Typically, the standard warehouse management system (WMS) steals the spotlight from other inventory control, cloud-based systems, but just because it’s a more common software option doesn’t mean that it’s a one-size-fits-all supply chain software. As a matter of fact, busy operations in need of heightened visibility, replenishment execution/management, and dynamic order releases aren’t going to be getting the support they need from most traditional WMS solutions.
Luckily, there’s the warehouse execution system (WES), a software solution that can either be used on its own or paired with an existing WMS to keep a better eye on the movements of products as they travel throughout the supply chain. These features allow you to make more efficient, meaningful decisions, especially while your inventory is in transit.
That said, when confronted with the daunting task of actually shopping for and ordering the software, it can be difficult to discern the true benefits that will be valuable to your operation from the ones that are often highlighted for sales purposes. To remedy that predicament, we’ve created a list of the most applicable uses of the WES; let’s take a look at these 5 most relevant benefits:
- Allows for mobile scanner integration
- Offers comprehensive pick-to-light management
- Offers replenishment execution and management
- Heightens visibility
- Integrates with existing WMSs or ERPs
Allows for Mobile Scanner Integration
Though the latest WMS technologies also come equipped with mobile scanner integration, WES’s come with more advanced capabilities that work to acquire and merge data compiled by automated picking systems into one place. Because warehouse execution systems are considered to be the “latest and greatest” supply chain-based systems, most have been programmed to handle the most cutting-edge automated technologies. This is where the “execution” factor comes into play as the system is quite literally built to execute a wide range of tasks as they move through different technological spheres, including mobile scanner integration.
Offers Comprehensive Pick-to-Light Management
Pick-to-light management serves as yet another example of how WESs are able to execute and manage commands from one automated strategy to another. It’s a detail that is an especially favorable one to operations that have integrated several machine-controlled or collaborative picking operations, in particular. In terms of pick-to-light, standard warehouse execution systems should be sturdy enough to handle all of your shifting pick-to-light tasks, and the holistic management of them, all while entirely removing the need for a corresponding WMS.
Offers Replenishment Execution and Management
One thing that WESs can do that the others can’t is the execution and the management of inventory replenishment. This groundbreaking feature is an especially important one for distribution center operations that:
- must work within limited warehouse space
- operate with a wide range of SKUs and/or inventory with tight expiration dates
- have integrated a number of complex automated systems
The above are all common replenishment issues that can be easily streamlined when a comprehensive WES is put into place. For example, your WES will automatically tell you if pallet space has freed up through alerts that will describe when a pallet has flowed forward. Better yet, the aggregated data compiled by the WES can even be used strategically in which users set up an algorithm that sends custom alerts detailing replenishment space for the most slow-moving SKUs.
It can be argued that other warehouse-based management systems, such as WMSs and WCSs also heighten visibility – which they absolutely do to some extent – but the latest warehouse execution systems take this a step further. Now, there is no great mystery in this; the reason why WESs provide heightened visibility is that most of these systems simply take the best parts of WMSs and WCSs so that users like you can reap the rewards of operating off of a more holistic system. Here are some of the features included in warehouse execution systems that take end-to-end visibility to a new level:
- Basic receiving/shipping management
- Replenishment management
- Inventory management
- Mobile scanner integration
- Pack sort/ship sort management
- Small-parcel manifesting
When all of these features are used in one cloud-based system that allows for 24/7 access, every member of your supply chain will be able to access all data, even as the inventory shifts.
Integrates with Existing WMSs or ERPs
While some operations will benefit from moving onto one WES system, larger warehouses working with the most complex inventory issues may still need to keep their existing warehouse management systems or enterprise resource planning solution. Luckily, most WES’s on the market today offer near-seamless integration that can be used to shore up the areas in which WESs fall short such as:
- Management reporting
- Transportation management
- Reverse putaway
- Order and wave management
Naturally, some systems, especially ones that are built and uniquely customized to fit your operation, will not integrate perfectly. Make sure that you consult with your IT department and/or software supplier before you make changes so that you can come up with a comprehensive warehouse system strategy that benefits your growing needs best.