Improve Material Flows with Email Alerts from SAP WM Mobile Transactions

  • by Ram Angara, IT Director
  • October 15, 2008
Learn to set up custom email alerts triggered from SAP Warehouse Management (WM) mobile transactions based on user-defined business rules.
Key Concept
The strength of SAP Warehouse Management (WM) comes from its tight integration with other SAP modules, such as Sales and Distribution (SD), Materials Management (MM), and Production Planning (PP). This integration delivers high data consistency and facilitates the best practice of “One version of the truth” both within and outside the organization. However, this tight integration mandates disciplined execution of business transactions in a logical sequence by the business users. Any exceptions, if not dealt with in a timely manner, can result in potential losses.

Imagine a simple warehouse picking process that uses a manual picking strategy in a storage unit (SU) managed warehouse. The warehouse worker creates a transfer order while picking for an outbound delivery by scanning an SU in a bin and loading the item onto a conveyor to a shipping door. At the shipping door, the SU is scanned again before it is loaded on to a truck to confirm the pick transfer order. Once all the items are picked and confirmed, the delivery is completed by posting a goods issue. Ideally, this warehouse should have smooth, fast movements of its SUs, but in the real world, things do not always run that well.

Situations that clog operations may occur during picking and bin-to-bin transfers. During the picking process, a warehouse worker might find an SU that is not supposed to be in the warehouse. This occurs when an SU that is listed as already shipped to a customer or transferred to another warehouse is still in the bin. This might sound unlikely, but this situation occurs quite often in fast-paced warehouse operations. The system status shows either the SU is shipped or in an interim storage type, but the physical location is only known during the picking or physical inventory process. This prolongs the error because the SU might not even be noticed until the bin is visited by a worker again. During a bin-to-bin transfer, the warehouse workers might find the bins blocked, which slows them down. In both of these situations, a supervisor needs to be alerted of the problem, slowing down not just the workers, but the whole warehouse operations as well. In fast-paced warehouse operations, it is business critical to address these exceptions as soon as they occur to maintain an uninterrupted flow of goods.

These scenarios were just some of the problems occurring in my warehouse. Together with the warehouse manager, we came up with a simple approach to reduce the complexity of SAP Warehouse Management (WM) processes; we implemented mobile transactions in the warehouse. These mobile transactions were user friendly and quick to execute, which improved the warehouse operator’s productivity. This way, when problems occurred, such as the item found in the bin during picking, the worker could flag the item during the picking process without slowing down. Or in the case of the blocked bins, the supervisor could quickly react and reduce unnecessary travel by the lift operators. This helped diminish the effort in the next physical inventory cycle as the problems were already accounted for by the supervisor.

Ram Angara

Ram Angara is an IT director responsible for enterprise level business systems at a large CPG company. He has more than 20 years of experience in the areas of business and information systems, including 12 years of hands-on SAP functional and technical experience. He has successfully managed and implemented large SAP projects in MM, WM, FI/CO, PP, and BI, including multiple SAP upgrades. Prior to this role, he worked as a consulting manager at BearingPoint in its SAP practice. He has a master’s degree in industrial management, a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and SAP certification.

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