WCS/WES – What are they and do you need one?
Warehouse Control Systems (WCS for short) grew out of the late 1980’s and early 1990s. At this time, the WMS material handling integrators started to do more than just PLC (low level machine control) work. It started a bit like “PLCs and more” and grew to include things like Pick-to-Light, Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) and more.
Then, at some point in the mid-1990s, some WCS vendors began to blur the line between WCS and WMS. These vendors began using the term WES (Warehouse Execution System). A WES has both WCS and WMS execution-oriented execution functionality. A WES, for example, might take on responsibility for portions of locations it controls and become a “Black Box” to the WMS.
In our opinion responsibilities break down like this. There is Floor Execution functionality in the warehouse system and there is coordination. WCS typically is 100% floor execution (and must be told very specifically what to do), and WES has floor execution and some degree (usually very micro-level coordination). The coordination is really in the domain of the WMS to a large extent.
So, to the question “Do I need a WCS or a WES?”
When talking about JDA/BlueYonder WMS implementations, which were built to do automation, the answer is this: WCS – if you are doing conveyor integration – maybe. WES? Rarely would you need a WES unless it is the only way your hardware is sold. Some ASRS devices, for example, are only sold with their own WES which controls them (and then is represented back to the WMS as a black-box).
The good news is in all of this: Members of the GetUsROI team were the original designers of the JDA/BLueYonder WMS and did the very first integrations with WCS and WES vendors. We have more years of experience working with the software and doing Conveyor, WCS, and WES than anyone in the world.
GetUsROI staff members are the automation Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for some of the largest companies in the world. Contact us, at any time, for advice or our observations in all matters of automation.