022, relying on a single shipper, carrier, sourcing partner or mode of transport is a recipe for failure.
What businesses need is flexibility, and FourKites just created a whole lot of it. The Chicago-based supply chain visibility platform announced Tuesday the acquisition of European supply chain visibility provider NIC-place in a move that will triple its European carrier presence and, with the addition of NIC-place’s Europewide rail network, create the largest multimodal carrier on the continent.
“Combining these modal capabilities with FourKites’ existing over-the-road, barge, international ocean and air capabilities creates a strong and truly differentiated intermodal network,” FourKites CEO Matthew Elenjickal told Modern Shipper. “The volume of European multimodal data available via FourKites and NIC-place is now unrivaled in the region.”
The combined networks of FourKites and Kempten, Germany-based NIC-place will allow businesses to transport goods across Europe via road, rail, air and ocean at an unprecedented scale. Much of that owes to NIC-place’s extensive rail network, which is the largest on the continent.
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Not only that, but the visibility capabilities of the two companies will enable real-time tracking and data collection for all of those shipments. According to a joint report by FourKites and Reuters on the state of European supply chains, that will alleviate one of the biggest pain points for companies in the region — over two-thirds of respondents cited end-to-end traceability as their largest obstacle.
“The NIC-place solution enables advanced visualization, monitoring and analysis of fleets based on telematics data, temperature data and engine diagnostics data. NIC-place continuously tracks the carrier’s assets, with many additional data points such as fuel and emission levels, door openings and temperature,” Elenjickal explained. “NIC-place also provides its customers with a platform — the Data Control Center (DCC) — to facilitate controlled data sharing with third parties, such as shippers and visibility providers.”
According to the FourKites CEO, that data-sharing piece is a big part of what made NIC-place stand out. More so than in other regions, Elenjickal said, companies in Europe have heightened data privacy concerns due to a fragmented carrier market, but NIC-place’s DCC is subject to stringent data privacy regulations that give carriers control over what is shared, and with whom. And to boot, the DCC interfaces to all open real-time visibility platforms, meaning businesses can keep all of their visibility data in one place.
“We are thrilled to join forces with FourKites, the pioneer and market leader in real-time supply chain transport visibility and the pacesetter for innovation and end-to-end multimodal coverage,” said Pete Jendras, founder and managing director of NIC-place. “FourKites shares our vision for prioritizing data security and integrity and empowering carriers to collaborate easily with their supply chain partners.”
As a FourKites company, NIC-place will continue to focus on solutions geared toward carriers and logistics service providers, and it will retain its name and offices in Germany. Customers of NIC-place will become FourKites customers, with the option to exchange data between the two solutions upon request.
For FourKites, bringing on NIC-place is a massive step toward shoring up its European strategy. In 2021 alone, the platform doubled its European customer base, grew its carrier network in the region by 35% and saw 148% growth in European shipment volume. But according to Elenjickal, FourKites is quadrupling down on Europe — the company plans to increase its investments in the region fourfold and open offices in Munich, Paris and Wroclaw, Poland.
“Europe is key to global supply chains. Given FourKites’ global, multinational, Fortune 2000 customer mix, it’s critical to have full coverage in the region,” Elenjickal said.FourKites will showcase the NIC-place solution in a live webinar on Feb. 16.