Article by, Maxime Malvache, SAP Supply-Chain consultant at Beelogix
During the holiday shopping season (from thanksgiving to Cyber Monday), sales skyrocket for many companies. Did you know that Amazon garnered nearly one-third of all e-commerce sales during this period ?
Logistic processes are greatly challenged as volume increases and consumer expectations for speedy fulfillment remain high. One key success factor to maintain the targeted customer service level during this season is the ability of the company to efficiently ship goods from its distribution centers.
It is complex, and it usually involves external partners, such as carriers, with which an efficient collaboration is essential.
This is where the dock appointment scheduling functionality (DAS), provided by SAP, can help.
The mission of this feature is to facilitate your shipping (& receiving) process in two critical domains:
- The balance of the workload in warehouses.
- The collaboration with carriers.
The DAS is a one place browser-based application where you can plan & operate vehicles appointments in collaboration with your business partners.
In other words, if your company currently organize appointments with carriers in a shared calendar or an excel spreadsheet… Well then yes, this article could definitely be interesting.
A. Prerequisites :
Before diving into specifics, here are the minimum requirements to deploy the DAS solution:
Note that since the release of SAP EWM 9.2, a new user interface using HTML 5 is available for external business partners to access the tool.
B. DAS overview :
As mentioned, the DAS is a browser-based application, it is accessible via the Net Weaver business client and via the Fiori launchpad:
Let’s define three main concepts of the DAS before processing with a demonstration: The docking location, loading point and loading appointment.
To better understand how the DAS works, let’s get under the skin of a transportation planner that need to plan a loading appointment for a vehicle, today and ideally at 2 PM.
The appointment management is composed of 3 activities: Planning, processing, and reporting.
We plan the vehicle arrival. There are 2 views to perform this, a graphical one and a textual one. We use the graphical one here.
We provide information such as:
- The docking location (warehouse).
- The loading point (shipping dock).
- The reference document (sales order number).
- The number of packages.
- The carrier, license plate & driver name.
And most importantly, we can see at a glance the workload at the loading point, and this is exactly how the DAS can help you balance the latter. At 2 PM we have an available capacity of 2 (the red line being the total capacity and the blue blocks the occupied capacity).
Let’s take a step back to define more precisely the concept of capacity and time slots in the DAS.
A time slot is defined at the loading point level and has 2 dimensions: A time one and a capacity one.
- Time: If the time slot is 30 minutes and it takes 1h to load a truck, then the loading appointment uses 2 times slots
- Capacity: It represents the maximum number of vehicles that can be loaded or unloaded in parallel at the loading point.
Time slots are easy to create and to maintain in the DAS:
- The capacity of each time slot for a specific day is defined.
- All time slots from a specific day can be copied to the next day.
- An entire week of time slots can be copied to the next weeks.
In our situation there are 4 warehouse doors at the shipping dock and we also have enough resources to load 4 trucks at a time (except from 12.30 to 1 PM during the lunch break). Hence, the capacity of our times slots is 4 except during the lunch:
If we get back to our loading appointment that we want to plan at 2 PM, as there is still capacity, we confirm it:
- 3 time slots are used as the planned loading time is 1:30.
- From 2 PM to 3 PM there is now only 1 capacity left.
As the day progresses, we can monitor the appointments and verify which ones are completed, in progress or not started:
Note that there is the possibility to set up an automatic refresh to always display an up-to-date information on this screen.
The progression of a loading appointment is defined by activities such as arrival at checkpoint, arrival at dock, departure from dock and departure from checkpoint.
It is now 2.30 PM and the vehicle just arrived, the warehouse clerk declares it:
Once the loading finishes and the vehicle leaves the warehouse, the warehouse clerk will set the departure from dock and from checkpoint statuses.
3. Reporting :
Reports can be generated to track the performance of carriers and employees. To do so, we specify tolerances, for example +/-15 MIN:
Appointments out of the limit will show up in red, whereas the ones within the limits show up in green:
In this case, we can see that the vehicle of the 2 PM appointment was late today as it arrived with more than 15 minutes behind the schedule.
Note that these reports can be extracted to xml formats.
4. Collaboration with carriers :
A huge benefit of the dock appointment scheduling is that you can grant access, via a specific role, to your carriers. By doing so they can directly plan appointments in your system. They have a limited authorization that allow them to create appointments, update them or cancel them if it is done out of the restricted planning period.
The restricted planning period is defined in hours or days prior the appointment and in which the carriers can only make minor changes to this appointment (eg: driver name, license plate). For any major change they must contact the warehouse directly.
This collaboration benefits both parties. It reduces the time spent on the phone or by e-mail to schedule appointments and it minimizes the waiting time of vehicles in the yard (for example by preventing situations where there is no warehouse door available).
C. Deployment options :
The DAS can be implemented as a standalone solution or integrated with a local SAP EWM system.
With the integrated option, RFC connections are used for communication. The planning of the shipping or receiving processes can either be initiated in the DAS or in EWM. The different activities of both scenarios are as follows:
Want to learn more about how the dock appointment scheduling and SAP EWM can improve your efficiency? Contact us at email@example.com
1.Warehouse management with SAP EWM, Rheinwerk Publishing, 2016, SAP Press
2.Warehouse management with SAP EWM, Rheinwerk Publishing, 2016, SAP Press