What is a Warehouse Control System (WCS)?

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Many fulfilment centers that do not have substantial levels of automation can be able to get by for a while, using Warehouse management systems (WMS) to be the main software that runs their business.

As organizations seek more efficiency in order to compete in their market and satisfy customer demands through the addition of automation to their equipment as well as other tools and processes, it is often evident that an extra layer of computer software is required to extract as much benefit from the equipment as it is possible.

Often, this prompts the manager of operations to start considering the installation of the WCS for warehouse management systems (WCS).

If you’re considering the implementation of a WCS in your company to complement your WMS, It’s crucial to ensure that you’re asking the right questions prior to deciding to take the plunge.

While a WCS might be appropriate for some businesses, many companies are realizing that a different kind of warehouse software – a Warehouse execution system known as WES may be more suitable for their requirements.

What is a Warehouse Control System?

The warehouse control system (WCS) is a program or application that transmits tasks to the systems within the warehouse. It instructs the warehouse system on which tasks they must complete to transfer products and orders from receiving to shipment. A WCS ensures that everything takes place in the correct order in order to improve the efficiency of the warehouse.

The WCS is a subset of that of the warehouse management software (WMS). It allows real-time execution control for automated equipment like AGVs, robotics, conveyors, AS/RS cranes and sortation systems.

Understanding Warehouse Control Systems 

Warehouse control systems provide the crucial connection between WMS software and automated equipment. Let’s have a look.

What Does a WCS Do?

A WCS regulates the movement of goods throughout the warehouse to ensure an efficient and seamless flow from receiving to delivery while also providing real-time directions to equipment controllers and operators for the proper routing of products and delivery.

The WCS supports different interfaces and has the ability to connect with a range different “Host” Systems. The interface options are Shared Table, ODBC, TCP/IP Sockets, and Web Service. Additionally, custom interfaces can be offered.

It retrieves data from outside sources and transmits it to the various floor-level controllers, such as the Server, PC, PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) or PC.

The WCS also comes with OPC (Open Platform Communication) software, which allows for direct communications with Industrial Controllers such as PLCs. 

It may be necessary to tell the PLC the lane assignments for sorter, pass/fail details to reject a diverter or for any other purpose that needs WCS-directed routing.

How Does a WCS Function?

Warehouse Control Systems are the middleware that typically sits within the WMS and floor-level control for the different “Islands of Automation.” These Islands of Automation include, but aren’t restricted to:

  • Systems of Goods-to-People
  • Voice Pick
  • In-motion Weighing
  • Carousels
  • Pick/Put to Light
  • In-Motion Print and Apply
  • Automatic Sortation

The Host system typically gives the necessary information for the automation to perform its duties. The information may be based on the following features:

  • Weight Targets
  • Labeling Data
  • Exact Lane Assignment
  • Order Profile Information

WCS does not just provide the ability to store and record data but also produces reports that fall into three categories: current, historical and maintenance.

The current reports include statistics on performance, such as processing rates, throughput rates, errors, as well as scan rates.

Additional information may be added to the report, provided it doesn’t impact the functioning of the device but provides valuable information to the user. After being logged, the reports are added to History following a time frame and then archived for future use.

Maintenance reports offer information on the performance of the system, like the description of any errors and downtimes for occurrences and the total amount of downtime.

What are the Benefits of Using a WCS?

There are many advantages to having a warehouse control system, for example:

Better workflow: A warehouse management system can aid in improving the overall workflow within the warehouse through coordination of the work of material flow and labour.

This coordination could lead to greater efficiency in the use of resources and time, which results in higher productivity.

The historical performance data: It’s important to constantly evaluate and monitor the operational performance in order to ensure that your technicians and service staff have an understanding of the time when maintenance of equipment is required.

WWith these details easily present, you would be able to avoid sudden downtime or interruptions to your company.

Improved Visibility: WCS gives real-time monitoring, control and diagnostics of automated systems based upon data taken from controllers at the system level and sensors, which include real-time information on the status of orders, inventory levels and progress of picking.

This increased visibility will aid in identifying problems early enough in order for corrective actions to be swiftly taken.

Improved Efficiency: Enhance the effectiveness of different sub-systems for handling materials like AS/RS as well conveyor belts by coordinating the material handling systems to identify the most efficient product flow. In addition, the WCS can be utilized to optimize the storage capacity, which results in lower operating costs.

What is the distinction among WCS and WMS and WES?

It’s crucial to understand the ways in which a warehouse control program differs from the warehouse management system (WMS), also known as the warehouse execution system (WES).

A WMS manages the implementation of transactions within the four divisions of the storage, including Packing/Shipping, Receiving, Replenishment/Picking, Inventory Control and Put-away.

A WCS is an additional layer of the WMS that provides real-time management of equipment that is automated, such as sortation systems, conveyors, AS/RS cranes, robots and AGVs inside the distribution centre.

A WES can be used to plan activities that aren’t available in the WCS and create an Optimal Execution Plan based on the current situation within the business, such as employee management, customers’ orders, the level of inventory, plans for transportation and so on.

The plan takes into account real-time constraints like equipment malfunctions or understaffing to offer the most efficient way to take.

How to Select the Best WCS for Your Business

When selecting a control method for your company, There are a variety of factors to consider, such as:

  • What kind of products do you can store and deliver
  • The layout and size of your facility
  • The number of SKUs that you manage
  • Your order volume
  • Your labor force
  • Your budget

It is also important to take into consideration any plans that you may be considering for the expansion of your operations. A WCS that is flexible will ensure it can expand in line with your company.

When you’ve taken into consideration the various aspects and have weighed them all, you’ll be better positioned to select the best WCS that meets your requirements. It could result in an increase in productivity and efficiency at your warehouse.


What can a warehouse control system accomplish
Warehouse control systems (WCS) are an element of the Warehouse Management System (WMS) and provide real-time execution control for automated equipment like conveyors and sortation systems, AS/RS robotics and AGVs in the distribution centre.

How can you differentiate between WMS as well as WCS?
A WMS manages and optimizes broad warehouse processes like the management of labour, inventory management and order fulfilment, while a WCS manages the logistics of a warehouse. WCS handles real-time tasks and the execution of automated equipment within warehouses.

What is WCS automation?
A WCS is a computer system that integrates with a WMS in order to provide additional control and functions for warehouse operations. The WCS communicates with and controls the equipment that is automated within the warehouse, including sortation, printing and application, pick-to-light, carousels, goods-to-person shuttles, and robot arms.

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