Logistics service provider MonarchFx said today it has adjusted its lineup of industry partners as it prepares to launch its e-commerce fulfillment business in time for the 2018 peak holiday season, choosing software vendor Softeon for its first five DCs and adding the robot makers RightHand Robotics Inc. and SI Systems LLC.
Raleigh, N.C.-based MonarchFx had announced an array of partners including the software vendors Softeon and JDA Software Inc., but now says it will use only Softeon's software products in its first five DCs, according to Jim Tompkins, the founder of supply chain consulting firm Tompkins International who launched MonarchFx in 2016.
MonarchFx chose Reston, Va.-based Softeon because it offered a better integration than JDA between software platforms, relying on a single database for Softeon's warehouse management system (WMS), order management system (OMS), and distributed order management (DOM) products, Tompkins said. That approach avoids the need to synchronize multiple databases, and streamlines the integration with MonarchFx's real-time process control system, the robotic control software platform provided by MonarchFx's sister company, SensorThink, he said.
While Monarch will use Softeon's software for its first five DCs, it will maintain its partnership with JDA, according to Monarch. The firm may use JDA software on future projects as the partners work together to develop future offerings, according to a statement from Steve Simmerman, senior alliances director at JDA Software.
MonarchFx also expanded its robotics partners, saying it was currently running tests at its emerging technology center in Orlando with products from RightHand Robotics and SI Systems. MonarchFx is integrating those products with platforms from its sister company, Tompkins Robotics, that provides a fleet of tilt-tray sorters mounted on small automated guided vehicles (AGVs), he said. A video released by MonarchFx shows these "t-sort" robots in action.
Somerville, Mass.-based automated warehouse picking startup RightHand Robotics makes a piece-picking robot called RightPick that uses a sensorized robotic "hand" mounted on an articulated arm. The product uses soft gripping technology and machine vision to grab individual items from a cluttered tote, an approach the company says is designed for fulfillment centers trying to handle the fast growth of e-commerce.
Easton, Pa.-based SI Systems makes the Mobile-Matic portable, high-speed order fulfillment dispenser, an A-frame system that automatically dispenses items onto a conveyor. This replaces manual picking and re-slotting operations during times of peak demand, the firm says.
The updated partner alliance will allow MonarchFx to stick to its goal of opening a network of five automated fulfillment centers around the U.S. by August, handling e-commerce orders for clients in time to ramp up for the 2018 peak holiday season, Tompkins said.
Those locations will include a site in Chino, Calif., operated by MonarchFx' 3PL partner NFI Interactive Logistics Inc., that is set to begin operations by late April. Other locations will include 3PL partner sites operated by Kenco Logistics and DHL Supply Chain in Columbus, Dallas, Atlanta, and northern New Jersey, he said.
MonarchFx says its alliance of third party logistics (3PL) providers, software and technology developers, and shippers will allow the partners to capture a greater share of the e-commerce fulfillment market by providing nationwide same-day, next-day, and two-day delivery for e-commerce brands and retailers.
Editor's note: This story was updated March 21, 2018, to clarify that the MonarchFx alliance will continue to partner with JDA Software.