Modern warehouses require software to keep their operations running efficiently and smoothly. There are mainly four types of warehouse software used- ERP, WMS, WCS, and WES. We will look at each software solution’s role in the warehouse and its effect on your operations.
- Enterprise Resource Planning
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is software that businesses use to manage the activities they conduct daily, such as procurement, accounting, risk management, project management, and supply chain operations.
ERP assists warehouses with various business processes and allows for better data flow. The system collects all the organisation’s transactional data from multiple sources, ensuring that it reduces data duplication and promotes data integrity as there is only one source of truth. ERP systems enable the different departments to communicate better, making sharing information easier. The shared information is saved and made available to other parts, where the various departments can use it productively.
Businesses that usually choose to use ERP systems do so for various reasons, including saving costs, improving operations, and expanding business. The software automates and integrates business processes, improving productivity and accuracy while eliminating redundancies. By integrating business processes, the different departments can synchronise work to achieve better and faster outcomes.
ERP enables quick access to information about vendors, clients, and business partners, leading to increased accuracy, quicker response rates, and increased employee and customer satisfaction. The warehouse also benefits from better reporting of real-time information from one source. Complete and accurate reporting is beneficial as businesses can use it to forecast, budget, and plan better and communicate the state of their operations to interested parties, such as shareholders.
- Warehouse Management System
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a software application that enables companies to administer and monitor warehouse operations. It assists in moving goods and materials through warehouses in the most cost-effective and time-efficient manner. Some of the system’s functions include picking and packing goods from the shelves, receiving and putting them away. WMS ensures complete visibility over goods at any location and time throughout all the processes. The system can track inventory as the data comes from radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and barcode readers. This ensures that goods can be found when they need to be moved.
WMS enables businesses to customise their workflow and picking processes to ensure that the warehouse can optimise inventory allocation. To maximise storage space, WMS establishes bin slotting, which also considers variances in seasonal inventory.
WMS is also useful for better labour management. It assists warehouse managers in monitoring workers and their performance using key performance indicators (KPIs), which will indicate which workers are performing above or below the standard. There is also easier reporting with the software as it assists warehouse managers with analysing the performance of warehouse operations and identifying areas where they need to improve.
- Warehouse Controls System
Warehouse controls system (WCS) is a type of software used to manage and direct material handling automation systems in the distribution centre or warehouse. WCS is responsible for ensuring that there is better product flow across the various material handling equipment and sub-systems. The equipment and sub-systems that a WCS has to manage and direct includes pick-to-light modules, carousels, conveyors, sorters, AGVs, AS/RS systems, etc. WCS is perfect for warehouses that operate a highly automated facility as the system ensures that the warehouse runs smoothly and there is a more efficient way of tracking orders as they move through the facility.
A warehouse controls system has various functions; it exchanges information with the host or a warehouse management system to manage material handling functions in the distribution centre or a warehouse. From the data collected from system-level controllers and sensors, WCS can monitor and provide diagnostics. WMS can also determine the most efficient routing of products and transmit directives to equipment controllers.
- Warehouse Execution System
Warehouse execution system is software that assists in optimising, directing, and managing physical work processes, such as picking, packing, receiving, replenishment, etc., in the distribution centre and warehouse. A WES is typically integrated with enterprise resource planning and warehouse management systems. A WES provides distribution centres with efficient and flexible material handling processes. In warehouses and distribution centres, warehouse execution systems improve efficiency and productivity. A WES also takes on two forms- manual WES and automated WES. Automated WES combine a WCS with layers of work planning, management, and release as they synchronise and coordinate the handling and movement of products through automation. Manual WES are similar to automated WES; however, they offer more orchestration, intelligence, and optimisation across warehouse processes, such as picking, putaway, audit, and replenishment. Manual WES also assists distribution centres to optimise and orchestrate resources like robots, people and inventory.
There are many warehouse software solutions available on the market that you can implement within your organisation, but you must choose the best one that aligns with your business needs and goals.