Roughly speaking, there are 3 ICT layers in a company that support warehouse processes:
The ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning. This is software for the support of all processes within a company. It is mainly a broad solution: the ERP contains mainly master data and the system communicates with all kinds of subsystems. For example, the ERP feeds the warehouse with inventory data, item purchase and sales prices, orders and orders.
The bottom layer contains the WCS, or Warehouse Control System. This layer controls the mechanization, such as shuttle systems, conveyors, warehouse elevators, PLC systems, order picking systems (e.g. Pick to light / voice picking systems) or any combination of these components. Think of this as physical control.
The WMS or Warehouse Management System provides a layer between the ERP and the WCS system and mainly controls the daily operations (such as order picking, inbound, outbound, reporting). The WMS then receives a lot of information from the ERP system and uses this for control. The result: faster deliveries, better visibility and control of stock, fewer errors, etc.
That seems like a very simple overview. In practice, however, the separation between ERP and WMS products is less sharp than previously stated. There are ERP packages with pretty good functionality for the warehouse. And WMS packages that only offer a limited number of features. Or, on the contrary, too many…
Our answer to the question in the title is: “That depends entirely on the current ERP system and on the warehouse requirements.” A basic ERP and extremely high requirements regarding order picking and delivery (yes e-commerce!) do not usually go well together. A WMS can then really provide a boost in performance.
In our opinion, there are no standard solutions in logistics. Each warehouse has its own challenges and we love solving this puzzle over and over again.
Do you have a challenge in the warehouse? Please contact us, we like to think along!