Warehouse Control System vs. Warehouse Management System
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Warehouse Control System vs. Warehouse Management System

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There are several misconceptions about the functionalities and capabilities of a WAREHOUSE CONTROL SYSTEM as compared to a WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM. A WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM is a planning system designed to manage movement and storage of materials within a warehouse and distribution center. Despite being an extremely valuable resource in warehousing and distribution operations, customizing a WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM to control warehouse automation and material handling subsystems can not only be very expensive and time consuming, but also jeopardize future WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM upgrades. To address this issue, many companies are now turning to the WAREHOUSE CONTROL SYSTEM.

A WAREHOUSE CONTROL SYSTEM, on the other hand, is an execution system designed to direct real-time activities within a warehouse and distribution center. A WAREHOUSE CONTROL SYSTEM provides a single point of connection between a WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, ERP and/or host system and the “shop floor”, ensuring all floor activities are running smoothly, maximizing the efficiency of operators as well as warehouse automation and material handling subsystems such as Pick to Light, Voice Picking, RF, Conveyor Systems, Sortation Systems, Automated Labeling Equipment etc.

The WAREHOUSE CONTROL SYSTEM landscape is changing rapidly, whereby the new breed of WAREHOUSE CONTROL SYSTEMS is equipped to handle most of the WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM functions and more, but at a much lower cost.

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  • Start off by wishing everyone a Happy St. Paddys Day
  • The presentation will last approximately ½ hour followed by questions. Don’t forget to enter your questions on the screen Objective of this webinar is to educate the attendees on the differences between a WMS and WCS, help you determine if you can benefit from a WCS, and if so, how to get started. What this webinar is not is an opportunity to bash WMS or show that one is better than another. They each have their place in the enterprise
  • AL Systems is a provider of the new WCS as we will discuss later in this presentation
  • Once you start down the path of customizing a WMS, it is hard to get the benefit of new standard functionality due to cost of upgrades
  • Think of it in terms of piloting a boat. Suddenly you become aware of a storm up ahead and you have very little time to turn the boat in a different direction to avoid the storm. Would you rather have to turn the large, slow & cumbersome ocean liner or the small, quick & nimble speedboat?
  • The WMS management of POs, Inventory, Locations, Orders and Shipping has been mostly about managing the data with some RF based activity support Traditionally the WCS has been about controlling the automated material handling equipment. The important area of providing human interface control for the execution of DC activities such as…. Had been lacking. Best of Breed vendors stepped in to fill this void.
  • (each pick/case pick) (catch weight, lot verifications…) Order checking and QA
  • Information Flow – A stock out at pick location results in no further cartons going to that location for picks until replenished. Managing execution…an example is applying a shipping label via P&A and then reading the label on the shipping conveyor to divert to correct lane Enterprise visibility – example would be the out of stock condition described above or a round robin feed of cartons based on pick line traffic Productivity – capturing individual performance and combining with workload to optimize resource usage
  • There is no magic number, for example, you need a WCS if 5 or more of these are true. You need to look at the impact of each of these on your business, the improvement and benefits a WCS can provide weighed against the cost
  • Baseline – look at performance in all areas of the DC; Receiving, Put Away, Replenishment, Order Picking/Packing, Shipping, and ALWAYS measure errors. Errors are very costly! Profiles – Mining for Gold! you will likely find some interesting and previously unknown trends that have significant impact on your operating performance. For example, 80 – 20 rule for SKUs, yet not properly sizing or slotting those SKU locations. Seasonality Customer Orders – ordering products together or ordering similar quantities of a product. Don’t compromise – Analysis shows we can use Pick to Light to pick 150 UPH but WMS can only support RF at 100 UPH
  • Cost – Advice is get fixed price from WMS & WCS vendors. Do not accept T&M
  • Cost – Advice is get fixed price from WMS & WCS vendors. Do not accept T&M
  • Cost – Advice is get fixed price from WMS & WCS vendors. Do not accept T&M

Warehouse Control System vs. Warehouse Management System Warehouse Control System vs. Warehouse Management System Presentation Transcript

