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Fortna Eyes Data Science to Solve Complex Distribution Challenges

January 7, 2022

Fortna increased investment in a new Science and Technology Center for Innovation, tasked with solving complex challenges in distribution.

“Today’s distribution centers are extremely complex and may store millions of SKUs while processing thousands of orders of varying configurations,” stated Marc Austin, Fortna Chief Solutions Officer. “Allocating the right work to the right people at the right time to maximize efficiency exceeds human cognitive abilities. At the heart of these operations is sophisticated software that syncs the automation, robotics, and people to increase fulfillment speed and efficiency while relieving labor pressure,” continued Austin.

To meet these challenges, Fortna is increasing their investment in solutions research and development with the creation of the Science and Technology Center for Innovation, led by Russ Meller, Principal Scientist. The organization, reporting to Austin, includes PhD scientists and academics who are recognized authorities and innovators in distribution.

The new Science and Technology Center for Innovation is tasked with:

Developing the advanced mathematical models, algorithms, and simulations that drive sophisticated, data-science-based warehouse execution software to optimize complex, real-time, distribution environments.
Developing the next generation of decision support tools that group orders by affinities to increase picking efficiency.

Deepening relationships with emerging distribution suppliers and the technologies that are most likely to revolutionize distribution centers.

Creating integrated mechanical-electrical-digital solutions at the intersection of technologies and warehouse execution software to improve the worker’s experience.

Creating an integrated virtual environment that links simulation, emulation, and digital twins. The platform can simulate a real-time distribution center before it is constructed to validate the design and software infrastructure. It can also record and then playback a live distribution environment to uncover the root cause of a problem, as well as allow “what-if” analyses of possible future scenarios.

The work of the Science and Technology Center for Innovation will result in distribution centers that are more efficient and release a steadier workflow, allowing companies to get the same results with less automation. Additionally, their work will help companies remain supplier-independent and choose the best technology for each process within their distribution center.

“Fortna’s Science and Technology Center for Innovation is tasked with solving some of the most complex challenges in distribution today, using science, modeling, and research to drive faster and more cost-efficient fulfillment,” said Russ Meller, PhD, Principal Scientist at Fortna. “We are bridging the gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what is possible’.”

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