Warehouse Control Systems (WCS) are software systems that direct the flow of activity within a warehouse. In particular, a WCS is used to control material handling systems and equipment, such as conveyors, palletisers and carousels. They are vital systems, but a sophisticated operation will also require a warehouse management system (WMS).
Why have a Warehouse Management System (WMS) as well as a Warehouse Control System (WCS)?
Manufacturers and suppliers of Warehouse Control Systems often promote them as full solutions. But they fall short of the functionality that a Warehouse Management System has. While they control equipment within a warehouse, a WCS doesn’t have the sophistication of a WMS. Although their functionality is increasing, typically they can’t control picking and order management; they can’t undertake the high-level management of – and reporting on – the flow of stock into, through and out of the warehouse.
However, since a WMS can manage a WCS, integrating the two pieces of software allows a distributor to manage everything through a single dashboard and interface.
So what does a WCS actually do?
The Warehouse Control System coordinates the activities of equipment systems, determining the most efficient product flow and transmitting directives to the equipment controllers.
It can integrate processes and acts as a link between the WMS and the lower level control systems. It also relieves the WMS from carrying out the lower level real-time actions.
For example, a WMS might issue an instruction to a WCS for a crane to move a pallet from a staging area and deposit it in particular racking location. In turn, the WCS then directs the crane and provides detailed feedback and diagnostics to the WMS.
Integrating a WCS with a WMS gives companies a comprehensive view of the warehouse. The resulting overall visibility paves the way for efficient and effective decision making, helping to achieve the required service levels.
How does a WCS benefit a warehouse?
A WCS automates many of the process that manage the flow of stock through the warehouse. They can manage complex material-handling equipment, optimising its utilisation and ensuring that product flows remain effective and reliable.
Able to also direct and monitor the movements and actions of warehouse operatives, they can also drive greater efficiency in the warehouse.
In common with Warehouse Management Systems, a WCS can help a business by giving it full, real-time visibility of stock levels and movements.
If you don’t already have a WCS, adding one can often be more cost effective than upgrading your equipment or replacing an existing WMS or ERP system.
Integrating inconsoMFS with HighJump WMS
Körber, the parent company of HighJump, recently bought Inconso AG, a European logistics software company. Its inconsoMFS system is a WCS that optimises the use of automated warehouse technology, such as conveyors and picking machines. It can dynamically select the optimal transport routes, implement task interleaving and dynamically assign stock destinations. The system integrates smoothly with HighJump WMS solutions to bring a high level of performance capability in the warehouse by creating efficiency of material flow in automated systems.
Do you need a WCS?
In general, it’s high volume operations that benefit from implementing WCS solutions. If your operation is taking too long to get orders out of the door, or you’ve grown rapidly and can no longer handle the volume of orders, then you will probably benefit from the automation that a WCS can bring.
Tying it in with your WMS and ERP systems will help smooth the operations. Your conveyor system will no longer look like a jammed motorway during rush hour; you won’t have to deal with multiple systems to manage product flow; and you’ll be able to ship orders faster than your competitors.
If you’d like advice on which WCS to choose, or how best to integrate your warehouse systems, call us on 020 8819 9071 or get in touch for a quote.