Warehouse automation integration is the ability and capability of a software solution to integrate with different forms of automation within a warehousing distribution and/or manufacturing environment.
Those forms of automation could be goods to person, ASRS, conveyor systems, sortation systems, vertical carousels, horizontal carousels, vertical lift modules, pick by light, put by light, voice technology, robotics, etc.
Since there are so many hardware automation solutions available today, it is critical that the WMS, WES, and WCS have the architecture and functionality to direct automation within one software package, as opposed to multiple silos of automation and multiple integration points. A system that can pull all that together without having a myriad of complex and difficult to maintain integration points is ideal. Executing on a singular warehouse software automation platform reduces upfront cost, increases initial and long-term ROI, and reduces cost of ownership significantly. By contrast, using multiple software packages in the same warehouse drives up implementation cost and increases complexity at the operations, IT, and warehouse management levels. The fewer software packages a business operates in a warehouse, distribution center, or manufacturing operation the better. Less is better for the users, financial ROI, efficiency, cost of ownership, maintenance, and upgradability.
When evaluating a software automation solution, it is important to understand whether it is customized or in production elsewhere as part of a standard package that is either configurable or tailored to the application. Often, WCSs have outgrown the lower level controls environment to bridge the gap between the automation equipment and the WMS or ERP, as opposed to filling the gap as a WCS/WES with the underlying PLC drivers to support the automation equipment. It is best to avoid customizing software or using multiple platforms and layers of control when all that is needed is a single standard warehouse automation software product tailored to the business with the necessary WMS/WES/WCS capabilities. Because Intek and Minerva offer comprehensive WMS/WES/WCS capabilities for distribution and manufacturing, they are able to deliver complete solutions that help businesses improve today and over time, as well.