WCS, WMS and WES Systems

Intralogistics Software
May 23, 2023
Automated Picking System
Automated Picking Systems
May 23, 2023
Intralogistics Software
May 23, 2023
Automated Picking System
Automated Picking Systems
May 23, 2023

WCS vs. WES vs. WMS: Understanding the Differences

A well-optimized warehouse is essential for efficient supply chain management. However, with the number of warehouse management systems available, choosing the right one can be a challenge. In this blog post, we will compare and contrast WCS, WES, and WMS systems to help you make an informed decision. 

Warehouse Control System (WCS)

A WCS is responsible for controlling and optimizing the movement of materials and inventory within a warehouse. It is a software system that manages the flow of work in real-time, coordinating the activities of automated material handling equipment and integrating with other systems like WMS and ERP.

 

Benefits of a WCS:

Planning: The system should be able to create waves or batches on the WCS side, or receive waves from WMS (Warehouse Management System), and manage them through completion. This ensures that the warehouse processes are optimized for maximum efficiency.

Automation: The WCS should be able to communicate with different automation equipment such as conveyors, sorters, robots, and AS/RS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System) to ensure that the material handling processes are automated and streamlined.

Integration: The system should have the ability to plug in and out equipment from various suppliers, enabling the warehouse to upgrade or change the equipment without impacting the overall system.

Order Fulfillment: The WCS should manage the picking process, ensuring that the right items are picked and delivered to the right location in the warehouse.

License Plate (LPN) tracking in real-time: The system should be able to track the movement of items and their location in the warehouse using LPN technology, providing accurate inventory information.

Visibility: The system should provide a Human Machine Interface (HMI) of the automation system, allowing the operator to monitor and control the equipment in real-time.

Real-time notification services: The system should provide real-time notification services via text, email, instant messaging, or other means on errors, alerts, and warnings, ensuring that the operator can take action promptly.

Business intelligence and reporting: The system should provide business intelligence and reporting on the WCS level, including statistical information on automation equipment, enabling the warehouse to identify areas of improvement and optimize their operations.

 

Warehouse Execution System (WES)

A WES optimizes the flow of work and resources within a warehouse by orchestrating material handling processes, labor management, and order fulfillment. WESs are often designed to support both manual and automated processes and enable real-time control of all warehouse operations.

Benefits of WES:

Order Management: The WES should have the ability to manage and process orders from various sources such as eCommerce, WMS, and ERP systems. This ensures that the warehouse can fulfill orders accurately and efficiently.

Inventory Management: The WES should have real-time inventory visibility and control, enabling the warehouse to maintain accurate inventory levels, reduce stockouts, and prevent overstocks.

Labor Management: The WES should have labor management capabilities, allowing the warehouse to optimize its workforce by tracking employee productivity, managing schedules, and identifying areas for improvement.

Task Management: The WES should be able to manage tasks such as picking, putaway, and replenishment, ensuring that the warehouse can process orders quickly and efficiently.

Automation Integration: The WES should be able to integrate with various automation equipment such as conveyors, sorters, robots, and AS/RS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System), enabling the warehouse to automate material handling processes and reduce manual intervention.

Real-time Visibility: The WES should provide real-time visibility and control over the material handling processes in the warehouse, enabling the warehouse to identify and resolve issues quickly, before they impact operations.

Analytics and Reporting: The WES should provide analytics and reporting on key performance indicators (KPIs) such as order fulfillment rates, inventory accuracy, and employee productivity, enabling the warehouse to continuously improve its operations.

Scalability and Flexibility: The WES should be scalable and flexible, allowing the warehouse to adapt to changing business needs and technologies quickly and easily. It should be able to support multiple warehouses, handle different order volumes, and integrate with different systems and equipment.

 

Warehouse Management System (WMS)

A WMS is a software system designed to manage warehouse operations, including inventory management, order fulfillment, and labor management. A WMS typically provides inventory tracking, stock optimization, and order management functionality, among other features.

Benefits of WMS:

Order Management: The WES should have the ability to manage and process orders from various sources such as eCommerce, WMS, and ERP systems. This ensures that the warehouse can fulfill orders accurately and efficiently.

Inventory Management: The WES should have real-time inventory visibility and control, enabling the warehouse to maintain accurate inventory levels, reduce stockouts, and prevent overstocks.

Labor Management: The WES should have labor management capabilities, allowing the warehouse to optimize its workforce by tracking employee productivity, managing schedules, and identifying areas for improvement.

Task Management: The WES should be able to manage tasks such as picking, putaway, and replenishment, ensuring that the warehouse can process orders quickly and efficiently.

Automation Integration: The WES should be able to integrate with various automation equipment such as conveyors, sorters, robots, and AS/RS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System), enabling the warehouse to automate material handling processes and reduce manual intervention.

Real-time Visibility: The WES should provide real-time visibility and control over the material handling processes in the warehouse, enabling the warehouse to identify and resolve issues quickly before they impact operations.

Analytics and Reporting: The WES should provide analytics and reporting on key performance indicators (KPIs) such as order fulfillment rates, inventory accuracy, and employee productivity, enabling the warehouse to continuously improve its operations.

Scalability and Flexibility: The WES should be scalable and flexible, allowing the warehouse to adapt to changing business needs and technologies quickly and easily. It should be able to support multiple warehouses, handle different order volumes, and integrate with different systems and equipment.

 

5 Key Differences Between WCS, WES, and WMS –

Focus: The WCS focuses on managing and controlling the movement of material handling equipment, while the WES focuses on managing the entire warehouse execution process, including equipment and labor, and the WMS focuses on managing inventory and order fulfillment processes.

Level of Automation: The WCS is primarily focused on automating material handling equipment, while the WES is more focused on automating and optimizing all warehouse processes, including material handling and labor. The WMS is less focused on automation and more on managing inventory and order fulfillment processes.

Integration: The WCS is often integrated with automation equipment from various vendors, while the WES integrates with both automation equipment and labor management systems. The WMS integrates with other systems such as ERP and TMS to manage inventory and order fulfillment processes.

Real-time Visibility: The WCS provides real-time visibility into the movement of material handling equipment, while the WES provides real-time visibility into all warehouse processes, including material handling and labor. The WMS provides real-time visibility into inventory levels and order fulfillment processes.

Complexity: The WCS is often considered the simplest of the three systems, with a focus on managing the movement of equipment. The WES is more complex, with a focus on managing and optimizing all warehouse processes, and the WMS is the most complex, with a focus on managing inventory and order fulfillment processes, often involving multiple warehouses and distribution channels.

 

In summary, while all three systems play a critical role in modern warehousing operations, they differ in their focus, level of automation, integration, real-time visibility, and complexity. 

The WCS focuses on managing material handling equipment, the WES focuses on managing and optimizing all warehouse processes, and the WMS focuses on managing inventory and order fulfillment processes.

Understanding the differences between WCS, WES, and WMS is crucial in choosing the right system for your warehouse. It’s essential to assess your warehouse’s specific needs to determine which system best suits your business.