Improve Your Warehouse Management with TRM

  • by Chris Moose, Partner, IBM Global Business Services
  • September 1, 2005
SAP's Task and Resource Management (TRM) module allows you to improve warehouse operations management by breaking warehouse management activities into discrete tasks and then optimizing task execution. Here are some great tips on how to implement it in R/3.
Key Concept
Warehouse task assignment (meaning assigning tasks that are parts of a picking process) is complicated because little about it is static. Everyday occurrences as simple as someone going on break, being called away to clean up a spill, or dealing with a task that takes longer than expected can throw the process off completely. Chaining activities together (task interleaving, such as coordinating picks and putaways to minimize unproductive time) makes it even more complicated. TRM is an effective tool for task assignment and interleaving and is regarded as a valuable addition to R/3 warehouse management functionality.
Some warehouses assign a single picker to an order and expect that person to complete that order — from the initial pick to the final staging on the dock. However, this method is likely to generate a great deal of foot traffic, as many pickers move throughout the entire warehouse. It could also result in the use of equipment for which the picker may not be qualified.

A better solution for many facilities is to assign workers to zones or equipment types and allow them to remain primarily inside that zone or with that equipment doing discrete activities for which they are qualified (e.g., forklift movements, hand picks). If a picker is to do a certain type of activity primarily, the system must understand the picker's capabilities and location.

Historically, SAP Warehouse Management (WM) was not the optimal solution for this engine-type planning where tasks might require many resources and prioritization. Determining what pick to do and what resources were required to complete the pick was the operator's responsibility. SAP WM just wanted to know when the pick was complete.

Chris Moose

Chris Moose is a partner in IBM's Global Business Services organization where he is the sponsor of SAP warehouse management and transportation management offerings. With worldwide responsibility for these offerings, he has helped expand IBM's delivery capabilities globally and has personally delivered projects on four different continents. His specific interests include the use of technology to address the historical fixed cost nature of supply chains enabling flexibility and then quantifying that business value with a benefits realization focus. In addition to his practice management and delivery focus, Chris is a frequent speaker at industry events as well as an author for industry magazines.

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