MonarchFx Continues to Excite

About the Author
Gene Tyndall
Gene Tyndall

We recently held a very successful two-day open house at the Tompkins International Emerging Technology Center (ETC) in Orlando.  Over 120 interested representatives from retailers, brands, and others were provided a two-hour discussion (the “context”) by our CEO, Jim Tompkins.  He explained what is MonarchFx and why we have developed and are launching it.  Michael Zakkour, our VP for International eCommerce discussed the importance of cross-border commerce and how China and Alibaba are changing retail.  Next, the attendees were provided a two-hour tour of the ETC including demonstrations of different robotics and technologies (the “content”). 

Among other thought leadership topics, Jim discussed the strategy driving MonarchFx, distributed logistics.  Consistent with Jim’s original concept for MonarchFx is the fact that, in order for companies to provide nationwide same day, next day, and two-day order turnaround, they must position stocks closer to consumers and business customers.  This strategic positioning is critical.  However, it does not require all inventories to be located in all metro areas.  Rather, with fulfillment centers located strategically, and automated efficiently, with best in class delivery providers, companies can eliminate most of their CapEx, reduce their OpEx, and obtain a high quality of service.

Also, among other thought leadership topics, Michael discussed the “New Retail” according to Alibaba.  He also discussed the incredible growth of eCommerce in China and the implications for retailers and brands in North America.  He mentioned that MonarchFx is being positioned, along with its global logistics partner, to serve sellers through Alibaba.

These two-days confirmed our experience that, when people visit our ETC and view the robotics and technologies that underpin MonarchFx, they are both amazed and excited about the opportunities, “Viewing is believing”.

We were pleased that follow-up articles from the ETC were published in, in Supply Chain Management Review, and in Transport Topics, by journalists who were in attendance.

For those unable to attend, you can view the robotics and technologies at the upcoming MODEX Show in Atlanta, April 9th through 12th.  You can also arrange a visit to the ETC, simply by letting us know.  We also invite all to our Annual Supply Chain Leadership Forum (SCLF) being held April 30th through May 2nd  in Durham, NC at the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club.

A few more thoughts on distributed logistics.  As I stated above, this strategy drives MonarchFx.  We know, of course, that moving goods quickly has a higher cost, that filling and delivering orders accurately is challenging, and that positioning the right stocks in a decentralized network is capital-intensive.  We designed MonarchFx to meet these needs, at reasonable cost, timely, and with high quality service.  Our solution, imbedding robots and technologies within selected leading Logistics Service Providers (3PL) and serving multi-clients, achieving the goals of cost, time, and quality.  In brief, MonarchFx provides for the “Next Generation Supply Chains”, for the “New Retail”, and for the highly expected continued growth of eCommerce and online order fulfillment. 

A few more thoughts on global eCommerce.  North America based retailers and brands are anxious to sell their products online to International consumers and customers.  The barriers for achieving this have been challenging whether in costs, customs compliance, information technology, port delays, marketplaces, and/or risks and thus have restricted mid-sized producers and distributors from growing their global sales.  Alibaba has the most robust program for solving this problem, by providing the marketplace and distributed logistics for deliveries.  As I mentioned, MonarchFx and its global logistics partner is being positioned to facilitate this opportunity with serving Alibaba and others, for global eCommerce.

Lastly, it will be helpful to state the MonarchFx value proposition for retailers, brands, and others.  As we interact with dozens of potential MonarchFx sellers, the following top six value categories are most attractive:

