In this week’s Logistics Insights podcast, a look at three key trends in warehouse management systems, including the move to the Cloud, the rise of Warehouse Execution Systems and the increasing support for automation, such as for mobile robots and putwall systems.

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Full Transcript:  

The top trend in Warehouse Management Systems is probably the move to the Cloud. The reality is WMS was a bit late to the Cloud party, for several reasons.

Perhaps the top were concerns about response times in the Cloud in areas such as wireless terminals, Voice technology, and materials handling systems that require sub-second response times.

But those concerns have simply faded away, with a WMS that has been architected specifically for Cloud performance delivering very low levels of latency.

We’ll note that with Softeon at least, it is possible to deploy a local agent to manage real-time communications for some of the response-time sensitive processes, but in practice this approach has proven to be rarely needed.

Though an on-premise deployment is still available from Softeon, virtually all of our new deployments are in the Cloud, with a number of existing customers migrating easily from on-premise to a Cloud solution to take advantage of the ease of system management.

Our second trend is the rise of Warehouse Execution Systems, or W.E.S. Greatly simplified, Warehouse Execution Systems add new levels of optimization and orchestration beyond what is available even in advanced WMS. 

That includes the automated release of work to the floor based on a variety of factors, including order priority, inventory and resource availability, estimated processing times, carrier schedules and cut-off times, and more, delivering what Gartner calls the autonomous WMS.

Importantly, Softeon’s WES can deliver value in both automated and non-automated DCs – a real differentiator. And we’ll note that in April of 2020, UPS announced it was building its Smart Warehouse of the Future initiative on a software platform of Softeon WMS and WES.

The third trends is around support for automation. Even if not planned for phase I of WMS deployment, a high percentage of new WMS project requirements include the level of support for automation or other types of sub-systems. Of particular heavy interest is support for mobile robots and put wall systems.

It’s not easy to vet just how well a WMS vendor supports these materials handling system, but be aware there are major differences across companies. Softeon, for example, can directly manage and optimize systems such as mobile robots, put walls, pick-to-light and more, with no other software required. This has many operating advantaged, as we’ll explore in a future edition of Logistics Insights.

So there you have it, three important trends in the WMS market. To recap, they were: Number 1, the move to WMS in the Cloud; Number 2, the rise of Warehouse Execution Systems as a complement and in some cases alternative to WMS; and number 3, the growing interest in how WMS supports a variety of materials handling systems, especially mobile robots.

Click to find out more about Softeon’s WMS and WES.