by Jim Lodwick
Supercharging SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) with Mobile Technology
Across the supply chain and indeed in everyday life, the reliance on mobile devices is clear. From scanning, voice and RFID-based activities in the warehouse, to customer sign-off of a delivery during the ‘final mile’, there is no doubt that this hand-held technology has transformed the way we operate.
Without correctly integrated mobile hardware, SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) can never fulfil its full potential. It's like having an IOT sensor monitoring fork lift truck performance but walking to the truck to physically check the latest data, or having a high performance sports car in a city without real-time mobile traffic feeds, oozing capability but no opportunity to fulfil its true potential.
Deploying mobile technology within the warehouse process has numerous proven cost, quality and efficiency benefits. These include a significant reduction in the administration of warehouse activities, improving workforce productivity, as well as maximising data capture accuracy through real-time verification, for example scanning of products, totes/cases, pallets and locations and avoiding the need for rekeying. Furthermore, mobile technology allows us to redesign processes entirely for greater efficiency, for example with mobile printing for on-demand labels during pick and pack activities.
Activities carried out with directly integrated mobile technology also provides the benefit of real-time information, removing the lag of paper-based activities. This has an incrementally positive impact with instantly updated inventory and location information, in-turn enabling higher stock availability and better utilisation of warehouse storage and handling assets. SAP EWM is also able to use this real-time information to drive advanced efficiencies with resource and labour management, utilising this data and providing accurate execution times for billing of services.
SAP EWM provides native support for mobile technology which, when following our best practices for integration, can quickly unlock these significant benefits. But choosing the right mobile hardware for the type of operation and material handling is key to achieving these benefits.
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Where an operation has more complex and labour-intensive material handling, an array of wearable devices, or devices utilising voice and RFID technology, can be brought into play, allowing operatives to focus on the task at hand. Again, SAP EWM is primed and waiting with native support for these technologies, keeping integration clean and all of your business logic within your WMS (yep, no middleware needed).
With so much new technology and innovation entering the market, the choice of data capture devices for warehouse management systems is growing exponentially. This is allowing for the deployment of a more tailored solution driving best value from your SAP EWM solution and, consequently, your operatives and assets.
However, not all devices are created equally, so considering a turnkey EWM and mobile solution provider is a big advantage, taking a holistic view of your SAP EWM design, operational handling and identification requirements, as well as advising on the technology available that is proven to work with SAP EWM and with best practices for devices provisioning will save you time and cost during deployment.
Some of the key points for consideration:
- 35-40% of consumer devices are replaced within two years of purchase.
- Rugged devices can be upwards of 40% more cost effective than consumer devices.
- Field staff are 18% more productive with rugged devices which are fit for purpose
- 14% - the average annual failure rate of a consumer device.
- 75 minutes – the average amount of time lost each time a consumer device fails.
- 65 minutes – the amount of IT support time required for each consumer device failure.
- 45% - consumer device replacement rate due to hardware failure.
- 40% - the proportion of times that hardware failure is not covered by warranty on consumer devices.
Defining a mobile technology strategy that is aligned to your software strategy is a great way to avoid procuring or replacing incompatible devices.
The key role that these devices play makes it essential to be confident that they are up to the task that is – quite literally – in hand.
Hardware issues or failure may sound extreme and uncommon, but it is more of a reality than one might expect. If it occurs, process up-time is reduced and productivity can be, on average, almost halved. Consumer devices can seem appealing because of the initial cost difference and reliance on less IT resources, but they are not designed for the industrial use required by the supply chain and typically are a false economy. Equally some low cost mobile technology may look appealing but can come with hidden costs, such as fixed operating systems and poor scanning or processor performance, all of which can undermine the potential of your SAP EWM solution to deliver productivity and operational efficiency and reduce resultant return on investment.
- Unlock the full benefit of SAP EWM with mobile technology, such as mobile scanning and RFID, voice, and labelling.
- Take a holistic design across your SAP EWM system, mobile technology, processes and material identification and handling. Find a turnkey partner for best results.
- Take advantage of the direct mobile technology integration from SAP EWM and don’t let vendors send you middleware - you do not need it!
Rocket Consulting have delivered in excess of 40 SAP Mobile Projects. We also have extensive mobile hardware, networking and security experience.
Driven by customer requirements for improved usability, Rocket introduced Rocket Mobile. Fully compatible with the EWM RF Framework and seamlessly integrated with the HTML generation infrastructure, Rocket Mobile creates state-of-the-art, brand aligned, beautiful and responsive mobile and web user interfaces.
Rocket Mobile is fully integrated within SAP and keeps your IT landscape simple, with no additional software components required.
If you would like further information, to see the improved UX and benefits of the technical simplicity to be gained for yourself please get in touch to learn more.
Download our guide to Mobile Devices and learn more about specifications for a selection of mainstream handheld, wearable and fork lift truck mount type devices.
Learn more about the Rocket Mobile Technical Capability.