TMW Systems acquired five companies over a five-year span that started in 2006. The number of acquisitions could have been six. David Wangler, the company’s president, began discussing the possibility of acquiring ALK Technologies in 2007. The timing wasn’t right for both companies, but this year the deal went through.
During a conference call with CCJ on Jan. 3, Wangler announced that Trimble Navigation acquired ALK Technologies. ALK joins TMW Systems in Trimble’s Transportation and Logistics (T&L) portfolio. TMW Systems was acquired by the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Trimble in August, 2012.
In August, 2011, Trimble acquired PeopleNet Communications and created the T&L portfolio, which began as a mobile solutions group anchored by PeopleNet. With the acquisition of TMW, Trimble added two more groups: enterprise software and analytics.
As part of Trimble, ALK will report to the enterprise systems group, which is led by Wangler.
ALK of Princeton, NJ, is a provider of routing, mapping, mileage and navigation technologies. ALK’s software products include CoPilot Live, which offers onboard GPS navigation for professional drivers; and PC Miler, a truck-specific mileage system recognized in the industry as a standard for logistics, manufacturing, government and transportation operations.
Now that TMW, PeopleNet and ALK belong to the same corporation, fleets might wonder if the relationships between these Trimble-owned entities and other suppliers with integrated systems for mobile computing, enterprise software or mileage and routing systems will change?
Wangler says that Trimble-owned companies will continue to integrate with any software systems that their customers desire to work with. The company plans to grow its portfolio as customers expand their use of joint products, but this strategy will not in any way limit choice and flexibility. The joint companies will have to earn customers’ business by offering a compelling value — an “end-to-end, richly integrated solution,” he says.
TMW Systems has a long history of working with ALK’s PC Miler data platform for operational planning and billing activities that use mileage and routing. Going forward, the companies will be able to have more coordination and collaboration. “We can share information as colleagues rather than as partners,” he says.
Qualcomm, a direct competitor of PeopleNet, offers an integrated ALK’s CoPilot navigation system on its mobile computing platform. It also integrates with TMW Systems.
“With the recent news of Trimble’s acquisition of ALK Technologies, it seems clear that 2013 will continue the trend of consolidation in the transportation and logistics technology market,” said Norm Ellis, vice president of sales, services and marketing for Qualcomm Enterprise Services.
“We look forward to continuing our positive relationship with ALK Technologies and other leading navigation providers—keeping our joint customers’ best interests at the forefront of our ongoing product development and integration strategies,” he continued. “To ensure we provide optimal features and flexibility to customers, we foster open, unbiased relationships with leading providers as part of our core business strategy and expect ALK Technologies will also maintain our valued relationship.”
Approximately 64 percent of North American for-hire motor carriers use software from ALK, and the company also has a footprint in Europe through its CoPilot product line. The acquisition of ALK should provide more opportunities to extend Trimble’s T&L portfolio globally. The company, for instance, is currently exploring the use of ALK’s CoPilot for its onboard computing and mobile communications system sold in Europe through Punch Telematix.
“You can’t talk to anybody at Trimble and not have global strategy,” Wangler says.
“The combination of ALK’s routing, mapping, mileage and navigation capabilities with our enterprise transportation management software and the mobile communications solutions under the Trimble Transportation and Logistics umbrella supports our comprehensive and industry-focused technology approach,” he added.