Understanding Supply Chain Software: WMS, WCS, & WES

What are the Benefits of Using Supply Chain Software?

Choosing the best supply chain solution for your business can be tricky, especially when considering large investments to better manage warehouses. Each solution available features system-specific functionalities that can help organizations meet or exceed benchmark KPIs. By researching each of these systems in depth, businesses can accurately determine which solution best meets their needs.

SSI SCHAEFER is an industry leader in customized Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Warehouse Control Systems (WCS), and Warehouse Execution Systems (WES). These systems help operations track inventory, avoiding out of stock scenarios with forecasting functionalities. Additionally, these solutions allow companies to increase fulfillment rates and optimize operations through managing inventory, labor, and tasks. Our team of supply chain experts compiled this guide to clarify the differences between these three systems, empowering readers to make informed decisions.

WMS, WCS, & WES Software: An Overview

What is a WMS?

A warehouse management system (WMS) is a specialized application that gives businesses visibility into inventory flow, offering the most features out of the three solutions mentioned here. Capable of supporting multiple distribution centers, a WMS controls the flow of inventory within warehouses, tracking products from arrival to departure. Able to integrate with supporting systems like labor management systems (LMS), yard management systems (YMS), transportations management systems (TMS) and more, the WMS aggregates information from all connected systems for a comprehensive view of inventory flow.

Total inventory control and distribution center management functions set Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) apart from WCS and WES solutions. A WMS can track and control inventory across multiple channels and facilities from purchase to shipping, while WCS and WES cannot.

Of the many functions a customized WMS offers, there are several primary capabilities to consider when considering a WMS as an option. A WMS can accurately control and give insights on returns processing, receiving, put away, picking, packing, shipping, and more.

What is a WCS?

A WCS is an integrated control solution that manages the flow of inventory across automated resources in a distribution center. Automation equipment can include conveyance systems, automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), carousels, sorters, and more. The majority of WCS solutions use logical destinations to route inventory through a facility, avoiding bottlenecks and slowdowns.

While WCS solutions are typically less comprehensive than WMS solutions, a WCS is able to re-route traffic in a facility if resources are experiencing high volume. Ultimately, this allows facilities to operate more efficiently and ensure timely delivery of product.

What is a WES?

A warehouse execution system (WES) manages the order start within a distribution center to increase production volume. Considering available automated and manual resources, a WES chooses when an order should start. This effectively balances the flow of inventory and workload in a facility, allowing more orders to use available resources. Small to medium sized operations often turn to a WES solution to help with inventory fulfillment. For a more complete picture of inventory management, organizations require the addition of a WMS.

Most WES systems are very dynamic and include elements like waveless order processing/dynamic order start, dashboards for operation visibility, and configurable business logic.

Which solution is best for my organization?

While there is no cut and dry solution for warehouse software, there are several areas to assess when considering investing in a WMS, WCS, or WES. An organization should look closely at the following, while also considering industry best practices and size of operation:

  • The scale of automation in a facility
  • Whether a facility is single or multi-channel
  • The number of end-users the software will serve
  • The importance of inventory management to the organization, including the potential added value of a warehouse software solution

Highly automated facilities may rely on a WCS or WES without any issues, while centers that desire complete inventory transparency often require the addition of a WMS for total visibility.

Choosing the correct solution is a large undertaking. Discussing your options with a team of supply chain experts is a productive way to gain clarity and confidence. SSI SCHAEFER has a long history of helping clients choose the best supply chain solutions for their needs. Reach out to our team of experts for a free demo and learn how our customized solutions help clients achieve clarity and reach business goals.

How Can I Get More Information?

Contact the WAMAS team at SSI SCHAEFER by completing our information request form! A representative will reach out to schedule a free demo and discussion on your organization’s options.

Additionally, you may download the SSI SCHAEFER “Navigating Distribution Fulfillment Software” Best Practice Guide by clicking the link below. 

Dig deeper into the functions of supply chain software with this guide compiled by the experts at SSI SCHAEFER.

Best Practice Guide: Navigating Distribution Fulfillment Software

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