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Dec 2015 - Perspective - Doc # US40166215

Perspective: WMS Versus WCS — Complementary Roles in a Highly Automated Network

Author: John Santagate Research Manager, Supply Chain

This IDC Manufacturing Insights Perspective takes a look at the different uses and functionalities between warehouse management systems (WMSs) and warehouse control systems (WCSs) — terms that are often used interchangeably, incorrectly. Each of these systems provides value, and while there are some functional overlaps, there also exists some distinct differences between the two application types. Nearly all warehouses and distribution centers (DCs) today rely heavily on technology to guide operations and ensure that facilities operate efficiently. However, manufacturing and distribution networks today are quite complex with many individual nodes, each operating as a part of the overall organization. The roles of WMS and WCS within the manufacturing and distribution network are certainly similar, yet they are complementary systems, each designed for a different purpose but both involved in the movement and positioning of materials and product. As automation continues to proliferate through warehouses, there will be an increase in the need for both WMS and WCS within the network. This Perspective explores the purpose and functionality of these two systems and helps draw the line between these complementary applications.

IDC predicts that by 2018, 40% of manufacturers will be investing in robotics and automated guided vehicles within their warehousing operations to drive automation into their fulfillment center. As robotics and automation technology continue to proliferate, the appropriate utilization of WCS applications and their effective integration with WMS applications will subsequently increase in importance and impact for manufacturing supply chains.

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