Coming away from this year’s Modex show, I found myself thinking about our industry and our place within the larger market. And since I was ruminating on these topics anyway, I decided why not share these thoughts and observations.
ERP, WCS, WMS – What are the main differences?
ERP, WCS and WMS are all related services that play key roles in the supply chain industry; a deeper look at the functions of each follows:
ERP – ERP, or enterprise resource planning, is business process management software. ERP is typically a system of integrated applications that allow users to manage their business and automate functions – product planning, development, manufacturing processes, sales and marketing are among the functions ERP software incorporates.
WCS – WCS, or warehouse control system, refers to software that manages, in real-time, the activities within warehouses and distribution centers. WCS is often integrated or bolted-on to an organization’s WMS.
WMS – WMS, or warehouse management system, refers to a system put in place with the key aim of controlling the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse and additionally, processing the transactions associated with inventory, including receiving, put away, picking and shipping.
The Three WMS Tiers
Generally speaking, all WMS software providers fall into one of three categories:
- Tier 1 – these providers serve the biggest companies with the widest and deepest set of functionalities. Their systems support the most complex warehouse functions, are very expensive and time consuming to set up. Full set-up can take anywhere from 6-18 months. These systems are generally used by very large operations, often from 250,000 square feet and above.
- Tier 2 – these providers fall in the proverbial middle ground between tiers one and three. Tier two providers cover all of the basics and usually offer some tier 1 level types of functionality, although this functionality is often limited in some way.
- Tier 3 – these providers offer basic inventory management and lack technological sophistication that goes beyond keeping track of receipts, inventory on hand, shipments and some basic reporting. Today, tier three models can even be online subscription archetypes that can usually be up-and-running in a few days. Naturally, tier three providers offer the least expensive services.
Where SphereWMS Fits In & What Matters Most to Us
At SphereWMS, we’ve worked with clients whose needs fall into all three categories, as the flexibility and scalability of our software allows us to do so. However, the best approximation would be to say we fall right in the middle of tier two and tier three in terms of cost, functionality and implementation, though we do have the ability to create tier one functionality in a customer-specific manner through development work. Fortunately, we are able to do this for tens of thousands of dollars as opposed to hundreds of thousands of dollars and with a less complex implementation process than a traditional tier one implementation.
I’m proud to be able to say we can customize our services to fit our customer’s needs as that lies right in the wheelhouse of what is most important to us as a business: providing customized, easy to use, intuitive products and services and maintaining customer relationships by providing unparalleled support 24/7. We consistently provide small to mid-sized 3PL operations with technologically-sound inventory tracking software and custom apps.