Manhattan Associates Inc. rolled out two solutions this week aimed at improving the productivity and efficiency of fulfillment centers as well as to retailers engaged in omnichannel activities.
For warehouses and fulfillment centers, the company launched the Manhattan Automation Network, which is “a program designed to speed the development and implementation of modern distribution center automation and robotics.” In this first phase, the company has partnered with several warehouse-level technology firms, including Kindred AI, Locus Robotics, Matthews Automation Solutions, Right Hand Robotics and VCO Systems, to implement the network.
Fueling demand for upgrading distribution centers is the continued growth of online sales and omnichannel retailing as well as a shortage of warehouse employees, which is “putting tremendous pressure on distribution centers,” Manhattan Associates Inc. said in a statement.
“As a result, many warehouses are aggressively adopting automation and robotics solutions to supplement their human workforces,” the company said. “However, integrating the workflows between these automated solutions and human workers, other automated solutions and other distribution center software can be difficult and expensive.”
This is where its automation network program can help, the company said, adding that the platform is “designed to reduce the cost and complexity of adopting warehouse automation solutions. It provides prebuilt integrated flows and a proactive certification process to ensure that Manhattan [warehouse management system] customers gain the advantage of prebuilt integration as a strong starting point to their automation projects, leading to a significant reduction in overall project costs.”
A recent survey conducted by Peerless Research Group for trade publication Modern Materials Handling found that less than half of the U.S. warehouses polled have at least some partial automation in various functions, but upgrading to increase capabilities with AI and robotics is a high priority.
Adam Kline, senior director of product management for Manhattan Associates, said, “Robotics and automation are having a more pronounced role in today’s distribution center operations,” and added that the company is dedicated “to helping our clients continue to innovate, advance their supply chain capabilities and stay ahead of market trends.”
Separately, Manhattan Associates Inc. said it was now going to offer an IoT-powered store inventory and fulfillment solution, especially for omnichannel fulfillment. The company said it is upgrading its “Store Inventory and Fulfillment” solution with native, RFID support, which will “significantly improve store inventory accuracy and store order fulfillment speed.”
The company noted that while warehouse inventory visibility averaged 99 percent, retailers have averages of below 65 percent, “which often leads to inaccurate promising and missed order fulfillment commitments, resulting in frustrated customers and lost sales.”