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SAP's adaptable warehouse management software boosts supply chain ops

SAP's warehouse management software, EWM, integrates with different SAP SCM applications and other ERP systems and provides automation and support for multiple warehouse locations.

SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) is on-premises warehouse management software designed to manage high-volume warehouse operations. The system provides automation and support for warehouse and distribution logistics as well as for inventory tracking and management.

SAP EWM can be tailored to the needs of manufacturing and retail warehouses, warehouses used by logistics providers such as third-party logistics (3PL) vendors and also large-scale distribution centers. Within the warehouse itself, SAP's EWM system manages goods movements from the time they are received through the time they are shipped. Between these two operations, the system manages the flow of goods through all warehouse processes, interfacing with mobile technology such as radio frequency readers, smartphones and scanners and also with material handling equipment and warehouse automation. The system has built-in intelligence and runs best practices designed to optimize inventory tracking, cross-docking, distribution operations and multichannel fulfillment in real-time. It also tightly integrates with other SAP supply chain management and ERP systems such as SAP Supply Chain Management (SCM) and SAP ERP. Businesses can integrate the warehouse management software with other third-party systems and web services through remote function calls that exchange information between systems.

SAP EWM provides support for functions adjacent to the warehouse. One of these functions is yard management -- the tracking of vehicles that come into the warehouse yard to unload goods to the warehouse. SAP EWM also features optimization and best practices for stock putaways and removals, cross-docking, quality management of goods and value-added services such as the light assembly of goods. Additionally, the system manages warehouse storage bins and processes physical inventory while it monitors warehouse resource and labor utilization.

Who benefits most from using SAP's warehouse management software?

SAP EWM is used in a variety of industry verticals. Beyond companies already using SAP SCM applications, its "sweet spot" is in enterprises that have an established ERP or supply chain system in place and that want to tightly integrate the warehouse with these systems. These companies also have the staff and in-house expertise to manage an on-premises system. Depending on company requirements, Customers can centralize SAP EWM in the data center or deploy it in a distributed manner in multiple warehouses.

In the most recent release of SAP EWM, SAP expanded integration between the warehouse, logistics processes and transportation hubs to enable faster logistics and order fulfillment and improved asset utilization for greater efficiency and reduced cost. The introduction of transit warehouse functionality allows logistics companies to manage complex movements of goods from origin to consolidation points to destination. It supports unloading, consolidating and loading packages rather than products. Further enhancements include billing warehouse services for 3PL providers and shippers who contract warehouse services.

SAP EWM is now integrated with SAP HANA, an in-memory analytics processing platform that provides real-time analytics and is well positioned to handle internet-of-things communications from machine automation. The warehouse management software uses object-based programming and can be custom-coded by sites to fit their operations.

Support plans for SAP's warehouse management software

Sites choosing to implement SAP EWM can utilize SAP implementation consulting and services. They also receive a baseline training course to help prepare them for the system. On a pay-for basis, SAP offers additional EWM coursework that covers how to customize the warehouse management software. They also offer certification in SAP EWM.

SAP offers four different levels of technical support for its SAP EWM: Enterprise support, Preferred Care support, Active Embedded support and Max Attention support. Enterprise Support provides 24/7 support services and a tech support advisory team. Preferred Care adds to this a dedicated account representative and opportunities for more rapid response times to incidents that the client has an option to subscribe to. Active Embedded enables clients to interact with SAP experts on site and to also plan for business continuity operations, in addition to supporting those options available in the lower-level SAP Preferred Care support. Max Attention provides all of the options of Active Embedded and adds to this an on-staff expert.

Since SAP EWM is an on-premises system only, pricing is done through a license agreement that is tailored to the needs of each individual client.

SAP does not offer a free trial of its EWM, but demos are available upon request.

Next Steps

The cloud is making warehouse management less complex.

Here are some key factors to consider when adjusting to an omnichannel way of warehouse management.

Here's how WMS software can help streamline your operations.

This was last published in October 2016

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