Article by Beelogix Consultant Elizabeth Anselmy
SAP’s extended warehouse management (EWM) solution is most often used to manage the receiving and distribution processes and for inventory tracking. At Beelogix, we had the opportunity to implement EWM’s production supply process in a recent project.
Why this ERP-EWM feature is important from the manufacturer’s perspective? During our investigation, we realized that this component enable to link EWM together with SAP ERP to manage the storage and staging of materials in connection with production orders. Integrating production supply into the EWM process provides users with tools they can use to boost their productivity in a complex warehouse, increase visibility of the production staging physical flow and finally ensure a tight and total integration with SAP ERP PP.
At this time, we implemented the solution running on EWM 7.02 that used a Production Supply Area (PSA) located in the same storage location where the picking is executed (the EWM warehouse storage location = PSA storage location). When a plan order is converted into a production order, it is immediately released and an outbound delivery (with the required components quantities) is automatically created in SAP ECC and replicated in EWM as a posting change request. The posting change request is automatically converted into a posting change document using a post processing framework (PPF). This posting change is used to create the picking warehouse task, consolidate the components picked into totes and deliver them to the PSA.
In order to execute the process with EWM, the production supply area created in SAP ECC is replicated in EWM in the same warehouse from which components are to be supplied to production. In addition, a control cycle was created to specify what components are staged to the PSA and with what staging strategy. Finally, a process oriented storage control allows us to execute the 3 basic steps of the process: picking, consolidation and delivery to the PSA.
First, let’s look at the posting change document used to execute the picking, first step in the process oriented storage control. The posting change request contains all the information related to the SAP ECC production order and the required components list.
A posting change document is then created as a copy of the posting change request and it contains also all the information related to the SAP ECC production order.
In order to organize and plan the warehouse activities related to the production supply process, a wave is created with all the posting change documents to be delivered during a period of time. Each wave keeps the information related to the posting change documents and production orders.
The staging warehouse tasks (WT) are created when the wave is released. Every WT contains the picking bin as a source and the staging bin as destination. The staging bin is where the components will be consolidated in a second step.
The warehouse tasks are grouped in a warehouse order (WO) by activity area and production order (a BAdI was implemented to group by production order, the grouping by activity area is standard). Each WO contains a pick handling units used to execute the picking.
After creating of warehouse tasks, the picking process can start using RF guns. This is followed by a consolidation step to create the totes to be delivered to the production supply area.
On newly created production orders, everything looks easy and in sync. However, issues arise when component requirements are changed in the production order. This is a common situation in manufacturing, quantities of components already requested can be increased or decreased, a new component can be added to the production order or the date of the component requirements can be changed by production planning. All of these changes must be updated in EWM in order to plan the warehouse activities accordingly. Even though EWM 7.02 offers standard functionalities for this production order changes replication: it is too limited, has a lot of constraints and finally does not meet the essential requirements of a modern and flexible manufacturing environment.
Fortunately, SAP provides a Business Add In (/SPE/PICK_PARTS) but adapt it to all scenario wasn’t an easy task.
EWM 9.2 brings new features
As mentioned earlier, changes on production orders planning was a critical point in our EWM 7.02 solution and it required custom development. When our customer decided to upgrade to EWM 9.2, we decided to explore the new features and improvements related to the production supply process.
With EWM 9.2, SAP provided enhancements to its production supply process that included a new EWM document called the production material request (PMR). This new document, contains all the warehouse relevant data included in the SAP ECC production order, which allowed SAP to eliminate the previously required outbound delivery created upon order release. The PMR is now the main document to plan, monitor and consume components required by the production order. Most importantly, it allows EWM to get all production planning updates from SAP ECC!
From the PMR’s information, the staging is triggered in the staging cockpit using a staging strategy. The warehouse tasks are created to execute the staging and after their confirmation, the components are transferred and stocked in the PSA. From this point on, if a component requirement is reduced in the production order, the PMR is automatically updated and at the moment of consumption EWM removes the exceeding quantity from the PSA. On the other hand, if the quantity was increased, the updated PMR will trigger the creation of new warehouse tasks to transfer more components to the PSA.
In summary, these are great new features that allow EWM 9.2 to react dynamically to changes coming from SAP ECC Production Planning and represent a key integration point between manufacturing and warehouse management. At Beelogix, we will continue to follow the future evolutions of SAP’s EWM solution. Stay tune for more insight on how we managed the consolidation and delivery to the PSA and how we handled the consumption of components requirement.