An order fulfillment center’s Warehouse Management System (WMS) is an enormously
valuable workhorse, but one that is not easily adaptable to new Supply
Chain automated technologies. Typically, a separate supervisory control system is
provided to manage and control a case conveyor/sorter system or a basic picking
subsystem. Likewise, changes and upgrades to WMS implementations – new and
old – have proven to be extremely costly and worrisome due to the issues of long
term one-off supportability and the risk of tampering with legacy WMS applications.
Thus, the Warehouse Control System (WCS) evolved from the industry’s need for
a new breed of bolt-on WMS software functions for the management of real-time
communication and the integrated control for many types of automated equipment.
The speed and nimbleness of the WCS is attributed largely to the fact that it isn’t
burdened with a huge database of orders and inventory management functions
or the heavy processing tasks of matching demand with other software products
and labor. The WCS is uniquely designed to intently focus on the exchange of
real-time communications, command processing, discrete equipment signals, and
the optimization of material movement and traffic control tasks where response is
measured in milliseconds.