  1. Cost to Serve.  As stated above, CapEx is not required and OpEx is reduced.  How?  MonarchFx invests the capital to establish the fulfillment center operations.  By serving multiple sellers, and pricing on a Unit-basis, seller costs are reduced and minimized.
  2. Freight Expense Reduction.  Many retailers and brands today spend millions of dollars on transportation, whether inbound to their distribution centers, or to stores, or direct to customers, or even store or distribution center transfers.  These costs can be reduced significantly by re-positioning products closer to consumers, customers, and stores. 
  3. Inventory ROI.  Some have questioned MonarchFx about whether or not this solution will increase the amount of stocks required for distributed logistics.  Our models show, that by smart allocations, stocking policies, and replenishment practices, overall inventories are not increased significantly, if at all.  Storing “A and B items” in selected locations, while supplementing their existing networks for “C and D items”, results in the right products being available in the right locations and the right times.  Today’s inventory planning tools are designed to support this strategy and are moving toward optimized stocking policies for eCommerce. “Sell one, ship one” is becoming the reality we have all hoped for.
  4. Uni-channel Operations.  Jim has explained this innovative idea as we have designed MonarchFx.  While most struggle with “Omni-channel”, we believe the right answer lies in “the single channel”, in that consumers/customers have alternative methods for ordering, delivering, and/or picking up their orders.  Online shopping or buying, with options for delivering or picking up in stores or elsewhere, is enabled by MonarchFx, because it processes efficiently and ships anywhere. 
  5. The MonarchFx Technologies.  When a seller commits to MonarchFx, it receives use of the leading technologies available today.  There are three basic technologies in the MonarchFx platform:

    --SensorThink: This innovative and powerful technology the Internet of Things (IoT) provides for The Connected Warehouse™. This means that everything that goes on in the warehouse (or DC or FC) is known real-time. It also provides the foundation for blockchain.

    --Tompkins Warehouse Execution System (WES). This powerful technology has been integrating material handling equipment for dozens of companies for the past 20 years and is improved regularly.

    --Softeon: Our partner for Warehouse Management System (WMS) and Distributed Order Management (DOM). Softeon is rapidly becoming known as the most rapidly implemented, effective, and usable system for these two key processes. The DOM is especially important for distributed logistics and inventory visibility.

  6. Quality Service.  Our MonarchFx solution makes the best use of the best 3PL’s, by having them do what they do best receive, pick, process, pack, and ship orders.  The order processing for “eachies”, which is an  eCommerce need, is not the same as filling orders for pallets, cases, or cartons.  Only a few of the 3PL’s are expert at this new requirement.  Our partners NFI, DHL, and Kenco, are committed to eCommerce and are serving customers in  new ways.  Moreover, our transportation manager is a well-known freight and delivery carrier serving all of North America. .

To better understand MonarchFx watch Get To Know MonarchFx.

MonarchFx continues to expand and excite.  The more retailers and brands learn about what it is providing and visit the ETC to view it, the more interest grows, and we are asked to model how their use will occur and benefit.  We are opening either five fulfillment centers in 2018, with the first coming online in April located in Chino, CA, with our partner NFI.  No retailer or brand interested in improving and growing its eCommerce operations should postpone visiting the ETC, viewing us at MODEX, and/or attending our SCLF, now or over the next eight weeks.  For more information on the SCLF take a look at the 2017 SCLF Highlights.  We look forward to seeing you and working with you in 2018, 2017 was a great year for Tompkins and 2018 will be even better.

In response to COVID-19 and limiting travel, Tompkins Robotics is now offering interactive virtual tours using a variety of stationary and roaming cameras throughout the facility.  We have the capability to demonstrate five t-Sort systems with various configurations, robots and functionalities.  The main demonstration system includes three different induction types: manual, robotic and A-frame.  Our systems are capable of e-commerce order fulfillment, store replenishment, backroom and parcel / postal sortation.  We can demonstrate the original t-Sort robotic system in multiple dual level configurations and an elevator system to move robots between the levels.  Our larger t-Sort Plus robots run on single level systems with both tilt tray and crossbelt options.  In the very near future we will demonstrate the new t-Sort Mini in an additional system. We have a wide variety of inventory to demonstrate products including general merchandise, apparel, grocery, fragile goods, odd sizes and shapes and a wide range of product weights.  You will also have a chance to learn about the technologies that are integrated into our system such as automated induction, automated charging, integrated weight and dimension capture, our proprietary wireless network and Warehouse Execution System (WES), new innovations such as our automated sorter exit solution and more.  And if mobility and flexibility are important to you, we can demonstrate how easy it is to reconfigure a system, remove or add a sort table, and even fold a table into a smaller footprint for move or transport.