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The impacts of digital transformation and connected commerce are resounding across industries. The roles of manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, employees, technology and robotics are all rapidly transforming in today’s evolving e-commerce landscape. Changing consumer behaviours and new digital initiatives have also changed the game for distribution centres (DC) and supply chains, which are now expected to skilfully handle large B2B wholesale orders, retail store replenishment orders, as well as urgent, small e-commerce orders.
Some of the biggest shifts in expectations of the DC and supply chain are inline with the flexibility that consumers now expect from e-commerce. Manhattan Associates recently conducted research that revealed 56 per cent of Australian consumers would stop shopping with a retailer that doesn’t offer flexible returns options, and 71 per cent check to see if a retailer offers flexible delivery methods such as home/office delivery, parcel pickup lockers, click-and-collect and express delivery, before shopping online with them.
Today’s supply chain and warehouse need to keep up with a much more demanding omnichannel landscape, which will likely continue to grow more demanding as technology advances and competition rises.
Keeping up with the changing industry
Under pressure from rising consumer expectations, forward-thinking companies around the world are challenging themselves to serve more customers, more quickly, more directly and more personally. And these companies realise that omnichannel distribution projects aren’t just an issue for the consumer-facing retailer end of the business – it is also very much down to supply chains and warehouses to keep up.
In an effort to keep up with the omni-channel, distribution leaders are making unified channel fulfilment a key goal, because it delivers a holistic approach that is capable of factoring in the complexities and uniqueness associated with each individual channel.
Supply chain leaders are now taking note of the benefits other businesses have gained with this approach and are taking action. They have realised it’s no longer acceptable to operate channels with segregated warehouse space, duplicative inventories, excess labour, and redundant automation.
All of these assets are expensive and in order to improve throughput, profitability and customer satisfaction, maximum utilisation is critical. There needs to be continuous optimisation and orchestration of order fulfilment activities across all assets and all channels. That’s why advanced warehouse management systems (WMS) must now also feature an embedded Warehouse Execution System (WES) and Order Streaming capabilities.
Warehouse Execution System
The trend today is that more and more organisations are going down the multi-channel fulfilment route. Tasked with handling more SKU, greater numbers of smaller, more frequent orders, across more channels – all with shorter processing times – distribution centres are under constant pressure.
Rising demand for human labour and resulting labour shortages are driving many warehouses to investigate advanced automation and robotics. The appeal is obvious: automation is not impacted by regional workforce capacity, robots do not get fatigued, injured or sick, and they can work around the clock. Robots are also safer in some cases, helping to manage large, heavy, or hazardous loads to protect both worker health and the company’s liability.
DC robotics are getting more efficient, more sophisticated and faster than ever before, with innovations coming from vendors around the world. The challenge is that different types of automation do not naturally communicate and are often not aware of each other, much less the supporting workforce. In order to get maximum throughput within the DC, the various types of automation need to work together.
“More than ever, warehouse management must be approached with a holistic perspective that considers any combination of human and automation together.”
Previously, there was no standardising of systems and no limitation to the amount of automation – when supply chain leaders introduced automation, they were forced to work with various systems: a warehouse management system (WMS), or warehouse control system (WCS), as well as a warehouse execution system (WES). The systems worked independently of each other and remained largely siloed, meaning fulfilment organisations actually had to work harder to ensure inventories were not duplicated, and resources were maximised.
These legacy WMS were never designed to continuously manage the capacity and throughput across advanced automation, robotics and humans. Now, with fulfilment across multiple channels, supply chains need a lot more flexibility.
“The challenge for the supply chain is that it has multiple flows coming from all the different channels,” said Raghav Sibal, managing director at Manhattan Associates, ANZ. “This has created a need to optimise the flow of products through different channels, as throughput needs to be measured and optimised through each area of the warehouse to be able to maximise the overall efficiency of the operation, with the WMS integrating all systems used in all areas.”
Today, the WES module needs to be built inside the WMS, rather than being patched on later from the outside. Eliminating siloed integration challenges, a WES embedded into the WMS provides a comprehensive, coordinated approach that gives complete command and control of the warehouse.
