A Warehouse Control System (WCS) is a bridge of communication between automated warehouse material handling devices and the Warehouse Management System (also referred to as a Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP) to bring all of the warehouse supply chain processes into alignment. A proper WCS “links” these seemingly disparate systems seamlessly and operates efficiently into existing WMS infrastructure such as:
A comprehensive Warehouse Control System will include hardware and software solutions to improve warehouse productivity and capacity, manage complex operations and control large inventories, support a variety of processes and levels of automation, and manage multiple distribution centers. The primary functions of a WCS include (Wikipedia):
- Interfacing to an upper level host system/Warehouse management system (WMS) and exchanging information required to manage the daily operations of the distribution center.
- Allocating work to the various material handling sub-systems to balance system activity to complete the requested workload.
- Providing real-time directives to operators and material handling equipment controllers to accomplish the order fulfillment and product routing requirements.
- Dynamically assign cartons to divert locations based on defined sortation algorithms or based on routing/order information received from the Host (if applicable).
- Generate result data files for reporting and/or upload by the Host system.
- Operational screens (graphical user interface) and functions to facilitate efficient control and management of the distribution warehouse.
- Collect statistical data on the operational performance of the system to enable operations personnel to maintain the equipment in peak performance.
Material handling automation technologies are a key ingredient in developing a comprehensive supply chain management solution that allows companies to execute their internal distribution plans. Product handling hardware now needs a seamless integration with the WCS, which, in turn, seamlessly integrates into the WMS. PRoduct handling hardware and services can include:
- Alarm Monitors
- Pick to Light/Put to Light
- Print and Apply
- Report Management
- System Supervisor
- Traffic Cop
- Voice Pick