WCS/WES – What are they and do you need one?
Warehouse Control Systems (WCS for short) grew out of the late 1980’s and early 1990s. At this time, the WMS material handling integrators started to do more than just PLC (low level machine control) work. It started a bit like “PLCs and more” and grew to include things like Pick-to-Light, Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) and more.
Then, at some point in the mid-1990s, some WCS vendors began to blur the line between WCS and WMS. These vendors began using the term WES (Warehouse Execution System). A WES has both WCS and WMS execution-oriented execution functionality. A WES, for example, might take on responsibility for portions of locations it controls and become a “Black Box” to the WMS.
Back to the question, do you need a WCS, WES, or even a WMS?
To us, it is all about understanding the features you want to get to the floor. Which WxS (as we call them – when talking about WMS, WES, WCS vendors) need to be involved to get you there – that is more of the question. Since we view everything as a FEATURE, we start from there. What will it take to use THIS FEATURE vs that feature.
Depending on the feature set you are using you may not even need a full so-called WMS. Let’s look at the features, decide how they add value to you and then understand where in the ecosystem they reside.