“The challenge for the supply chain is that it has multiple flows coming from all the different channels.”
Many operations have both human and automation in the warehouse, and whilst automation can be optimised at maximum capacity, a bottleneck is often created in other areas. WES inside the WMS will optimise throughput through each zone or area in the warehouse, both automation and human, in order to maximise the efficiency in each area. The system is able to take into account how long an order has been sitting, as well as orders going through goods-to-purchase, to prevent a bottleneck occurring upstream or downstream, and ensuring operations are optimised.
A fully integrated WMS should work seamlessly with any type of automation, allowing robotics providers to simply plug in to the new system and be up and running quickly.
In a further effort to take charge of omnichannel management and success, many supply chain leaders are looking to Order Streaming, a sophisticated approach to order fulfilment. Order Streaming helps the DC operate with increased speed and flexibility by breaking down the boundaries between wave (bulk orders) and waveless (smaller e-commerce orders continuously streamed) fulfilment. It allows warehouses to use multiple processes to efficiently fulfil orders of any size or type rapidly from a DC of any size or type — both smaller, local, quick-response facilities, as well as larger, regional, high-volume, automated e-commerce sites.
Australia Post’s 2018 E-commerce Industry Paper revealed that in 2017 online spending saw a growth of 18.7 per cent, while traditional retail saw a growth of only 2.5 per cent. Additionally, Australia Post predicts that by 2020, one in ten items will be bought online. With this growth, Order Streaming will become more important in the supply chain to keep up with the increased volume and smaller pick orders from e-commerce.
Order Streaming is a waveless approach and allows smaller orders to be incorporated into the flow without disrupting the efficiency and productivity of the warehouse. Rather than batching orders and dropping them into the DC operation in waves, which will slow down production as smaller or single-product orders have to sit and wait until they can fit into a batch, Order Streaming continuously evaluates the order pool and automatically releases work based on variables such as order priorities and facility processing capacities.
While many types of orders and operations are best served by batch-wave processing, development of a waveless approach has been necessary to respond to growing omnichannel fulfilment promises. Waveless manages every order as a discrete allocation of work, enabling fast, responsive fulfilment for smaller, more urgent orders. It is ideal for direct-to-consumer order fulfilment.
“Order Streaming gives distribution centres the ability to process urgent e-commerce orders throughout the day without disruptions, which is only going to be more important as e-commerce continues to grow and delivery timeframes shrink,” Mr Raghav said.
Another key benefit of Order Streaming is that the system allows retailers to accept online orders later in the day, while still allowing them to turn around and ship orders quickly (often in the same day).
Whether a warehouse relies on a combination of manual and partially automated processes, or a fully automated, robotic system, Order Streaming supports the requirements of adaptive, changeable fulfilment and delivery. Today’s trends toward sophisticated autonomous robotics open an exciting set of opportunities for Order Streaming and its impact on business strategies.
Allowing for future growth
More than ever, warehouse management must be approached with a holistic perspective that considers any combination of human and automation together. Coordination and collaboration across discrete pieces of advanced automation – as well as the human workforce – only gets more powerful when those systems are integrated with each other. The combination of an embedded WES and Order Streaming capabilities makes today’s advanced WMS one that enables total visibility across the DC, complete flexibility for automation growth, as well as continuous analysis and maximum utilisation of all resources.
As e-commerce trends continue to emerge and impact supply chains, supply chain leaders must find ways to modernise their DC operations in order to remain competitive in the face of new pure-play e-commerce start-ups, international brands, and other omnichannel enterprises. Advancements in technology, equipment, and operational best practices will certainly provide opportunities and inspiration.
Achieving omni-channel success
Manhattan Associates’ customer Country Road Group completed a successful roll out of Manhattan’s WMS. The technology deployment was a key component of a business transformation project designed to deliver a unified brand experience for customers across channels and to drive ongoing business growth.
Country Road Group’s business and sales channels have evolved in complexity and scope as the company expanded its operating footprint. With over 700 stores and a growing online operation, the retailer had outgrown its outsourced logistics services model and recognised the critical need to take greater command of its supply chain. The company made the strategic decision to invest in a new DC and chose Manhattan’s system to orchestrate goods flows through the new DC.
