What is Warehouse Management System (WMS), Warehouse Control System (WCS), and Warehouse Execution System (WES)
Warehouse management solutions are a crucial aspect of any business that handles inventory. How you manage your warehouse can make or break a company, as the movement of your stock directly affects your bottom line. Fortunately, in this digital age, various software options are available to help your business optimise your warehouse and get the best return on investment from your facilities.
This blog post will discuss three options: WMS, WCS, and WES, each of which fulfills a specific role in the warehouse.
All three systems, appropriately implemented, improve efficiency and accuracy in the warehouse, but each has distinct features and functions, so selecting the right one for you is crucial.
Warehouse Management System (WMS)
A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is software designed to manage and optimise warehouse operations such as inventory management, order picking, and fulfilment. It integrates planning, operations, people, and equipment to provide unprecedented flexibility, labour efficiency, and fulfilment accuracy through various enabling technologies ranging from data analytics and machine learning to lights-out robotic automation.
Warehouse Control System (WCS)
A Warehouse Control System (WCS) controls the material handling equipment (MHE) in a warehouse. It is responsible for managing and optimising the movement of goods between different areas of the warehouse by communicating with the MHE, such as conveyor systems, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), and autonomous guided vehicles (AMR)to orchestrate the movement of goods throughout the facility.
At its core, it coordinates automated and robotic components to maintain overall system throughput.
Warehouse Execution System (WES)
Essentially, a WES combines a WMS and a WCS, turning them into a single, streamlined, and synchronous system.
The WES optimises the flow of goods within a warehouse from when they arrive to when they are shipped. It manages and improves the movement of goods and the material handling equipment (MHE) in the warehouse and provides real-time data on inventory levels, order status, and warehouse operations.
Due to continually changing ordering profiles, a fully coordinated solution facilitates the best action at any point in time. The system dynamically, in real-time, reprioritise tasks and optimises site operations.
To learn more about the benefits of a WES, read our previous blog post.
Which One Is Right for Your Business?
The choice of software depends on the nature and complexity of your warehousing operations.
– Warehouses with a high volume of inventory and complex warehousing operations but no need to utilise automation to increase throughput will benefit from a WMS. The WMS will increase efficiency, reduce labour costs, and improve accuracy in these cases.
– For warehouses where there is an existing WMS (with no partner WCS) that requires an automated solution to move orders through the process with minimum human intervention would be best to consider a WCS to augment their existing WCS,
– Businesses looking to make the leap to automated facilities due to high SKU counts, complex operations and the need for highly efficient order processes would benefit from the WES approach. This situation may require a new system, where no system exists or as a replacement for an existing WMS that can no longer support the business objectives.
The good news is that there is software available that can cover all three roles. Our software partner, Matflo, offers a flexible, fully configurable array of solutions designed to address your requirements across the complete supply chain. Ultimately, the decision will depend on various factors, such as the size and complexity of your warehouse operations, the level of automation, and your business’s specific needs and requirements.
We recommend you consult a professional or a warehouse management software vendor like Apex also offers WMS support and warehouse management consulting services for seamless supply chain operations and efficient inventory management to determine the best solution for your business. We’ll help you further understand the roles of a WMS, WCS, and WES to decide which option is best suited to help you run your warehousing operation more efficiently and profitably.