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Thursday, 27 June 2019 05:35

How SAP has evolved its flagship EWM product to be one of the leader in magic quadrant of WMS market

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Circa 1993, SAP R/2 had firstintroduced the warehouse logistics functions in its ERP and since then there isno look-back for SAP in the warehouse management solution space. Whileestablishing today itself as

one of the top contender in WMS market, SAP'sjourney is looking ever exciting and promising towards achieving the ultimateobjective to become number one product in this space.

Even though a little late entrantin WMS product market arena, SAP has continuously kept ramping up itswarehousing solutions. Be it SAP WMS which was evolved from ERP suite productsof the nascent SAP R/3 versions 2.0 to 4.7 and now today offering the mostadvanced next gen warehousing solution SAP EWM 9.5.

In 1995 with the SAP R/3 release3.0, its primal warehouse solution was mainly inward-looking when it had introducedthe material supply to production via Production Supply Area (PSA) concept and therebyproviding integration of raw material storage with production planning (PP).With such a lean version of production material supply concept in the beginningyears, today SAP EWM can handle the most complex production shop floorintegration with manual as well as automated storages.

First time when WM truly came outof the egg shell was with introduction of SAP Release 4.5, when separate moduleof Logistics Execution was born having three distinct components of warehousemanagement (WM), shipping (SHP) and transportation (TRA). Slowly SAP introducedthe radio frequency functions in 2000 during release 4.6, integration ofhandheld scanner was now possible via SAP console.

In 4.7 release, more ammunitionwas added with addition of Task & Resource Management (TRM) in EE1 andERP-EWM with cross-docking, yard management and value added services in release4.7, EE2. This happened in year 2004. And by then, SAP has realized thepotential of WMS market and gained full confidence to provide the best-in-classWMS product to the world. It was also the time to have a birth of new WMS solutionaltogether and break-away from the limited walls of traditional ERP system, EWM5.0 was born on SAP SCM server at around 2006. The word "Extended" in EWM stoodfor the boundaries beyond four walls of physical warehouse premises. With thisthe intention of SAP was very clear that it wants to offer the independentbest-in-class warehouse management product which will house the completeuniverse of warehousing business operations.

New innovative functionalitieswere added like internal routing, slotting & rearrangement and warehousemonitoring. EWM 5.1 came with the fully integrated new Material Flow System(MFS) and with this addition, SAP EWM stood class apart in comparison to its oldLE-WMS system.

With the further expansion ofcross-docking processes like merchandise and opportunistic ones as part of EWM7.0, SAP brought-in more enhanced functions like production supply area in EWMintegrated with ERP production planning, further improvements in MFS. In 7.01,new features now also covered the integration aspects related to controllingthe conveyor equipment. SAP gave a boost to RDS (Rapid Deployment Solutions)for EWM implementation by bringing in migration tools which facilitated fastermaster data and process migration from legacy SAP WM to new EWM 7.02.

The huge leapfrog over other WMSplayers came after the introduction of EWM 9.0 in 2013 when SAP had built a commonsystem platform of Supply Chain Execution (SCE) housing Extended WarehouseManagement (EWM), Transportation Management (TM) and Event Management (EM),thereby offering holistic supply chain functions by covering the upstream anddownstream processes in warehousing and transportation. In EWM 9.0, it hasbrought newer features like dock appointment scheduling and stock-specificunits of measure that makes it possible to handle the product which is storedin different packaging units like in large distribution centers.

Today SAP EWM offers various flexibledeployment options like the most recent being decentralized EWM onS/4HANA since SAP S/4HANA 1809 FPS02 in addition to the earlier options availablesince release 9.0, wherein EWM can be deployed as Add-On to SAP NetWeaverand as an Add-On to SAP SCM 7.0 EHP2 and higher. EWM is provided as being partof SAP S/4HANA since version 1610 as embedded EWM which can integrate to localERP storage locations in the same system & client.

From EWM 9.0 the pace ofinnovation increased further, EWM 9.1 introduced the shipping cockpit, directTM-EWM Integration and many retail industry specific enhancements in it. Thewhole new features of Advanced Production Integration came into being from version9.2 wherein SAP further optimized the production integration and streamlinedrelated warehouse processes.

While EWM 9.3 has brought in morefunctionalities in Supply Chain Execution Platform, EWM 9.4 ushered the truerevolution in SAP's flagship WMS product when the direct integration with PLClayer of warehouse automated equipment like ASRS, AGVs and Automated conveyorsetc. was possible using Material Flow System (MFS) without the involvement ofmiddle layer.

The most recent version of EWM9.5 continues bringing the strings of innovations like newer features in thelabor management, new capabilities in the retail & e-commerce and also the packagebuilding as part of Cartonization planning process.

In all these newer versions ofEWM since EWM 7.0, SAP kept on adding multitudes of warehousing innovationslike for example Pick by Voice configurability in 9.4, various transactional Fioriapps with EWM as back-end for warehouse clerks and operators, directintegration with automated material handling equipment etc.

Thus SAP's penchant tocontinuously evolve EWM with promising innovation roadmap is going to catapultitself as a top leader in WMS space and I believe those years are not far awayfrom now.

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