A warehouse execution system (WES) is a software solution that augments a WMS and effectively fills the gaps left by older WMS, bolt-on ERP WMS modules, or legacy WMS solutions. A WMS that also has WCS capabilities for interfacing, managing, and directing automation within the facility would be considered WES functionality.
A WES works the way a warehouse control system (WCS) solution should work, hitting the mark on separating the actual controls layer from the intelligence or brains level of the decision making and management/direction of the automation. It creates the capabilities within the warehouse software to interface and integrate to the automation without taking over the underlying machine controls.
This is important when a business wants to automate in a distribution or manufacturing environment, but the legacy WMS won’t support it. It is also important when a business needs a package that provides WMS capabilities while at the same time enabling advanced technology such as voice picking, pick by light, put by light, carousel automation, or any form of goods to person automation for picking, or any number or types of automation such as a conveyor sortation system or sorter.
This is important when a business wants to automate in a distribution or manufacturing environment and the legacy WMS doesn’t support it. Or, a business needs a package that provides WMS capabilities while at the same time enabling advanced technology such as voice picking, pick by light, put by light, or carousel automation, or any form of goods to person automation for picking, or any number of types of automation such as conveyor sortation system.
As a business scales its automation with warehouse software, it can end up with an ERP, a bolt-on WMS, a hugely exploded scope of a control systems for its WCS capabilities, and then another software package. It can easily get too far down the path with the wrong software packages for where they are going and can end up with multiple solutions in the same facility to meet their needs. It’s ideal if a business chooses the right WMS, WES, WCS solution up front so it implements one software package.
It’s important to review whether you WES is highly customized and what the cost of ownership is, and whether it’s easily upgradeable. Does it control just one form of automation or multiple forms of automation that might be applicable to my operation? It is also important to review how many integration points are required to deliver what is currently needed and in the future.
That is why it is so beneficial to choose the right WMS/WES/WCS solution up front and implement it as one software package. At the end of the day, understand your exact requirements because the terms WMS, WCS and WES are frequently applied incorrectly and vary significantly from one vendor to the next. If you don’t understand this clearly then you can quickly find yourself well down the Rabbit Hole on a highly customized, expensive and complex solution.
When evaluating a WES solution, ask about configurable options, the cost of ownership, and how easy it is to upgrade. Does the WES control just one form of automation or can it control multiple forms of automation that might be applicable to operations now or in the future? It is also vital to review how many integration points are required to deliver what is needed currently, as well as in the future. Ultimately, the goal is to minimize the number of software packages in an operation. A single upgradeable package solution can generate labor savings and reduce the cost of ownership by eliminating one or more software packages in the operation. An upgraded WMS solution with WES/WCS capabilities can often deliver a better ROI to the bottom line in labor savings, accuracy improvements, and cost of ownership for automation software.
In addition, be sure to compare WES software systems on the basis of software, implementation, support and organization as a whole. WES requirements are going to vary based on the industry and operation. Whether it is e-commerce, manufacturing, wholesale distribution, or retail distribution, it’s important to partner with a WES vendor that has the functionality, skillsets and integration/control of automation experience that suits your industry and operational requirements and configurations. With the Intek and Minerva solutions delivering the comprehensive WMS/WES/WCS capabilities for distribution and manufacturing respectively, businesses know they have a vendor partner that can deliver initially and over time, as well.