A warehouse control system (WCS) is a software application that directs the real-time activities within warehouses and distribution centers (DC). As the “traffic cop” for the warehouse/distribution center, the WCS is responsible for keeping everything running smoothly, maximizing the efficiency of the material handling subsystems and often, the activities of the warehouse associates themselves. It provides a uniform interface to a broad range of material handling equipment such as AS/RS, carousels, conveyor systems, sorters, palletizers, etc. The primary functions of a WCS include:
- Interfacing to an upper level host system/Warehouse management system (WMS) and exchanging information required to manage the daily operations of the distribution center.
- Allocating work to the various material handling sub-systems to balance system activity to complete the requested workload.
- Providing real-time directives to operators and material handling equipment controllers to accomplish the order fulfillment and product routing requirements.
- Dynamically assign cartons to divert locations based on defined sortation algorithms or based on routing/order information received from the Host (if applicable).
- Generate result data files for reporting and/or upload by the Host system.
- Operational screens (graphical user interface) and functions to facilitate efficient control and management of the distribution warehouse.
- Collect statistical data on the operational performance of the system to enable operations personnel to maintain the equipment in peak performance.
Each major function is designed to work as part of an integrated process to effectively link the host systems with the lower level control system, while relieving the Host from the real-time requirements such as operator screens and lower level equipment control interfaces.
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