Blue Yonder held its virtual user conference last week. The warehouse management track featured content on Blue Yonder’s WMS vision, solution enhancements, and customer adoption (See my colleague Chris Cunnane’s post, Blue Yonder ICON: Supply Chains Can Save the World, for a conference-wide overview.)
Matt Butler, Senior Director of Solutions Strategy, titled his presentation “Blue Yonder’s Approach to Ongoing Value Realization in Logistics.” This title logically captures the overarching product strategy for Blue Yonder’s WMS, including current development efforts and long-term vision. Blue Yonder is placing a great deal of focus on architectural advancements to increase the long-term value of its solutions, reduce the total cost of ownership, and enable greater usability and extensibility. At the same time, the company is developing and delivering new SaaS-based capabilities to the warehouse.
New SaaS-Based Warehouse Applications
Luminate Warehouse Tasking is a SaaS-native application that reached General Availability (GA) last year. According to Matt Butler, it has a broader understanding of the relationships between work tasks that need to be performed in order to get product out the door. Matt provided a detailed example of task orchestration by priority based on load dispatch time. Warehouse Tasking can evaluate load dispatch times, then look at the tasks and the time required to complete those tasks, determining the total work and time required to meet the cut-off. The system can evaluate adjacent loads to be dispatched, evaluate the tasks required to meet that cut-off time, and then prioritize order processing based on this more holistic understanding of task processing requirements and process interdependencies.
Blue Yonder Robotics Hub is a new application currently in the proof-of-concept phase. The near-term objective of this initiative is to enable the rapid on-boarding of additional robotics vendors into the WMS arena without the burden of complex integration efforts. In the longer-term, Robotics Hub is part of Blue Yonder’s vision of its WMS serving as the resource orchestration engine for the warehouse. The robotics vision involves bi-directional communication with robotics providers in support of Blue Yonder WMS directing different orders or order lines to one of many robotics zones or manual zones within a given facility.
Dynamic Load Building has been decoupled from Blue Yonder TMS and now offers the ability for WMS users to utilize the load building capabilities separate from a TMS implementation.
“Frictionless SaaS” is the term that was used to describe Blue Yonder’s vision of removing the complexities that have historically burdened WMS implementations and upgrades. Through the utilization of the Luminate Platform and Blue Yonder’s partnership with Microsoft Azure, Blue Yonder is looking to assure that customers can utilize its applications with the greatest ease. This includes the utilization of a more of a standardized, template-based implementation at the outset, enabling ongoing seamless migrations to the latest functionality, and providing an API extensibility framework that allows customers and partners to build value added services on their own. In fact, Walmart’s Jared Easton presented in a separate session on building the foundation to a nimble retail environment. Walmart currently has work in process with Blue Yonder’s WMS and Warehouse Labor Management solutions. Jared noted the value of a solution provider’s extensibility and flexibility and specifically called out the value from leveraging Blue Yonder’s API and identification services to be able to extend Walmart’s proprietary offerings within mobile and IoT platforms.
It is my view that WMS features and functionality are paramount. However, the maturity and rapid evolution of the general IT and WMS markets is certainly placing increased weight on the value obtained from underlying infrastructure that delivers long-term value, effectively raising what was once transactional vendor-client relationships to long-term strategic partnerships.