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The Differences between WMS, WCS and WES

The Differences between WMS, WCS and WES

October 19, 2022

More warehousing operations must embrace smart warehouses with the pressure to maintain competitiveness and profitability mounting.

The warehousing industry has come a long way from when operations were mostly manual. We’re in exciting and cutting-edge times when it comes to warehousing and distribution, there’s no doubt. However, it is a double-edged sword, and to take a leaf out of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, it can feel like, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It can feel too complex and overwhelming with software systems, IoT devices, robotics, automated guided vehicles and goods-to-person systems, to name just a few of the recent innovations in the industry.

That’s where a company like Apex shines because it can find simplicity in a sea of complexity and make a warehousing operation sing and run at peak efficiency.

To help simplify things, we’ve covered three critical components of the modern-day warehouse management software architecture and explained them briefly.

  1. Warehouse Management System (WMS)
  2. Warehouse Control System (WCS)
  3. Warehouse Execution System (WES)

We’re going to make an argument for integrating WMS/WCS into a WES so that your warehouse operation becomes a cohesive powerhouse of potential.

What is a WMS?

In a nutshell, a warehouse management system manages and runs all the processes/functions within the four walls of a warehouse, distribution or logistics centre. These include the collection of data and the operational systems.

What is a WCS

If a WMS runs all the warehouse functions/processes, then a warehouse control system (WCS) runs the logic within a specific component. Essentially, it directs and coordinates the equipment used to handle the products/goods in the warehouse. These include carousels, order-picking robots, AS/RS systems, AGVs, etc.

The ultimate goal is to get the WMS and the WCS to work together seamlessly. While it should be simple in theory, in practice, it’s not. The more automation you add to your operation, the more complex things become. Once again, an experienced integrator like Apex is worth its weight in gold because it can bring in the missing link; the warehouse execution system (WES).

What is a WES?

A warehouse execution system manages, synchronises, and orchestrates tasks driven by automation and humans to create a single synergistic “engine”. Essentially, it turns WMS and WCS into a single, streamlined, and synchronous system.

Apex argues that warehousing and distribution operations, where possible, should switch from a WMS/WCS model to a WES.

The benefits speak for themselves:

  • Simplicity. It reduces complexity and creates a system that is easier to use.
  • Cost reduction. One system costs less in terms of money, time and maintenance.
  • Fewer integrations. If you have several systems, you must find ways to get them to work together. Fewer systems, fewer integrations.
  • Centralised visibility. You have a central source for all your data making it easier to see what is happening in real-time.

Talk to us about whether or not a WES is a viable solution to help you run your warehousing operation more efficiently and profitably. Apex offers WMS support and warehouse management consulting services for optimized supply chain and inventory management solutions.

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