In this week’s Logistics Insights podcast: Why Warehouse Execution Systems are not only for automated distribution centers.

A number of years ago, a new class of distribution software, the Warehouse Execution System, or WES, was brought to market.

The WES was needed, those early providers said, because most WMS systems did not concern themselves with utilization of materials handling equipment, such as carton sortation systems.

The result: big peaks and valleys in volume through those material handling systems, resulting in lots of wait time and reducing total system throughput.

WES was developed to address that challenge, using algorithms to level-load cartons on to the equipment, and using techniques such as waveless order picking to meet that goal.

That capability can deliver real value for sure, and either increase throughput from an existing system, or reduce the size, floor space and cost of new equipment being planned.

But there has been little focus on WES for manual or only modestly automated facilities. Softeon is working to change that.

Consider this: any sub-process, such as associates working in a case pick area, can be thought of in much the same way as an automated system. There are inputs and outputs – and expected volume levels.

In fact, one interesting attribute of manual processes is that they, in general, don’t have a fixed capacity as a machine might – throughput can be adjusted by adding or removing associates.

And as a result, the Softeon WES – as an add-on to our WMS or as a standalone solution, can balance work and assign the appropriate resources to meet that day’s or hour’s demand in the same way it would accomplish the same task in an automated DC.

Many other Softeon WES capabilities can be leveraged in non-automated DCs as well. For example, Softeon WES provides automated order and task release, based on a wide variety of attributes, including inventory and resource availability, optimization opportunities, service-level commitments, carrier cut-off times and more.

With that, Softeon is delivering what Gartner calls the “autonomous WMS” of the future - today.

And in April 2020, UPS Supply Chain Solutions announced it was building its “Smart Warehouse of the Future” on a software platform of Softeon WMS and WES. It cited a client that achieved 50% in productivity gains from adding a WES – and that was in a manual DC.

You can learn more about Softeon WMS and WES at under the Our Solutions tab. You can also download a research paper on WES for non-automated DCs from the analysts at ARC Research under the Industry Reports section.

We’d love to discuss your WMS or WES opportunities today.