Windows workstation based OS
The J R Controls Warehouse Control System (WCS) uses standard Windows 7 Professional operating system. This operating system provides a familiar and cost effective environment and allows for wide connectivity to devices and hardware. The WCS software does not require and is not intended to run on a Windows server platform.
The WCS software is developed in the Microsoft “.NET” environment using Visual Basic. Applications are multithreaded and are therefore very responsive to the information needs of the host and conveyor systems. All source code is provided for the application.
The WCS operator interface screens have the same look and feel of familiar standard Windows screens. Windows can be sized, moved, minimized and maximized with familiar on screen controls. System configuration and other restricted functions are accessed via operator login.
The application uses a local SQL Compact database in which all carton/tote transactions are kept. The database is the storage location for the initial receipt of routing data from the customer host. The database is subsequently updated as each transaction occurs for each individual carton/tote. The database will keep a record of all transactions for 3 days (or an adjustable time period). Older records are then automatically purged from the database. Database maintenance is automatically performed during low volume times.
Some host systems allow for the retrieval of information by the WCS in a batch format while others require piece by piece interaction. Standard interfaces for batch type applications include file transfer via FTP. Standard interfaces for piece by piece interaction are ODBC and sockets. Other host system interfaces are available upon request (SAP, Oracle, etc..). Divert sorting confirmations will be logged in the local database and optionally sent to the host system.
A PLC communication server is utilized to allow the WCS software to converse with the conveyor control system. This server uses Ethernet communications and will accept unsolicited messages from the PLC upon the arrival of a scan of each new carton. The PLC message will be acknowledged and the WCS will look up the routing information so as to instruct the conveyor controls where to dispatch the carton/tote. The PLC communication server will then send a message to the PLC indicating the desired destination for sorting. The PLC will later send another message to the WCS indicating the disposition of each carton.
System Information / Reports
The WCS software interface will provide insight into the system operation. An operator can query the system for status on an individual carton’s activity, or on an entire shift or day of activity. The information display for a shift or day will show the carton ID, destination information, and time stamps related to each event (info received from host, inducted, sorted). These display windows can sort this information by any of the displayed attributes (similar to sorting files or dates within Windows Explorer). A daily carton activity report is provided which will summarize all carton activity. Other information displays and reports are available upon request.
A Quad Core or better Windows 7 PC is recommended as a minimum. PC hardware can be enhanced to include Solid State Drives (SSD), Raid hard drive controllers, UPS backup, and various LED monitor choices. An industrial PC enclosure can also be provided. Customers can provide their own PC (with a potentially specific OS build) for WCS use upon review of the specifications.
Graphical conveyor status and fault annunciation can be optionally provided on the WCS PC. An optional automatic backup system can be provided in the form of an external encrypted hard drive. An automatic backup will be run every hour creating a mirror image of the database. This mirror can then be used to restore the database on a replacement PC in the event of some type of PC hardware failure on the primary unit. An optional duplicate cold backup PC can also be provided.
WCS Software Commissioning and support
J R Controls has a record of smooth, on time startups. We have successfully commissioned hundreds of material handling projects, many with a WCS system. We provide complete startup support and system training to allow our customers to get the fullest benefit from the system. Each WCS system is methodically tested to prove each function of that system prior to shipment. Then each system is verified again with the customer to insure the required operation and to provide the necessary training to operate and maintain the system.