Head of supply chain Australasia, Country Road Group/David Jones Peter Fouskarinis commented: “The Manhattan solution has enabled us to optimise our store replenishment and online order fulfilment processes, resulting in improved product availability and customer satisfaction.”
The Manhattan system’s advanced fulfilment logic for wave management, constraint-based selection and real-time replenishment has been critical in helping Country Road Group realise its omni-channel commerce goals. The system eliminates costly physical counts with auditor-approved cycle counting, and stores can now provide same day fulfilment as a result of a new cross-docking approach.
For more information contact Manhattan Associates on +61 2 9454 5438, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.manh.com.au.
Casella Family Brands has grown from a small family-owned business in 1969 to become Australia’s largest family-owned winery, based in Yenda NSW. The inception of the [yellow tail] label in 2001 propelled the business to new heights and it is now the most powerful Australian wine brand in the world. Twenty-seven per cent of bottled table wine exported from Australia is yellow tail, and it holds the record for the fastest growing imported wine in the United States’ market history. Today, Casella Family Brands ships over 12.5 million cases of wine to more than 50 countries around the world every year. Casella sources fruit from 37 of Australia’s 59 premium wine growing regions including Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, Padthaway, Barossa, Clare Valleys in SA and Mornington Peninsula. It has over 6,000 acres of vineyards, producing over 27 varieties.
Following a sustained period of rapid growth, including the acquisition of Peter Lehmann Wines, the company recognised a need to improve inventory visibility across its business, including two distribution centres. It also wanted to enhance its scalability to ensure it is set up for future growth. To fulfil these needs, Casella Family Brands engaged Manhattan Associates for a dedicated global distribution management and order fulfilment system.
Distribution manager at Casella Family Brands Sam McLeod said: “We have the fastest bottling line in the world, capable of processing 36,000 bottles an hour. Bottling at this speed and managing the volume of inventory associated with this scale of operation requires a strategic supply chain solution.”
The ongoing expansion of the [yellow tail] range and the integration of Peter Lehmann Wines led Casella Family Brands to look to Manhattan’s SCALE to address its demanding distribution management and supply chain execution challenges. Casella faced a number of supply chain challenges prior to integrating the solution, due to the fact that many of its warehouse processes were manual, time consuming and prone to human error.
Increasing warehouse efficiency and visibility
Casella Family Brands chose to implement the SCALE software in order to optimise order fulfilment processes across its various brands. By streamlining distribution and enabling ongoing business growth, the company was able to realise a number of key benefits:
- Increased warehouse utilisation by 22 per cent.
- Reduced labour costs.
- Improved traceability throughout the supply chain.
- Revolutionised planning whilst automating many of the associated processes.
- Enabled the transition from a paper-based delivery system to a completely digital one.
Mr McLeod added: “Previously we were only able to track our stock by total production lot, for example in a run of 30,000 cases, we couldn’t distinguish the difference between the first and last pallet once the stock had shipped. With the introduction of Manhattan SCALE, we can now track stock to the pallet level due to the unique ‘license plate number’ (LPN) placed on every pallet prepared. In the event of a product recall this could save a significant amount of money.
“As a planning tool, SCALE is incredibly powerful,” he said. “We can now arrange as many as 300 shipping containers of stock in as little as half a day. This enables us to release orders for picking at the click of a button as opposed to manually keying in the contents, picking the location of each order and then manually updating once loaded, every day.
“All of our 750ml wine is produced in two different pallet heights. Manhattan SCALE allows us to quickly differentiate between these and if an imbalance is detected, we can produce the required pallet heights from our production line. Previously, these would have been manually restacked,” explained Mr McLeod.
Since implementing the program, Casella Family Brands has also worked closely with its export distributors to ensure they are ordering stock in optimum quantities (full pallets) to ensure it maximises the efficiencies the system provides.
