AJ Whalen, Wellesley Information Services
I recently moderated a web forum with IBM‘s Chris Moose on implementing SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM). Chris took questions on the WM to EWM conversion, handling task creation, HUs and pick exceptions, goods issue, serial numbers, end user training, and other topics.
For the full Q&A, you can view the questions and Chris’s responses in the SCM Forum, or read excerpts from the transcript of the Q&A below.
Also, be sure to look for details on Chris Moose’s next online Forum, scheduled for November 2, on SAP Transportation Management. Join the SCM Group for registration details as soon as they’re announced.
AJ Whalen (moderator): Welcome to today’s SCM Forum on warehouse management and SAP EWM.
We invite you to post your questions for IBM’s Chris Moose. Chris h
as worked with many early adopters of the SAP EWM software, and can give his advice on pitfalls to avoid, along with how to plan and evaluate your warehouse management needs, what differentiates SAP EWM from past SAP warehouse management processes, and how to prepare for migrating from legacy WM tools to SAP EWM.
Thank you, Chris, for joining us today and taking questions over this next hour. Since there is a question already in the forum, I will let you start with that one.
I’ve seen in your material that you used a pre-configured model of EWM. Is this model based on what SAP delivers for EWM or is it similar to IDES?
Also I noticed you used building blocks. Are they delivered by SAP or are they custom created?
In case you use the kit to order process, is it possible to mass generate HU for kits?
Chris Moose: Hey – thanks for asking. The pre-configured EWM model is similar to IDES in that it is a jump-start on some basic configuration settings.
And lastly yes, you can mass create HU’s in the kit to order process but I think it is important to map the kitting process with the HU’s and how they might be consumed or used.
Claudiu Maxim: Hello Chris,
I have the current situation in which a warehouse task is generated to pick a certain HU in order for it to be transferred to the GI-ZONE. This is due to consumption in ERP. The issue is that I have a pallet in which I have 200 of these HUs (all with the same batch number). The WT suggests a HU, but it is rather difficult to send the picker to search among the 200 HUs to find and confirm it in the RF environment.
I would like the system to let the picker choose his WO on which he is working and allow him to scan a random HU and repl
ace the one from the pick WT (if, of course, it is from the same batch). I know I can use Exception handling, but this might prove to be used a lot and so it is not an exception anymore.
At the storage type level, from which I pick, I have put the Level of Avail. Qty to value 1 – Storage Bin, as the theory states, but it doesn’t help. Have you got an idea of what should be done?
Chris Moose: I understand your dilemma. SAP WM had similar problems as you outline but in EWM there are some additional criteria you can use during the task creation that allow it to be neutral on the HU (a HU neutral task). I agree that having a ton of pick exceptions is not the way to go as that would hamper subsequent analysis on why picks might not be performed as you planned. So I think the task-creation process is where you should probe and I think it is possible to have it be neutral in the scenario you describe.
Claudiu Maxim: Hi Chris,
Thanks ever so much for your response, I will keep digging into the task creation issue. Another question would be if you can recommend a faster way of uploading stock in EWM through ISU. Right now we are confronted with the situation in which we will receive tens or so .csv files to upload into the system given the huge amount of stock of the client. For every .csv the system takes a lot more than a couple hours to process and so it is an absolute nightmare to run them all for the initial stock upload. Excel only accepts 65.000 lines and so the whole stock will be divided in a lot of excel files and then saved as .csv. Can you recommend a faster and easier way to upload stock data?
Chris Moose: Hey – I’ve seen people use text files instead of CSV/Excel. That might be faster and gets around the 65k limit.
: Hi Chris,
Question about serial numbers. Standard SAP ECC configuration supports only 18 character serial numbers. Looks like EWM supports 30 character serial numbers. How will two systems communicate if I need to use more than 18 character serials? Can I maintain material master in SAP ECC and serial master in EWM systems?
Chris Moose: If you need to keep serial numbers in ECC then yes, you are limited to 18. If you are asking this in the context of a regulated industry/track and trace there is some interlock between SAP’s traceability products and EWM which takes advantage of the full serial number length.
I’d recommend you take a look at where the serial number data needs to “live” — some people are trying to keep that down in the EWM level and manage their history there.
DougS: Hi Chris,
Can you describe the 2 or 3 most common mistakes/pitfalls that you’ve seen when moving from an SAP WM solution to SAP EWM? And how best to avoid these?
Chris Moose: Hey – lots of people are wondering about the WM to EWM conversion. The areas I’d be worried about include:
1) Assuming that the WM settings map directly to EWM, there are so many more choices in EWM that when you must pass basic structures (storage type level), it really becomes an activity of re-mapping the warehouse.
2) EWM is far far more sensitive to master data than WM; the entire task creation process and all the elaborate splitting logic now available to you hinges on accurate data across the warehouse but around the material specifically.
3) Lastly I’d recommend taking a minimalist approach — with all the capability of EWM it’s fairly easy to design something too complex for the end users. While WM had some limitations, in som
e way its simplicity was an attribute. It is important not to go overboard with what EWM can provide, at least initially, because fairly quickly one can design a process that is too elaborate.
