Afternoon Coffee: Fire disrupts chip plant, adding to semiconductor shortage; Quadient acquires AP automation provider Beanworks; Container ship orders surge

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Japanese carmakers scrambled to assess the fallout for production lines after a fire took place at a Renesas Electronics chip plant, according to Reuters.

Renesas said it will take at least a month to resume production at its Naka plant in northeast Japan after an electrical fault caused machinery to catch fire Friday. The fallout for carmakers could spread beyond just Japanese manufacturers because Renesas holds about a 30% share of the global market for microcontroller unit chips seen in cars. This is likely to aggravate the ongoing global semiconductor shortage, the article said.

“The news of the Renesas auto chip factory fire is yet another reminder of the importance of building resilience into new product design — and it’s yet another example of how unexpected events can significantly impact the availability and cost of electronics components,” Richard Barnett, a semiconductor supply chain expert and CMO of Supplyframe, said in an email. “Automobile manufacturers, consumer electronics companies and other businesses that rely on electronics components to build their products can lower their risk of chip shortages by using new forms of intelligence that provide visibility into the supply chain.”

Quadient acquires AP automation provider Beanworks

Quadient, a customer experience management and business process automation provider, on Tuesday announced the acquisition of Beanworks, a SaaS accounts payable (AP) automation solution, according to Yahoo Finance.

Beanworks supports AP automation processes for nearly 800 customers that process more than €11.9 billion a year through its platform. Its platform automates manual processes like data entry and approval follow-ups, reducing risks and cutting invoice processing costs by more than 80%, the article said.

Quadient has been strengthening its portfolio of smart hardware and software solutions for the past two years, using organic growth initiatives with targeted acquisitions. This latest acquisition of Beanworks helps bring cloud-based AP automation capabilities to Quadient’s business communications management suite, the article said.

“The acquisition of Beanworks completes Quadient’s software vision communicated in early 2019 to create a true end-to-end cloud-based global business communications platform” Geoffrey Godet, CEO of Quadient, said in a press release. “The combined strengths of Beanworks, YayPay and Quadient’s software portfolio set Quadient apart as a software leader and gives us the perfect cloud-based solutions combination to further our mission of helping companies of all sizes to digitalize and automate critical business operations.”

Container ship building projects spike despite fuel worries

Container freight rates are spiking, leading to container ship new building projects to surge in China, South Korea and Japan, according to the website Freight Waves.

There has been a large number of orders for Q4 2020 and Q1 2021. Container shipping’s orderbook was low before this latest wave of contracts, however. It’s been argued in the industry that shipowners are abstaining from orders because they fear of future decarbonization rules, the article said. Now, though, these orders imply that owners will overcome these fears if returns look high enough.

“Turns out, when things are good, people will still order even if they are concerned what type of fuel to use,” Stifel analyst Ben Nolan wrote Freight Waves.

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