How a warehouse execution system can improve automation and throughput
A warehouse execution system (WES) goes beyond a typical control system and is designed to enhance a company’s automation and throughput.
Warehouse execution systems insights
- A warehouse execution system (WES) is designed to improve a manufacturing facility’s performance by focusing on execution.
- Many companies are forced to do more with less these days and a WES can help companies fill those gaps by enhancing and prioritizing automation.
A warehouse execution system (WES) is similar to a warehouse control system (WCS), but it goes beyond that and can offer more for customers. Martin McLean, president of Ascent Warehouse Logistics, said a WES is designed to improve and automate inbound operations, fulfillment, storage systems, robotics, machine controls and more in a warehouse facility in his presentation “Optimizing warehouse execution and warehouse control systems with automation” at Promat 2023 at McCormick Place in Chicago.
What all of these have in common, McLean said, is improving performance. “A WES is a right now, high-speed, real-time responsive platform for getting tasks done in the most efficient way possible. A WES implemented correctly should have a pretty ridiculous return on investment (ROI) for a company.
Companies are looking for an advantage any way they can, McLean said. This is especially true because of economic concerns and the continuing labor shortage. There aren’t enough people to manage operations like before. These gaps can cause major safety and logistics issues if they aren’t properly addressed.
“Many companies are trying to do more with less,” he said. “A lot of that is related to square footage. It’s hard to find new building spaces and even if you can, it’s very expensive.”
As for labor, McLean said that is a recurring theme that has become more prominent. “Labor is an issue. Every client or prospect we have, it’s usually the first thing they mention. They’re using automation to offset because the tasks they’re replacing are considered dredge work.”
Benefits of using a warehouse execution system in a facility
McLean said it’s all about getting the most of the company’s labor and developing throughput. Today’s modern facility is fast, efficient and accurate and a WES can help companies in those areas.
“It’s about performance,” he said. “A WES lets you execute at higher levels than before, but it’s all about how far you want to go.”
Benefits of using a WES system include:
Execution systems are responsive, real-time solutions that can synchronize operations.
They provide real-time feedback on operations and help utilize labor so they can respond.
A properly designed WES will be designed to scale to the operation it is designed to improve.
Companies involved in seasonal work can tailor their operations to meet the fluctuating demand and keep shortfalls from occurring.
“Know your situation and facility and what you have to do,” McLean said. “Define the ROI and be sure to ask ‘Why am I doing this?’”
Companies also should ask how this benefits the workers and will it improve their performance and morale. It isn’t necessary, he said, to dig everything up and start over if the basic performance is there. The WES should augment what already works while correcting the areas where it doesn’t.
McLean said it all comes back to the “execution” in a WES. “We want to achieve the highest rates and accuracies in every area of the operation,” he said.
Chris Vavra, web content manager, CFE Media and Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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