Warehouse automation can help you increase throughput, streamline processes, reduce overhead, and minimize human error in your facility. Warehousing software and the systems it supports are essential to automating key processes and collecting valuable data, but it’s important to choose the right software system for the job. In this article, we’ll review how to choose the best warehouse management solutions for your facility.
Warehouse Management System (WMS)
The most general type of warehouse management solution is the WMS, or warehouse management system. A WMS is a software system that can help coordinate the many of the tasks you usually carry out in your facility, such as picking, receiving, putaway, quality control, labeling, order routing, receipts, shipping, and so forth.
In general, a WMS is a great way to improve the way you manage your facility since it gives you visibility over where things go and control over general processes. It can be a good stepping stone toward warehouse automation, though it mostly serves to give you information on where everything is in your process at any given moment.
Warehouse Control Software (WCS)
For more direct control over individual processes, a warehouse control system (WCS) is often the right solution. It handles the actual functionality of your processes, such as controlling conveyors, sortation devices, scanners, and so forth. It’s central to automation, and it’s one of the best warehouse solutions for those looking to reduce human error or streamline labor costs.
Some of the most reliable WCSs use a SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system in order to carry out their functions. This system allows for communication with your WMS to send data back and forth, giving you complete visibility over your automated processes. This data paves the way toward system improvements and increased reliability through condition monitoring and predictive maintenance, further streamlining overhead costs.
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)
When it comes to controlling individual functions in an automated process, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are the key. A PLC is a rugged industrial computer designed to control the individual functions of machines, such as the conveyors, sorters, and other equipment used in your warehouse. They do this by constantly monitoring the state of your machines and sending commands to keep everything moving smoothly.
PLCs are integral to any fully automated warehouse, and they combine well with a WCS, which can transmit instructions to the computer to execute specific functions.
Paperless RF (Radio Frequency) Warehouse Technology
Another type of technology that can be integrated into a warehouse management solution is a paperless RF (radiofrequency) system. RF warehouse technology uses handheld scanners and devices to handle picking and putaway without the need for paper forms.
When connected with your WMS, RF devices direct your staff members toward the items that need to be picked to fulfill orders. As items’ SKUs are scanned, the system updates the order and directs the worker toward the next item that needs picking.
RF warehouse systems can be combined with other technologies as well, such as pick to light / put to light, which uses LED lights to direct staff toward items that need to be picked/put away. This can speed up picking and reduce the risk of human error.
AGV MiR Software
Many warehouses use vehicles as part of their internal processes, and those vehicles can be automated just like any other component in your facility. Automated vehicles—known as AGVs (automated guided vehicles) or robotic fleet vehicles—are the primary way to accomplish this.
MiR fleet software is used to program and manage your robotic fleet, and it has a wide range of functionality that makes it perfect for a fully automated facility. Prioritization protocols allow the system to select the right machine for the current need based on its position, availability, the nature of the task, and so forth. AGV software is ideal for facilities that want to automate everything in their warehouse and keep systems as hands-free as possible.
PrecisionWare360, A Solution Customized WCS For Your Business
Naturally, the ideal solution for your facility will often incorporate multiple components. Our warehouse software solution—PrecisionWare360—does exactly that, bringing WCS, WMS, and compatibility with PLCs, paperless RF technology, and so forth into one cohesive system. The end result is an optimized solution that can automatically handle picking, stocking, returns, inspections, etc.
We can help you determine which software and hardware solutions are right for your facility and implement them in a system that matches your needs. To discuss your project, contact Precision Warehouse Design today.