Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Industry leaders from the Supply Chain Execution (SCE) Systems and Technology Group of the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) recently led a discussion on the changing nature of warehouse management system (WMS) and warehouse control system (WCS) applications.
A WMS is a key part of the supply chain and primarily aims to control the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse and process the associated transactions, including shipping, receiving, putaway and picking. The systems also direct and optimize stock putaway based on real-time information about the status of bin utilization.
WCS is a software application that directs the real-time activities within warehouses and distribution centers. As the traffic cop for the distribution center, the WCS is responsible for keeping everything running smoothly, maximizing the efficiency of the material handling subsystems and often, the activities of the warehouse associates themselves. It provides a uniform interface to a broad range of material handling equipment such as AS/RS, carousels, conveyor systems, sorters, palletizers, etc.
In recent years, a number of WMS software developers begun offering both a WMS and a WCS. As the boundaries between WCS and WMS applications have blurred, some industry experts worry that DC managers are getting confused as to what's needed to make their operations run smoothly. They're not sure whether they need a WCS, a WMS, or a hybrid.
Supply chain and logistics executives need to study their options closely when determining which type of software is right for their operations.