Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Warehouse Execution Systems (WES) are critical technologies for efficiently operating today’s warehouses. They serve distinct and complementary roles. Each has unique strengths and capabilities, and when you put them together, they add value beyond just the sum of the parts.
Let’s delve into the features and advantages of WMS and WES platforms to help you realize their power to optimize your warehouses and keep them running precisely.
What is WMS – Warehouse Management System
A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a software designed to efficiently manage and optimize the various processes and activities within a warehouse or distribution center. Its primary purpose is to streamline inventory management and improve overall logistics.
WMS – The Power of a Global View
A WMS is like the central nervous system of your warehouse. It takes in all the signals from the external environment and establishes a sense of where your operations stand. It provides a comprehensive view of your supply chain and sets your global coordinates.
It sees beyond the warehouse walls. A WMS understands and adjusts to external factors like weather events or labor strikes. This adaptability ensures that your supply chain remains resilient in the face of challenges.
It knows all the tasks that need to be done to bring orders to life and generates a list of them for the warehouse. All of the events outside of the warehouse, like sales orders, purchase orders, transfers, and production orders, are transformed into work by the WMS. This ability streamlines the flow of tasks, ensuring the right work is generated at the right time.
It acts as a hub for various data points, including transportation, labor, and finance. There are many inputs the WMS receives and manages. So, it’s a central integration point for other systems. Chief among its integration points is enterprise resource planning (ERP). It seamlessly integrates with broader ERP functions, such as finance and HR, ensuring your warehouse is in sync with other critical business processes.
A WMS is the king of global inventory management. It maintains a wealth of data, including product information, assigned locations (like addresses in the warehouse), and global stock levels. This comprehensive view optimizes inventory control, and this data is transformed through AI into predictive insights. This can lead to, for example, auto-generated alerts and rerouting of parts to minimize errors and stockouts.
What is WES – Warehouse Execution System (WES)?
A Warehouse Execution System (WES) is a software used in supply chain management to optimize and manage the operations within a warehouse or distribution center. WES software plays a crucial role in automating and orchestrating various tasks and processes to ensure efficient and accurate warehouse operations.
WES – Real-Time Local Execution and Adaptation
WES software has been around for a long time, particularly in manufacturing environments. Today’s WES has been reimagined and updated to serve the complex needs of logistics warehouses. They’re built on today’s newer, advanced technology and are central to modernizing your warehousing operations with automation and AI.
There are many ways a WES complements and adds value to the capabilities of a WMS. The two most impactful are waveless inventory allocation and dynamic job planning and assignments.
– Waveless Inventory Allocation
The WES is the king of local inventory management. The best ones use waveless allocation, removing a big cap on the speed that exists with the way a WMS allocates inventory. Orders that miss a wave no longer have to sit unaddressed while waiting to be assigned in the next wave. Orders continuously flow through fulfillment as they enter the warehouse, allowing them to be processed with agility and speed. This supports just-in-time (JIT) fulfillment rather than waiting for predefined waves and ensures you meet your end-of-day SLAs.
– Dynamic Job Planning and Assignments
Once the WES receives the list of tasks the WMS creates, it gets to work creating a plan on how to sequence each of those tasks and who and when to assign the tasks to. They can be assigned to machines or people. A good WES will make sure work is synchronized to minimize idle/wasted time. A great WES will make sure work stays synchronized as the day progresses and situations change. Everyone starts the day with a plan, and then life happens and the plan gets compromised. People call in sick. Machines break down. When these unforeseen speed bumps happen, a great WES will reallocate and rebalance labor to get plans back on track. The software will do this automatically, too, exceeding human capacity to make the thousands or even millions of decisions that are required in a warehouse everyday to keep operations running smoothly.
This ability to scale decision-making indefinitely is possible because of the advances we’re experiencing with AI. The exponential increase in computational power allows for endless scenario planning and almost instantaneous execution once the right scenario is identified. The WES leverages generative AI to build predictive plans based on historical data. These neural networks continually adapt and optimize algorithms as new data is available, increasing precision and efficiency every minute.
– Intelligent Path Planning
This computational power also extends to path planning in the warehouse. The WES can eliminate congestion by using advanced space and time algorithms to identify the best route for every resource, people or machines. This minimizes overlap and maximizes throughput.
– Optimized Task Execution
WES software was originally created to manage robots in manufacturing warehouses. Clearly, they’ve expanded way beyond this singular focus. AI has advanced and opened the door to managing warehouse operations more intelligently. Robotics integration is still a key component of a WES’s value. In today’s environment where labor is increasingly difficult to find, robots are shouldering much of the burden (literally) to keep goods moving swiftly through the supply chain. They can take on the most time-consuming and labor-intensive activities in the warehouse, especially walking, which significantly boosts productivity.
WMS and WES Integration
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Warehouse Execution Systems (WES) communicate with each other through integration and data exchange mechanisms. Typically, the WMS serves as the higher-level system responsible for managing inventory, orders, and overall warehouse processes. The WES, on the other hand, focuses on the real-time execution of tasks within the warehouse. These systems communicate through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) or middleware, allowing them to share crucial information such as order details, inventory levels, and task priorities. This integration ensures that the warehouse operates efficiently, with the WMS providing instructions and data to the WES, which then orchestrates the execution of tasks on the warehouse floor.
inVia Connect simplifies the integration between inVia Logic WES software and any WMS. It streamlines integration and communication between your disparate systems, allowing for seamlessness in inventory management and order processing. With InVia Connect’s proprietary technology, it reduces manual labor and improves accuracy and efficiency – all while providing real-time visibility into every aspect of warehouse operations.
inVia Logic WES and WMS process flow.
Comparing the Strengths of WMS and WES
While both WMS and WES softwares play crucial roles in warehouse management, their strengths and capabilities differ significantly. Whereas the WMS manages the data and goods that enter into and exit a warehouse, the WES orchestrates all of the movement of goods, labor, and information inside the warehouse’s four walls. It brings the task lists generated by the WMS to life.
A WMS provides a global view of the supply chain, ensuring coordination and integration with broader business functions, while a WES excels in executing local tasks with real-time adaptation, resulting in increased agility and efficiency. Choosing the right warehousing systems that complement each other can turn your warehouse into a powerhouse and a competitive advantage for your business.
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