CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
January 21, 2019
Forward Thinking

Manhattan updates WMS software with warehouse execution module

Enhancement to allow simultaneous waved and waveless processes.

Supply chain software developer Manhattan Associates Inc. said it has embedded a warehouse execution system (WES) module into its warehouse management system (WMS) software to help users handle direct-to-consumer e-commerce fulfillment and traditional retail store replenishment.

Atlanta-based Manhattan also enhanced its WMS by allowing users to practice either waved or waveless fulfillment in the same building at the same time, helping them process e-commerce orders as well as traditional bulk shipments.

The updated platform allows material handling automation providers "to plug right into our WES module, then orchestrate workflows across both man and machine," Manhattan President and CEO Eddie Capel said at the company's annual user conference in Hollywood, Fla.

"Up until now, the wave was the best way to get efficiency from your warehouse, but with order streaming, you can process wholesale, retail, and direct-to-consumer orders simultaneously," Capel said. By using both approaches in the same facility, users can avoid the cost of reserving a specialized part of the warehouse to handle e-commerce orders, he said.

While Manhattan had already supported order-streaming in past versions of its WMS, the updated version allows DCs to follow that process at the same time they are using waves, Adam Kline, senior director for product management at Manhattan Associates, said in an interview.

That capability allows companies to handle single e-commerce orders in the same facility that is processing bulk pallet orders, without missing a parcel carrier's pickup deadline and having to pay themselves to expedite the shipment, he said.

The new version provides the WMS with data that has traditionally been the purview of warehouse control system (WCS) or labor management system (LMS) platforms, such as impending pickup deadlines, equipment maintenance schedules, and labor availability, Kline said. Providing that data directly from an embedded WES avoids the technology complications of managing integrations with exterior software platforms that may be provided by a variety of vendors, he said.

By integrating those sources of data into a single WMS, the latest version balances the competing priorities of ensuring high picking accuracy and fast picking speed, he said.

Manhattan will also add an interface to its WMS that gives supervisors a single hub to see, diagnose, and fix problems with warehouse performance, the company said. Known as Unified Distribution Control, the feature combines touchscreen technologies, data visualization techniques, and advanced analytics. The interface also includes a version for warehouse employees that helps them streamline task completion and reduce training time by using a mobile app, Kline said.

Ben Ames is Editor at Large and a Senior Editor at Supply Chain Quarterly’s sister publication, DC Velocity.

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