Friday, 24 October 2008

Supply Chain Execution, WM, LES & eWM



WM, LES and eWM

Purpose, usage and benefits.

The SAP platform offers a quite a selection with respect to Logistics Execution (warehousing, delivery and transportation)

It is critical to understand each one.

Warehouse Management WM:
The warehouse management module in SAP ERP is as we all know it since the days of R3 3.0. The warehouse management module is suitable for simple and low volume warehousing environment that is fully integrated with the rest of the SAP modules such as IM, PP, QM as well as SD. The module has followed an evolution whereby Handling Unit Management, Radio Frequency and in later releases Task and Resource Management (limited success) was included in its offering. The SAP ERP WM modules usage is also influenced by the SAP architecture. Normally a SAP architecture for a local single company environment.

Logistics Execution System: LES (decentralized platform)

The Logistics Execution System which includes WM, shipping, transportation is also available in a centralized SAP architecture as well as decentralized architecture connected via standard ALE (IDOC’s).
The decentralized architecture is suitable for multi-national organization that have central ERP environment and require high volume distribution in many countries. The benefit of the decentralized architecture is to have separate server in a country, example Japan where main ERP server is in Germany to manage 24 hours a day 7 days a week warehousing and distribution functions without disruptions and high system availability. A further benefit relates to radio frequency response time. A distributed LES server allows quick (sub second) response time.
One of the shortcomings to the decentralized architecture relates to close integration to other modules (example QM) and process autonomy is very limited. Inbound and Outbound in LES are only possible if they were replicated from main ERP system. Quality management only worked if HU assigned in Inbound delivery in ERP system limiting the system independence.

Extended Warehouse Management: eWM

SAP has progressed warehousing and distribution development with the development of Extended Warehouse Management with the introduction of SCM 5.0 (APO platform). This solution was developed within the Service Parts solution and enhanced.
The eWM operates in a separate platform (SCM server) and is integrated with ERP (from SCM51) via the Core Interface (CIF, same technology as APO) using qRFC Inbound and Outbound.
The key design feature with respect to eWM are:
Suitable for multi system, multi customer and multi partner technical landscape
True operating autonomy, allows processing inbounds in EWM without the presence of Inbound Delivery Notifications from ERP system
Quality Inspection engine to manage QM
Integrated with RFID
The weakness of Task and Resource Management has being replaced by a totally integrated design with respect to processing, movement and resource management assignment. The eWM support both layout or process orientated movements of pallets within the warehouse
Native integration with Material Flow doing away with costly middleware.

What now ?

Where to, what solution should be chosen ?

First consideration is the business requirement, complexity, volume and SAP environment.

If single client low complexity and low volume then choosing standard WM solution is more than adequate.

Where the requirements are for high volume, complex environment and distributed warehousing based on single SAP ERP system, then either LES or eWM should be chosen.
The eWM solution is the obvious choice if the ERP environment is based on SAP Enhancement Package 3 for SAP ERP 6.0. The eWM offering provides more advanced functionalities than LES and will be the main focus for technology investment by SAP.


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