Making an impact across the organisation
By working closely with Manhattan Associates’ consultants, Casella Family Brands was able to efficiently weave the solution into the fabric of the business, making the entire operation stronger. For example, the distribution teams (both export and domestic) were able to plan weekly loading into ‘waves,’ picking of all orders and the allocation of multiple SKU with differing pallet dimensions into containerised loads.
“We can now arrange as many as 300 shipping containers of stock in as little as half a day.”
The Planning and Inventory Team was also able to utilise SCALE for confirmation of production run quantities and obtain real-time status updates on production progress. The Production department now receives advance notification of incoming stock from the production line; and the Export Administration Team retrieves lot numbers for export orders for select customers. Additionally, with the combination of the unique LPN and lot numbers, the Compliance Team now has detailed traceability for audit and potential recall purposes.
“The combined effect of all these advancements enabled by the Manhattan technology has had a tremendously positive impact on our bottom line and has really set us up for future supply chain success. All of which has enabled us to focus on what we do best, producing industry-leading wines to share with the world,” said Mr McLeod.
Based on the success of its engagement with Manhattan Associates, Casella Family Brands is also looking to implement the system across its dry goods portfolio in the future.
For more information call +61 2 9454 5400, email email@example.com or visit www.manh.com/en-au.
Manhattan Associates’ Warehouse Management Solution (WMS) has won the Logistical Innovation award at the 2017 Australian Business Awards.
“This recognition reflects both our 27 years of focus and investment in supply-chain and omni-channel commerce innovation and how our solutions are enabling Australian organisations to respond to their customers’ rapidly changing needs,” said Raghav Sibal, Managing Director – Australia and New Zealand, Manhattan Associates.
“The expectations of today’s consumers are soaring and they want their goods delivered faster and more conveniently. With our WMS and complementary solutions, such as Distributed Order Management, retailers, manufacturing brands, wholesalers and distributors are equipping themselves with flexible fulfilment capabilities. By enabling them to work their whole network harder – leveraging inventory in transit, within stores, at suppliers, as well as in distribution centres – they can fulfil orders quicker and more profitably.”
Manhattan Associations supports Country Road Group, Casella Family Brands, eStore Logistics and Jeanswest, among others.
“Today, companies are facing a highly competitive and continuously changing business landscape,” said Tara Johnston, Program Director, Australian Business Awards. “In this context, the performance of companies depends more than ever on their flexibility, adaptability and responsiveness.
“New technological possibilities have the potential to transform the way companies operate within their respective industries with long-term gains in efficiency, productivity and customer loyalty. Each year, the ABA100 Winners are recognised for their commitment to business and product innovation and for their achievements in transforming business practices and end user experiences.”
The Australian Business Award for Logistical Innovation recognises products and services that provide innovative solutions for new and existing market needs in the fields of logistics and supply chain management.
One of Australia’s largest beverage distributors, Cassella Family Brands, has made some unprecedented efficiency gains at their distribution centres.
Distributor of the Yellowtail wine label, Casella supplies around 27 per cent of Australia’s bottled table wine, holds a record for the fastest growing imported wine in US market history, and distributes more than 12.5 million cases of wine to 50 countries around the world each year.
Following such a sustained period of rapid growth, Casella recognised it needed new technology that could improve visibility of inventory across its two distribution centres (DCs), which could offer the required degree of scalability to improve product availability and drive future growth.
After an 18 month search for the right candidate, Casella settled on a partnership with logistics specialists Manhattan Associates, which has seen implementation of the SCALE (Supply Chain Architected for Logistics Execution) software at Casella’s distribution centres.
Casella Family Brands distribution manager Sam McLeod said the new warehousing software system has made some significant changes to their business, streamlining their old supply chain methods and increasing efficiency by 22 per cent.
“Prior to the implementation of Manhattan’s SCALE software we had something that wasn’t far off a paper based system,” McLeod said.
“We could not scan or log anything leaving the warehouse outside of that which we wrote down and then logged back in through our previous system.
“For us it’s been a big change because now we scan every single outgoing product via unique licence plate numbers (LPNs) which gives us a great degree of traceability that we certainly didn’t have before.”
