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What Is Order Streaming & How Does It Compare to Warehouse Execution System?

With the increasing conversation about warehouse execution system (WES), warehouse management systems and warehouse control systems, it is easy to feel lost when the concept of order streaming is brought into the conversation. However, order detail streaming is comparable to the WES, reports Bridget McCrea of Supply Chain 24/7, but it has distinct differences and advantages. Let’s take a closer look at what streaming order details are and how it works.

What Is Order Streaming?

Order streaming is a style of picking and warehouse management that exists in direct response to the growth of e-commerce and omnichannel supply chains. In streaming, software prevents the release of batch orders to pickers by giving workers a continuing “stream” of work, which improves operational efficiency and reduces costs associated with lulls in operation throughout the day. Furthermore, order streamline enables the scalability of operations to meet strong peaks in picking and warehousing operations regardless of possible issues, like failing equipment or unavailability of workers.

Why Is Order Streaming Necessary?

Unlike a Warehouse Execution System-based wave-less picking models, order streaming is designed to prevent the creation of bottlenecks in picking, packaging and shipping processes within warehouses. Meanwhile, a WES may still experience waves that result throughout the course of wave-less release of order details. In other words, order and activity streaming is like WES-style picking, but it goes a step further by utilizing the tools and resources available across an enterprise to create the best flow of picking work.

Order Streaming Maintains Higher Flexibility, Essential for “Streaming” High-Priority Orders Into Existing Picking Waves.

One of the strongest reasons for utilizing streaming over WES-controlled wave-less picking is its flexibility. Unlike WES-style picking methods, order steaming leaves enough space within orders to allow for high-priority changes to order fulfillment. In other words, canceled orders or changes to existing orders can be successfully integrated into an existing worker’s pick list without necessarily changing all other picks. Essentially, the system can adjust to changes in work across all activities that occur in the warehouse, not just the release of order details.

Additional benefits of streaming can be realized further down the supply chain as well. For example, transportation activities, including route optimization, the creation of bills of lading and delivery schedules, can be completed continuously, increasing the “stream” of products from warehouse to end user.

The Big Picture for the Warehouse Execution System.

While order streaming and utilizing a warehouse execution system (WES) may appear similar, it is important to remember that these systems have stark differences. Both serve to increase efficiency and reduce the dead time that occurs throughout the day. However, WES systems are limited in their capacity to consider external factors beyond incoming orders. Meanwhile, order streaming systems leverage the existing power of WES systems and combine it with detailed algorithms and eliminating inefficiencies during the picking process to create a holistic, adaptable and efficient supply chain within the warehouse and beyond.