Carriers and shippers need to embrace new technological tools that smooth out their operations in this era of supply chain complexity, Michael Pantilione, a partner at LLR Partners, said in an interview with PE Hub.
Earlier this week, the Philadelphia PE firm announced a growth investment in PCS Software, a Houston-based provider of transportation management systems for shippers, carriers and brokerages in North America. Capstreet Group, also based in Houston, retained a minority stake in PCS.
Traditional approaches to supply chain management are littered with manual processes. “In PCS, we see a company well positioned to fill a technology gap that allows supply chain participants to modernize their business operations, gain visibility and deliver a better experience for increasingly demanding customers,” Pantilione said.
Software from PCS facilitates both better operational efficiency for businesses and a more connected ecosystem, Pantilione added.
PCS offers an AI-driven transportation management platform that can be utilized by both shippers and carriers. For carriers, the company’s technology aims to automate load bundling, route optimization and real-time driver tracking, enabling customers to increase profits and track performance. For shippers, PCS optimizes load scheduling and streamlines carrier relationships by providing a real-time view into the best pricing for every shipment, among other functions, according to the company.
“This is an industry that has historically been a tech laggard, and when you have all of these environmental or macro pressures being applied, it creates a really exciting opportunity to be the one that solves the pain point,” Pantilione said.
Although the pandemic accelerated tech adoption in the supply chain sector, the LLR partner said that, even before covid, there was a “pretty dramatic” rise in supply chain complexity that drove adoption.
“Take the rising number of distribution centers and products running through them, and the companies that need to touch something to be able to deliver on the expectation of ‘free overnight shipping.’ There are just a lot more points that need connecting and a lot higher level of expectation these companies are trying to meet,” he said.
In terms of growth, Pantilione said the firm will focus on both organic and inorganic means to scale PCS.
Although the current macroeconomic environment is squeezing many businesses, Pantilione said PCS has weathered other volatile circumstances in the past. This, he said, gives LLR confidence that PCS will navigate.
“We are coming out of one set of volatile circumstances in the pandemic to another set of challenges, such as inflation, but what gives us some degree of confidence is that PCS has done a really impressive job navigating everything that’s been thrown at them so far.”
Since the start of the pandemic, many investors have jumped into the supply chain sector. But for Pantilione there are still untapped opportunities. “We feel like the space is large enough to create multiple winners,” he said.