Automation is an important part of the modern warehouse. It ensures stable performance in a fast-paced economy, handles omnichannel distribution tasks with speed and flexibility, and can tackle labor shortages. But successful automation is not just about investing in the right equipment – you also need a warehouse control system (WCS) to optimize processes and act as a messenger to the machinery.

This blog post will discuss what a WCS is and how it ensures you get the most out of your automation solution.

So, what is a warehouse control system (WCS)? 

It is a software application designed to manage how tasks are performed by the goods handling automation equipment in the warehouse, such as cranes, picking stations, AGVs, and so on. Think of it as a police officer directing traffic at a busy intersection – it handles the complex decision logic for how the different automation solutions should work together. Its main tasks are the following: 

 

  • Connection to automation equipment 
  • Routing in automated areas 
  • Orchestrating automated solutions 
  • Flow control 
  • Load balancing 
  • User interaction 
  • Priority handling within automated areas 
  • Exception handling 
  • System monitoring 

 

When do I need a warehouse control system? 

It depends on two factors:  

  1. The level of automation in your warehouse
  2. The complexity of your warehouse automation solution itself 

If you have primarily manual processes with some non-complex automation, your warehouse management system could be enough to control that. But as you add more automation machinery to your operation, the number of different vendors and systems will grow in your warehouse. At one point, there will be too many of them for you to monitor, let alone control, to work together efficiently. That´s where a WCS comes to your rescue providing seamless integration of all automation systems.  

The bottom line is, do not wait until you are in a state of “islands of automation.” It can damage operations and prolong the return on your automation investment. 

graph showing how wcs and wms works

 

What should I consider when selecting a warehouse control system? 

In a supply chain industry that is constantly disrupted, your ability to change and be flexible increases your resilience. Your warehouse control system must support this. Check the following aspects:  

 

Flexibility: Your WCS should have a plug-in architecture that integrates with all types of automation equipment and suppliers, so you are free to choose the automation solution you need to grow your business today and in the future. 

 

Full integration with your WMS: It could be beneficial to have your WCS system from the same vendor as your warehouse management system. Thus, you can run your manual and automated processes in the warehouse with the same logic. The fully integrated solution also allows for easier software updates, faster response times to changes, and a single point of contact for product support. 

 

Summary 

Automation will continue to grow in warehouses. A well-integrated automation solution is more valuable than separate isolated systems – and the WCS helps you achieve that. A good WCS software supports your automation expansion efforts and allows you to manage your automation solutions through a single system – making your life easier and your business more profitable. 

 

Want to learn more about the WCS? Check our WCS solution here.