Why Operations Need a Warehouse Execution System (WES) That Is Ready-to-Run
If you’ve decided to invest in a warehouse execution system (WES) for your order fulfillment operation, you’ve likely done so because you realize the value that the system will bring to your business: True, zone-to-zone integration of all of your labor and systems that allows you to be more efficient and effective.
With something so crucial to your business, you want to know that when launch day comes, things will go off without a hitch. What you don’t want to see? Your break room suddenly overrun with the vendor’s software engineers, actively writing code.
If you’re looking for a WES solution that will be truly ready to run on day one, then you really need to be evaluating your software options based on whether or not the system has built-in emulators. Below, we discuss the importance of emulators in WES development and how you can evaluate a software based on this feature.
Benefits of Emulation to WES
Very few WES solutions come with integrated emulators. And yet, emulation—the ability to test the software in real-world conditions before it officially goes live—brings many powerful benefits.
In short, emulation works like this: As the software vendor and engineers work to design and configure your WES, emulation allows them to regularly test the system’s performance under a variety of conditions. This will usually include “ideal” conditions—i.e., your everyday expected throughput and capacity—as well as peak conditions—i.e., the highest throughput or capacity that your operation sees on its busiest days.
The benefits of utilizing emulators is that you will also stress test the software in order to identify the conditions that would cause it to fail, or otherwise cease functioning at optimal levels. The real value of emulation is that it brings the capability to test the software at many times the speed of the production system. This testing allows hidden bugs to be found such as memory leaks or database creep.
While it’s easy to make assumptions about how the WES will perform, emulators provide you with proof that the system will meet and exceed your expectations, all before the software is even launched.
Other benefits of emulation include:
- Reduced installation time: By stress-testing the software before the go-live date, you can be confident that everything is working the way it was designed. This should reduce installation time, limiting downtime and mitigating break-room coding.
- Fewer database leaks: Emulation identifies database leaks and prevents them from becoming an issue. If you have ever had to shut down and restart your software system to make it work properly, you have memory leaks. They only seem to happen during peak periods, missing shipping times, increasing labor, and often increasing errors.
- Lower costs: By verifying the system before it goes live, you reduce the potential need for software maintenance or additional coding at a later date, which reduces your overall WES costs.
- Ability to scale: Emulation at levels which exceed your current peak performance is important for another reason: It allows you to get a sense of how your system will perform as your business grows and scales.
How to Evaluate WES for “Readiness”
In evaluating potential solutions that you are considering, the primary question you should be asking the vendor is: How is the system tested before it goes live? Their answer should include the use of emulators that test the software against expected and beyond-peak conditions. If it doesn’t, then the system can’t truly be called “ready to run” because it has not been properly vetted.
Another question you can and should ask is: How does your team deal with unexpected surprises during the software launch? While it’s impossible to anticipate all potential challenges, a truly well-tested system should have few surprises during launch, and the vendor’s answer should allude to this fact.
What you’re likely to find as you evaluate different WES options is that not many of them are truly ready to run, because not many of them include the emulation and rigorous testing required to make them so. Plus leaving the emulators live for your team to test and develop future plans rather than paying the software developers.
One exception to this rule is the Horizon WES. Developed with more than 21 man-years or research and development investment, Horizon WES features extensive testing and emulation prior to installation. This reduces implementation time, reduces or eliminates costly day-of engineering, and sets your operation up for true success.
A trusted systems integrator can help you understand your options and guide you to the solution that makes the most sense for your business. Contact us today to speak with a member of the Conveyco Team.