Intelligent Investments

Introduction

Whether you’re designing a greenfield site, or upgrading your current controls system at an existing site, distributors must decide what system they will use to drive their conveyable MHE. Most solutions fall into one of two camps: PC-based controls systems and PLC-based controls systems. 

More often than not, both options come packaged as the premier solution for a facility—the magic bullet that will lead to a quick, accurate, and competitive orderfulfillment process. Unfortunately, amid the hype and sales-speak, one might struggle when determining the differences between PC- and PLC-based controllers, and which one of these options will help achieve both short- and long-term business goals. 

PC- and PLC-based controllers run on two very different architectures. Still, immediately following deployment, it would be hard for the casual observer to notice any difference between these two systems. Assuming either system was effectively implemented, both would drive the necessary conveyances, both would perform the correct functions as programmed, and both would be free of problems for the immediate present.

However, in the modern warehouse, few things remain stagnant. The rise if omnichannel distribution has resulted in a fundamental change in the way distribution centers function. Using warehouses to simply push predictable store replenishment orders has been replaced by a need to satisfy a constant flux of order profiles being pulled through distribution centers. To facilitate these changes, distributors require solutions and software that allow flexibility and agility: solutions that allow them to meet their distribution goals in the present and the future. This means implementing changes that provide the ability to maintain, pivot and improve the efficiency and power of existing MHE, and the hardware and software controlling it, down the road. 

This paper will explore how various controls systems account for this shift. Specifically, it will discuss why and how PLC-based controls systems prove superior to PC-based controls in the age of omni-channel distribution. In short, PLC-based controls provide the necessary flexibility needed to mitigate risk, reduce implementation times, and contain capital expenditures as a warehouse grows, ensuring that distributors maintain a competitive advantage in the face of the everchanging world of supply chain.


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