With traceability being the number one concern in the wine distribution game, McLeod said the new system ensures minimum disruption in the event of a recall thanks to enhanced product monitoring.
“We could run a product, say a Shiraz 1.5L retail product, which would be about 30,000 to 40,000 cases in one hit: Under our previous system if we had a recall based around one hour’s worth of product, we would still have to recall all 40,000 cases to get the required batch, because there was no way of determining what products were processed in a given time period,” McLeod said.
“Now, in theory, we could narrow that range down to 500-600 cases.
“In the event that we had bottles chipped around the mouth due to issues with the corker, we’d be able to mitigate that problem.”
The old Casella system required manual marking of pallets on order sheets, an extensive checking process of 40 sea-containers worth of product each day.
However, now orders are picked, placed in staging areas, and then scanned back out to the containers.
“In simple terms that’s made an awfully big difference to us, this is hours each week that we’re saving because we don’t have to go back and double check.”
McLeod said the new system is anticipated to save Casella three per cent on wages in the coming financial year, a significant share in an operation of that size.
The other major benefit Casella has seen is an increase in the utilisation of warehouse space by 22 per cent.
“Being able to increase our warehousing capacity means that, as we have the fastest bottling line in the Southern Hemisphere, our warehouse is our limiting factor,” McLeod said.
“By increasing our usage of the floor space by 22 per cent, that means we can run to 22 per cent greater efficiency over the course of the year, and that’s a big saving on revenue, which is fantastic.”
McLeoud said the company previously had to employ two to five people allocating stock from different regions of the warehouse to be picked and placed in the loading bays, a task which can now be co-ordinated from a single computer.
“Before we had five people across 500 SKUs, trying to pick independently of one another, but now our system allows us to use up one row before we look at another one, then we can use that up and move on,” he said.
“As you can imagine it’s a very complex equation for individuals to handle, sitting at a computer with data entry, but for scale at the click of a button we can allocate those associated rows, and that’s where the 22 per cent comes in.
“We have the fastest bottling line in the world capable of processing 36,000 bottles an hour.
“Bottling at this speed and managing the volume of inventory associated with this scale of operation requires a strategic Supply Chain Commerce Solution.
“Simply put, thanks to the availability improvements we’ve achieved with Manhattan’s technology, our coveted Yellow Tail brand is seen on more dining tables, on more store shelves, and in more bars, pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants around the world with every passing week and month.”
Manhattan Associates’ managing director for Australia and New Zealand Raghav Sibal said he loved being able to help Casella to improve their business.
“Seeing my favourite wine brand on the store shelf or restaurant wine list always brings a smile to my face and I get great satisfaction from knowing the role Manhattan has played in getting it there,” he said.
“With our global footprint, Manhattan enables companies like Casella Family Brands to deliver on their brand promise to customers all around the world.
“We’re delighted to see Casella Family Brands already reaping exceptional value from its investment in Manhattan’s solutions and we’re confident our solutions will ensure the business’s continued growth for many years to come.”
Manhattan Associates will host its Australian Exchange customer conference in Melbourne next Tuesday, with the event set to provide professionals with a chance to discuss ideas around omni-channel strategies on technology and operations.
The company says the theme around this year’s event, Supply Chain Commerce: Where Supply Chain and the Market Meet,” is representative of Manhattan’s aim to redefine the future of supply chain.
“Supply Chain Commerce represents a fundamental change in how two historically separate functions converge, creating unprecedented growth opportunities between buyers and brands and a tool for executing a successful omni-channel strategy,” the company said.
Manhattan says attendees will hear from industry leaders throughout Australia and New Zealand “who are at the forefront of supply chain innovation”.
“They will have the opportunity to learn how leading organisations are embracing new operational approaches and technologies to help them adapt to the new omni-channel world and help them get closer to their customers. Speakers at this year’s event include Cotton On Group, eStore Logistics, IBM, Motorola Solutions, Super Retail Group and Vocollect.”
Raghav Sibal, managing director, Australia and New Zealand, at Manhattan Associates said the exchange was a great opportunity for customers and industry experts to come together and share ideas.