Keep It Simple with Warehouse Management Data Elements

  • by Bruce Rishel, CSCP, PMP, Partner, Venetia Systems (July 2010)
  • July 15, 2007
Certain data elements including the warehouse, storage type, storage section, and bins are required to use Warehouse Management. Other data elements such as picking areas, material staging areas, and doors can bring additional flexibility to the warehouse design. See how you can use these data elements to keep the warehouse simple and efficient while meeting your business requirements.
Key Concept
Taking material segregation down to the Warehouse Management level adds complexity to the supply chain, but it can allow materials to flow more efficiently through the warehouse. By subdividing the warehouse, you can improve your processes for receiving, putaway, material storage, and picking.
Plants, storage locations, shipping points, warehouses, storage types, storage sections, picking areas, doors, material staging areas, and bins — an SAP system offers many different ways to slice and dice material. The key is to know how to take advantage of these different material segregation options to make the supply chain more effective.

To manage your warehouse, you can use the more basic Inventory Management (IM) or IM with Warehouse Management (WM), which is a more complicated setup. Some of the reasons a business would implement WM include the following:

  • Bin-level material segregation is required
  • Mobile data entry (RF) is required
  • You must separate hazardous materials storage (dangerous goods) by material storage classification — for example, water pollution class or fire containment section

When you implement WM, you have a series of decisions to make about the data elements that comprise WM. They include the basic data elements that all warehouses have, such as the warehouse, storage type, storage section, and bin. The other data elements — picking area, material staging area, and door — are optional. Each data element contains a variety of configuration options.

Using SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) 5.0, I’ll walk you through each of the data elements involved in WM and explain the appropriate uses of each. Although I refer to ECC 5.0, this information also applies to R/3 4.6A through 4.6C, R/3 Enterprise, and ECC 6.0. The flow chart, “SAP Material Segregation Criteria,” available on the SCM Expert Web site in the Downloads section, outlines the decision process for the data elements.

Bruce Rishel

Bruce Rishel is a partner with Venetia Systems. He has earned the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) certification as well as the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP) designation. Since 1998, Bruce has served his clients in a number of roles including both functional and technical leads and as a project manager. Bruce helps companies develop and improve logistics and supply chain processes and specializes in implementing the LE module, including WM and TM. Bruce has considerable experience integrating external logistics systems with SAP and is an expert in the SAP XSI solution facilitating SAP communication with third-party transportation providers. In addition to his client experience, Bruce is a frequent contributor to SCM Expert and speaker at SAP’s SAPPHIRE conference. He continues to work hands on, helping his clients realize their potential.

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