Critical to a successful implementation of your software solution is a thorough understanding of your economic, technical and organizational needs. Before choosing a new warehouse execution system (WES), you should evaluate your current inventory management system and processes to ensure you get the most out of the new technology.
For a successful warehouse execution system implementation, your team should thoroughly understand and document the problems you expect the new system to solve, and how a new solution can help to automate and improve current and future operations. Selecting a WES that integrates with other technology applications, such as ERP systems, ensures complete control and flow of information between the warehouse and other departmental functions. Using an integrated system also ensures that information is transferred between technology without error.
WES Implementation Strategy: Deployment Options
The Savanna.NET® WES can be deployed either as a comprehensive software solution, or as a partial platform that can be expanded as your business grows and requires further work process automation.
While a WES is able to replace warehouse management system (WMS) and warehouse control system (WCS) applications altogether, its flexibility allows for various deployment options based on your current situation:
- For those with an existing WMS looking to introduce a WCS to assist in automation, it is best to opt for a WES instead of bringing in a WCS — your company will then be able to continue using its familiar WMS by enabling only the WES’s WCS functionality.
- Alternatively, if an organization has not yet introduced automation warranting a WCS, it can still implement the WES, utilize its WMS capabilities, and then activate the WCS functionality when needed. This allows operators to utilize a familiar user interface, reduce training time and shorten the system startup duration.
The Warehouse Execution System Implementation Plan
Before jumping head first into your WES implementation, draft a plan and develop goals for the project. Westfalia will work with you to develop this plan and create an expected implementation timeline.
A typical installation of Savanna.NET® WES takes between 6 and 12 months. If your system needs numerous customizations, plan on a longer implementation process. During the course of your implementation, we will maintain continual dialogue with you. Our in-house staff of software developers works with you to develop a customized and flexible plan to ensure a smooth WES implementation and quality results.
All companies must consider return on investment (ROI) — that is, how long it will take to pay back the capital investment. Most firms consider a good investment to be one in which ROI occurs within one to five years.
The warehouse execution system process produces savings on a wide range of fronts. ROI can come in many forms, including labor savings and cost reductions generated by inventory reduction. The accuracy of the information a WES provides and the business advantage such data offers are often overlooked considerations that add to ROI. When calculating the ROI of a WES, include the cost of the annual software maintenance associated with your system.
When assembling your internal WES implementation project team, ensure all appropriate personnel are involved. The project team could consist of warehouse/operations personnel, IT, customer service, purchasing, etc. Be sure to bring in operations personnel early on and do not wait until the WES is about to go live to involve other members of the staff whose workflow will be directly or indirectly affected by the new warehouse execution system process.
WES software can provide a variety of features. Consider your business plan relative to the warehouse or distribution center. Most standard warehouse management systems are not born out of automation and tend not to interface well with warehouse control systems. The key to all this is to remember that WMS applications deal more with the administrative tasks of a warehouse, such as managing product and its turn, lifecycle and placement; whereas WCS software is directed more toward equipment control, storage optimization and processes for optimal product retrieval.
If a business is only looking just for a WMS system and has no plans to automate the warehouse, then integration is not a critical concern. However, the ability to integrate the WMS and WCS is vital if your company is currently executing or considering:
- Automated product movement with laser-guided vehicles (LGVs), conveyors and other material handling equipment
- Automated labeling of secondary packaging
- Automated palletization or unitization of loads with strapping, stretch film or other materials.
Contact Us to Discuss WES Implementation in Your Operation
While certain aspects of a warehouse execution system implementation are universal, as discussed here, every implementation is unique because no two warehousing operations are identical. If you’d like to discuss a potential WES implementation in your facility or facilities, please contact us now to begin an in-depth dialog.