The pros and cons of keeping your WES local
A warehouse execution system (WES) is one of a suite of warehouse automation software that you can choose to direct your daily operations. Sitting between the WMS, which is responsible for overall management, and the machine control or in some cases the warehouse control system (WCS) levels. A WES is responsible for orchestrating the timing and location of order processing to optimize throughput and provide real time visibility to save labor.
Like other automation software, WES can operate “locally,” or on premise, in the cloud, or even in some combination of the two. While cloud-based systems can make sense for WMS—and most WMS will likely exist only on the cloud within a decade—deciding where to host a WES is less nuanced.
While there might be times it makes sense to keep a WES in the cloud, on the whole, there’s a larger case to be made for hosting WES locally. For starters, a local WES works well “on the ground,” as a part of your equipment and overall operations. No Internet connection is needed, and you can rely on its ability to direct equipment regardless of a service breakdown in your wi-fi. When it sits in the cloud, you may have to live without the WES now and again, a costly disruption to operations. Additionally, by having your WES on premise, it can process data at rapid-fire pace, rather than having to wait for data to travel to and from the cloud.
Another argument to keep WES locally and on premise is the flexibility the option provides. You can tailor it/customize it to your needs when on-premises, resulting in improved efficiency and better overall performance. You can customize your user interface, define rules and logic for tasks, and integrate seamlessly with your existing technologies. In the cloud, there are limitations.
Deploying an on-site WES involves several steps, and you should work closely with your provider to ensure you get all of the advantages that a local system can provide. This includes upgrades, and regular servicing on its integration with your WMS and other hardware and software.
The case is strong for a locally based WES, but are there reasons to consider the cloud? The argument for a cloud-based system is data storage with easy accessibility. That’s what makes the cloud a favorite for many types of software. With WES, however, speed, reliability and security are the benefits the system provides—benefits that cannot be matched from the cloud. Whether you deploy on-prem or in the cloud, be watchful of cyber risk and build the necessary protections as WES is a critical asset in the warehouse workflows.
A cloud-based system offers convenience, but for WES, on-site deployment gives you all the control, flexibility and speed to truly optimize your operations. This is one case where on-premise systems has the upper hand, at least today. Technology is constantly evolving, however, so the day may come where a cloud-based WES wins over on-premise. Check with your software provider or integrator to make the best decision for your operations.
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