  • WMS vs. WCS Jim Iversen, CEO Mark Kushner, COO Lloyed Lobo, Director of Business Development
  • Agenda
    • AL Systems Company Overview
    • The Role of a WMS
    • WCS
      • Why A WCS
      • The Traditional Role of a WCS
      • The Evolution of the WCS
      • The WCS Today
    • Do I need a WCS?
    • WMS & WCS – Working Together
    • Simon & Schuster Case Study
    • Q&A
  • Company Overview
    • Over 30 years of long-standing client relationships
    • Strong team of Distribution Experts - Systems Analysts, Engineers, Software Developers, Project Managers & World class Customer Support
    • Design-Build Model - Operations Assessment, Design, ROI Analysis, Build and Implement, & Support
    • Best of Breed - Lights, Voice, RF, MHE…
    • Functionally rich, configurable, personalized
    • Single connection to WMS, ERP and/or enterprise systems
    • Productivity Management, Reporting & Resource Balancing
    AL Systems provides clients with Warehouse Control and Order Fulfillment solutions that optimize the flow of merchandise through their distribution centers.
  • The Role of the WMS
    • WMS made their debut in the mid 1980s
    • The WMS acts as a business planning system focusing on planning the "business needs" of the warehouse (POs, Orders, Inventory Locations, Labor)
    • As the “System of Record” the WMS maintains and manages a vast amount of information such as inventory data, purchase orders, customer orders, and historical data.
    • The WMS processes large amounts of data in a non real-time mode to arrive at the daily workload of what is to be processed by the material handling systems and labor resources on a day-to-day basis
    • The WMS manages the non-automated operations in a DC
    • Manages information across multiple facilities and the system can physically reside offsite
    • WMS employs highly standardized software products that provide well defined services. Customized modifications to WMS can be extremely costly and threaten future upgrades and support.
  • Why A WCS? The Warehouse Control System (WCS) evolved from the industry’s need for a new breed of bolt-on software functionality for the management of real-time communication , the integrated control of many types of automated equipment, and the lack of functionally rich, configurable order fulfillment solution . The speed and nimbleness of the WCS makes it uniquely designed to focus on the exchange of real-time communications, command processing, discrete equipment signals, and the optimization of material movement and traffic control tasks where response is measured in milliseconds, and conditions change at a moments notice.
  • Traditional Role of WCS
    • Warehouse Control Systems emerged 20 years ago to bridge the gap between higher level information systems, such as Warehouse Management Systems, and the warehouse floor by allocating, balancing, managing , and monitoring tasks executed by disparate automated material handling equipment and subsystems in real time
    • Using business rules , and real time data , a WCS synchronizes the activities of multiple automated equipment subsystems, human resources, and material flow, and drives control decisions and exceptions .
    • A WCS provides a uniform interface for a variety of equipment to the upper level management systems such as WMS
    • A WCS optimizes asset utilization
    • A WCS operates within the four walls of the facility and the system is resident in the facility
    • Modular in nature. Employs easily configurable and customizable software to meet the unique, and ever-changing business process requirements of an industry or company
  • Making Beautiful Music Together “ Think of your operation as a symphony orchestra. The Warehouse Management System is the composer , creating a musical score that features reeds, woodwinds, and strings, together making beautiful sounds. But anyone who has ever heard the dreadful noise that an orchestra makes when tuning up knows that it needs the conductor to pull it all together. In this case, the conductor is the Warehouse Control System, making sure the material handling “instruments” perform in perfect harmony and efficiency.” John T. Phelan Jr., P.E
  • Traditional WMS-WCS Landscape User Interface Reports Alerts Host Interface Manage Inbound POs & Receiving Manage Outbound Orders & Shipping Inventory, Storage & Location Management User Interface Reports Alerts Host Interface Equipment Communication & Control DC Activity Execution Receiving, PutAway, Replenishment, Picking, Packing, Shipping WMS WCS B-O-B
  • The Evolution of WCS
    • So…..
    • WMS – manages information and controls inventory and
    • WCS – drives equipment and people
    • But…..
      • The Line between the two has become blurred over time and functions sometimes overlap
    • Resulting in…..
      • The WCS that was once a bridge between a WMS and a PLC – has
      • now grown in functionality
    • The WCS has begun to play a larger role in order fulfillment and
    • warehouse management execution
    • Different vendors offer different functionality
  • WCS Today
    • WCS Today….
    • Information flow drives Material flow in the DC
    • Managing execution of tasks by disparate automated material handling
    • equipment and subsystems in real time
    • Directing Human Task/Activity Control Such As:
      • Receiving
      • Put Away
      • Replenishment
      • Order Picking
      • Consolidation
      • Sortation
    • Providing Human Interface Control at point of Action
      • Workstation Displays
      • RF Terminals & Displays
      • Light Directed Communication
      • Voice Directed Communication
    • Provide enterprise visibility of real-time operational conditions
    • Managing exceptions and control decisions in real time
    • Providing historical performance data and resource productivity metrics
  • The New Landscape User Interface Reports Alerts Host Interface Manage Inbound POs & Receiving Manage Outbound Orders & Shipping Inventory, Storage & Location Management User Interface Reports Alerts Host Interface Equipment Communication & Control Activity Execution Receiving, PutAway, Replenishment, Picking, Packing, Shipping WMS WCS
