Manhattan Associates unveiled its latest WMS, Manhattan Active Warehouse Management, last week during the company’s virtual user conference. The solution is generally available, has an existing active customer in Pet Supplies Plus, and will serve as the natural progression for existing WMOS customers. Manhattan Active WM incorporates a broad range of enhancements including the new cloud-native architecture, redesigned user experience, and a list of productivity enhancements. I view the productivity enhancements as falling into two high level categories – simplification and unification. I believe that those enhancements under the unification umbrella deliver the greater value, achieved by breaking down traditional barriers and silos that enable holistic management, optimization, and execution.
Cloud-Native Technology Platform
Manhattan Active WM is built on a cloud-native technology platform designed for extensibility, ease of upgrade, and scalability. Much of these capabilities are enabled by the solution design of self-contained functional application components, each with its own database and APIs. According to Manhattan Associates CTO, Sanjiv Siotia, Manhattan’s WMS was broken down into about 100 core components, each of which is version independent from the other components. The architecture is also built on a services-first principle, including about 20,000 REST endpoints.
Active WM Productivity Enhancements: Unification and Simplification
The solution’s unified control capabilities are provided through a responsive user interface that is available on a tablet or fixed station. Real-time data visualization extends from a geographical map of facilities, that allows drill-down into individual facility data such as inbound and outbound activity, labor utilization, and tasks by job function. In addition, the mobile application includes a modern touch-screen interface with an intuitive design and embedded employee engagement features, as Steve Banker covered in detail.
The unified planning and optimization capabilities enable simultaneous planning for inventory, orders, labor, automation, and transportation elements. Furthermore, the system enables the simultaneous processing of wholesale, retail, and direct fulfillment. The omni-channel order streaming capability supports the combination of orders from various channels into a single workflow, enabling higher pick density and greater productivity. Agile resource repurposing capabilities are also provided, allowing planners to temporarily dedicate active warehouse locations throughout the day in response to fluidly changing demand patterns. For example, sorter chutes can be repurposed throughout the day to meet the highest priority demand for their capacities.
The new task assignment capabilities can incorporate a wider range of inputs and can therefore assign tasks with greater intelligence. In the past, tasks were assigned according to priority and rough proximity. The new task assignment engine considers priority and travel distance between the end location of one task and the beginning location of the potential subsequent tasks. Furthermore, the engine doesn’t just look at the next task in a linear fashion, but rather looks at outstanding tasks for a given block of time across users. Finally, slot moves are now interleaved with active picking, further minimizing travel time and improving productivity.
Manhattan Associates continues to expand upon its WES capabilities with the goal of orchestrating work across man and machine. Concurrently, the Manhattan Automation Network continues to expand its mission of providing configurable connectivity that is vendor and equipment agnostic. The current list of members includes VCO Systems, Kindred, Matthews Lightning Pick, RightHand Robotics, Locus Robotics, and 6 River Systems.
This article only touches on a sampling of the capabilities within Manhattan Active WM. To be clear, many of the capabilities mentioned are incremental enhancements from prior versions, as the unification theme has been an ongoing journey in the progression of Manhattan’s WMS. However, the breadth and depth of advancements are impressive and certainly more extensive than one can absorb in a short period of time or capture in a single, concise blog post. Stay tuned for some deeper dives into the specific categories of functionality in use by customers.
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