Most fulfilment warehouses need either a WCS or a WMS, but which is right for you?

WMS and WCS in a fulfilment warehouse

As fulfilment technology warehouses evolve, so do their control and management systems. Individual merchants must decide between fufilment warehouses and WMSimplementing warehouse control systems (WCSs), warehouse management systems (WMSs) or trying to combine the two.

Warehouse Management Systems and Fulfilment Warehouses

Modern Warehouse Management Systems date back to the 1980s, and were brought in to store, update and interrelate large order and inventory databases, and add oversight to many non-automated functions, especially in fulfilment warehouses. These systems give managers access to up to the minute data on employee workloads and order processing metrics.

The WMS is a batch-based tool, well suited to inventory control and management within the warehouse or distribution centre.

Warehouse Control Systems and Fulfilment Warehouses

Warehouse Control Systems was introduced in the 1990s to extend existing WMSs. The new systems could balance, allocate and manage the material handling equipment’s tasks in real time, and sought to bring the WMSs advances onto the warehouse’s working floor.

The WCS is about automation, and was developed out of a need for real-time control of shuttles, conveyors and other staples of the modern fulfilment warehouse. It is at its best when receiving order information from a compatible WMS, where it marshals the orders to be sent to human pickers and packers in a timely and efficient pattern of waves.

However, WCSs have grown to take over many roles traditionally allotted to WMSs, and can be used on their own in many fulfilment warehouses. Slotting, replenishing, receiving and many aspects of inventory management can now be handled by most stand-alone WCSs, reducing the need for redundant and expensive systems in smaller operations.

If you decide to use both, the WMS is best suited to the role of primary logic controller. Attempting to do that with a WCS is often unwieldy, and allows for less human oversight and intervention. After all, there is such a thing as too much automation.

 

 


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