  • Do I Need a WCS?
    • Your current process is inefficient and it takes too long to get a product out the
    • door
    • Your conveyor system has cartons everywhere, but going nowhere fast
    • You’re creating back orders even though the product is in stock
    • You’re shipping the wrong products, the wrong quantities or to the wrong
    • location
    • Your order profile is changing; More orders, Smaller orders, Fewer lines per
    • order
    • Your shipping customized orders (Value Added Services, customer specific
    • paperwork, Labeling, Cartonization)
    • Current operation requires too many “work-arounds”
    • Unable to measure & track individual and overall productivity
  • Do I Need a WCS?
    • You’re growing fast and can’t handle the volume, without adding more people
    • and more space
    • It is getting expensive to keep modifying your WMS system to meet your
    • operational requirements
    • Information flow is not automatic
    • Employees travel long distances between actions
    • Too many SKU touches are required
    • Picking SKU’s in item number sequence rather than optimized pick path
    • Still using paper (or RF) for directing activities
    • Adding automation and equipment to your process
    • Need for a lot of decision points
  • I need a WCS - So now what?
    • Baseline current performance so you can measure progress
    • Take a good look at your current operation and create profiles of your
      • SKUs
      • Purchase Orders
      • Customer Orders
      • Inventory
    • Identify any future events that will impact your operation in the future
    • Take a good look at your current processes. Re-engineer where appropriate
    • to optimize material flow through automation and human control
    • Determine whether your WMS can provide the complete functionality needed to
    • support your specific new process requirements. If so, at what cost? Don’t
    • compromise!
    • Where it cannot, put these on the list of processes to be supported by the WCS
    • Find a WCS that can provide the functionality required to at an acceptable cost
  • Other Considerations….
    • Balance the roles of the WMS and WCS
      • Utilize WMS components for functionality that WMS products typically do
      • well
      • Utilize WCS components for functionality that WCS products typically do
      • well
      • Minimize overlap of functionality and data - Assign functionality to a single
      • component to avoid maintenance in multiple systems
    • Data
      • Share core data whenever possible to avoid data synchronization
      • problems
      • Define what data is “owned” by the WMS and what data is “owned” by the
      • WCS?
      • How much data is duplicated between the WMS and the WCS?
      • For duplicated data, what is the risk of data becoming out of sync and how
      • is data re-synced?
      • What data is shared between the WMS and the WCS?
  • Other Considerations…
    • I nterfacing
      • Determine interface requirements
      • What is the optimal method (or methods) of interfacing based on the
      • required touch-points between the WMS and WCS?
      • What is the cost of interfacing the WMS and the WCS?
    • Reporting and Monitoring
      • Can the WMS and the WCS utilize a single reporting solution? If not, can
      • data from both systems be merged into single report?
      • Can the WMS and the WCS components be monitored through a single
      • mechanism?
  • Pre-2008 WCS
    • Manhattan WMS – RF Receiving, Putaway, Replenishment, Inventory Management
    • Order Picking by Labels (paper)
    • AL Systems DynaTrack – Controlling the movement, auditing, sortation and tracking of Vendor Cartons & Customer Orders throughout
    • Hytrol Conveyor
  • Benefits of Paperless INSERT TABLE OF FUNCTIONALITY FROM Oracle Article
  • 2008
    • Replaced Paper Picking with Voice Picking
    • Unique design that automatically distributes the work to areas that need it.
    • Consolidated from 2 to 1 DCs
    • $5 mil savings - Less than 1 year payback
    “ We had a choice of putting voice picking in our WMS, in our WCS, or standalone. We decided to use the voice picking system provided by our WCS system, largely because there is a close interface between order picking and our conveyor systems because orders are on the conveyor system, and that is controlled by the WCS. We see the WCS as the backbone of our operation” -Dave Schaeffer-VP Distribution and Fulfillment
  • Recap
    • WMS and WCS fill two very different complimentary roles
    WMS WCS Planning the business (Composer) Executing the business (Conductor) Manage the non-automated operations Control the automated equipment , human resources, and operations Process vast amount of non-Real time data to plan and manage the business Use of real time data & business rules to control execution of activities in the DC Multi-facility Within the four walls of the DC Manage the expected Manage the exceptions Highly standardized, well defined functionality, expensive to change Modular, highly configurable and customizable, inexpensive to change
  • Recap
    • Assess your business issues to determine if adding a WCS will benefit
    • you
    • If the benefit is there, don’t rush in. Review your current operations and
    • processes to understand where you can improve the process
    • Find the right WCS that provides what your WMS does not. Don’t
    • compromise.
    • Where overlapping functionality exists in both, select the component that
    • best meets your process requirements
    • Design how the WMS and WCS will work together
      • Functionality
      • Data
      • Interfaces
      • Reporting
  • Other Resources
        • Upcoming Events:
        • http://www.alsystems.com/events
        • AL Systems YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/alsystems
        • White Papers:
        • http://www.alsystems.com/white-papers
        • Further Information:
        • Lloyed Lobo
        • 973-586-8500 x223
        • [email_address]