April 19, 2023
1st in Warehouse Management & Distribution series: Before investing in any form of automation, it's important to evaluate specific needs and understand the principles behind warehouse management
By Mike Weeks, Solution Specialist - Distribution Industries
Warehouse automation has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the growing pressure on warehousing space and labour resources. Warehouse management systems (WMS) and warehouse control systems (WCS) are two powerful technologies that can help companies optimise their warehouse operations. However, before investing in any form of automation, it's important to evaluate specific needs and understand the principles behind warehouse management.
In this blog post, we will explore the key differences between WMS and WCS to help you decide which system is best for your warehouse operations.
Understanding WMS and WCS
A WMS is a software technology solution that manages all processes within the warehouse. It provides real-time data across stock visibility and accurate stock record keeping, automates replenishment, improves responsiveness, and boosts customer service. A WMS is different from a stock control system, which only manages inventory at the stock location and quantity level, but not the warehouse productivity.
On the other hand, a WCS is a system that controls the movement of goods within a warehouse while various types of automation equipment are handling those goods. The WCS is used to control conveyors, sortation systems, and other warehouse equipment to optimise the flow of goods. A WCS, combined with automation devices, can also help reduce reliance on labour, improve accuracy, and reduce errors.
Choosing Between WMS and WCS
When it comes to choosing between WMS and WCS, it all comes down to the specific needs of your warehouse operations. In general, a WMS is best suited for companies that need to manage a large number of SKUs and have a high volume of inbound and outbound shipments. Some of those processes include inbound goods inspection and quality control or handling goods that are unique or out of the ordinary.
On the other hand, a WCS is a better choice for companies that need to optimise the flow of goods within the warehouse and want to reduce reliance on labour. This is particularly useful for companies with large warehouses and a high volume of orders.
In some cases, companies find they need both a WMS and a WCS to optimise their warehouse operations fully. By combining the two systems, companies can get the best of both worlds and achieve maximum efficiency.
Implementing a WMS first will help to manage inventory and shipments, which will provide valuable insights into the specific needs and requirements of the warehouse. By having a better understanding of inventory levels, labour performance, a warehouse manager can make more-informed decisions about how much space is needed to store the goods, which will also help to make better decisions on the type of automation to invest in and when to make that investment.
Warehouse operations are critical to the success of any business that deals with physical goods. By implementing advanced technologies such as WMS and WCS, companies can optimise their warehouse operations and improve their bottom line. However, it's important to evaluate specific needs and understand the principles behind warehouse management optimisation before investing in any form of automation. By doing so, companies can choose the right system for their operations and achieve maximum efficiency and ultimately a better investment profile for their operations.