I understand that there will be a session at the SCM 2012 conference on this very topic so you might want to investigate that too. Anything else I can add specifically?
DougS: Thanks … your point #3 seems especially pertinent. I’ve been wondering if adopting all of the new/available functionality, just because it’s present in EWM, is really a good idea. I prefer the “keep it simple” approach that you suggest.
How about end user training? It seems to me that there will be a good amount of new terminology and screens for the users to learn. If they don’t understand it properly on day 1, there could be significant impacts to the business. How important is it to dedicate project resources to this aspect of the implementation?
Chris Moose: I agree – the training is huge!
We have a couple of clients who needed minimal downtime and something we found to be very successful was a complete mock-shift — where we literally shut the facility down for 3 hours, picked product, ran the conveyor belts, etc. It was hard to organize but it was easily the fastest “stabilization” I’ve ever seen.
If you decide to do that I’d recommend going “all-in” — sometimes when people look at how hard that can be they dilute it and you end up with just the productivity loss of “turning the facility off” without the real learning. When I’ve seen it in the past we were “all-in” and it took 1 FTE about 2-3 weeks to fully plan. And then we
took the entire workforce and had them do their “future” jobs with the new software. We did it post-training and it helped us identify the training gaps as well as the system bugs. I’d highly recommend it if “time to stabilize” is critical.
SchwennekerTravisE: Have you done opportunistic cross-docking with push deployment?
Chris Moose: I have not seen that used yet but can you elaborate some on your industry/use case and I might be able to help research it some?
SchwennekerTravisE: Use case is for manufacturing company with service parts.
At time of goods receipt we want to trigger cross-docking to ship split load and ship some to other distribution centers while storing some in the original distribution center.
Chris Moose: I think this is more an APO and SPP (service parts planning) function than straight up EWM. I’d make sure you look at those two before asking EWM to address too much of that functionality. Are you going to do SPP with this too?
SchwennekerTravisE: How would you recommend utilizing handling unit management when you have traditional WM in ECC and EWM connected to the same ECC client?
Chris Moose: If we are transferring HU’s from EWM to WM then just activate outbound packing and/or storage units. If you are asking about cutting over a WM to EWM facility then you need to come up with a HU conversion strategy which will likely include re-labeling the pallets too. Not sure if that answers your question?
spgrant2020: Hello Chris,
Can you shed some light on SAP’s viewpoint on EC
– Will SAP be doing enhancements to the latest version of WM?
– Is SAP/IBM only selling EWM as the industry solution for Warehousing?
– Are you seeing more NEW customers purchasing the EWM solution or is it upgrades for customers who have IM or WM?
– What is the percentage of US based companies vs. others that want EWM as their warehouse management system? (Roughly, is there more work abroad than on the homefront?)
Q. Will SAP be doing enhancements to the latest version of WM?
A. As an opening statement I’d say please ask SAP this — with that disclaimer I don’t think SAP will perform many more enhancements to ECC WM. I expect SAP will continue to support and provide fixes via regular support channels (OSS) — but let’s be clear that I’d recommend you get SAP to give you an answer before you make any significant decisions.
Q. Is SAP/IBM only selling EWM as the industry solution for Warehousing?
A. EWM is the latest warehouse solution from SAP that has broader benefits of integrating with ECC and SCM modules for order management, purchasing, etc. and completes end to end integration.
Q. Are you seeing more NEW customers purchasing the EWM solution or is it upgrades for customers who have IM or WM?
A. New customers are evaluating EWM as their new WMS platform because of the extensive functionality provided and SAP’s future direction for EWM. It is a case-by-case evaluation based on current business process and future growth plans.
Lastly I’d say the interest in EWM started more internationally, but there are a number of sites live in the USA now, and the majority of projects I’m familiar with are in the USA. I don’t know if I would term it to be specific to a region/geo
at this point.
Mark Dixon: Hi Chris,
I am recently new to EWM and have been setting up a sand-pit. So far I have successfully goods receipted stock and placed into warehouse. When it comes to goods issuing, I have had some problems.
Although I have managed to post goods issue a non-batch managed material on a delivery, I am experiencing a Assertion error short-dump with batch managed as the goods issue.
Any ideas on what this could be in terms of missing configuration as it appears to be a problem with finding the stock in the lt_stock_loc table?
Chris Moose: Hey – on this one I’m not real sure what the issue is. Are you getting an actual ABAP/short-dump error? The functionality should work. I’m not sure I can help you on this one. Did OSS have any guidance?
Mark Dixon: Yes, it is a runtime error.
Since we configured the warehouse from scratch I was thinking it was a configuration issue.
OSS will be my next step. Thanks.
AJ Whalen (moderator): A full summary of all the questions will be available here in the SCM Forum and in the SCM Group on Insider Learning Network.
The SCM Group also offers ongoing information and additional resources, including tips from SAPinsider’s conferences and ongoing updates about this spring’s SCM 2012 event in Orlando, which we’re planning now.
Please join us at the SCM 2012 conference to meet Chris and his team in person, and hear them speak about warehouse management, SAP Transportation Management, and more.