Putaway Control in SAP EWM Warehouse Management System
Warehousing process with the warehouse structure available in the SAP Extended Warehouse Management product
1. Master data
To understand the warehousing process, we would like to present the warehouse structure that is available in EWM. The elements of this are:
- Storage type: The highest level within a warehouse that is used to group storage bin with similar properties.
- Storage section: usually used to distinguish between fast-moving and slow-moving products.
- Storage bin: the most accurate location of the product.
- Storage bin type: a feature of the storage bin, a grouping of storage bins with the same characteristics.
- Activity area: grouping of storage bins, even across several storage types.
As shown in the figure, the total stock of an MM storage space in the EWM can be broken down in more detail, hierarchically. At the first level, the processes can be divided into several storage types based on the processes and the physical design of the warehouse, and within the storage type, several storage sections can be defined, which can be used to speed up service by placing fast-moving products more optimally. The smallest storage unit is the storage bin to which a storage bin type can be assigned for controlling, for example, the putaway of heavy pallets or to distinguish between low and high storage bins.
EWM also allows for a new type of grouping of storage bins, which we call an activity area. The activity area is used to group the workload of warehouse workers; it provides the opportunity to group their tasks properly. As shown in the figure, a storage bin can belong to several activity areas, and an activity area can cover several storage types, so it can be flexibly defined according to the processes of each warehouse.
2. Putaway strategy
The starting point of the EWM putaway strategy is the warehouse product master, where you can specify which areas of the warehouse should the system consider when looking for the optimal storage bin. A pallet is called a handling unit, which also plays an important role during putaway. The characteristics of a handling unit, including weight, volume, and the packaging material used, all influence the target storage bin chosen by the system.
After selecting the appropriate destination storage bin, the system creates a warehouse task, which is the most important element of warehouse management that can be implemented in EWM. Warehouse workers execute warehouse tasks during their daily work, and these documents capture lots of data including where to move a handling unit, who created and confirmed the task, their date, the nature of the task.
The following describes the storage bin search strategy that the system uses when creating a putaway warehouse task. The search strategy is built up hierarchically along the elements of the warehouse structure and includes the following:
- Storage type search sequence
- Storage section search sequence
- Storage bin determination based on storage bin type
The storage type search order is basically derived from the putaway control indicator specified on the warehouse product, and it contains the appropriate storage types for the product in the correct order. The storage section search sequence works similarly, you can also specify its control on the warehouse product, based on which the system finds the optimal storage section for the product.
In the example below, a product arrives to the warehouse that is to be stored in the rack system and is a slow-moving product according to its master data attributes. The first figure shows that if there is free storage space in the optimal area, it will be directed there.
The figure below illustrates that if the RACK storage type is full, the system directs the pallet to the bulk storage based on the storage type search sequence specified in customizing.
When selecting a specific storage bin, the system takes into account both the storage bin type control specified on the warehouse product and the handling unit type (derived from the packaging material), and the final storage location is determined based on these considerations. It is also possible to examine the capacity in terms of weight and volume during the determination of the appropriate storage vin. If we want to optimize the work distribution of warehouse workers, then EWM provides an opportunity to group the resulting warehouse tasks appropriately, in the so-called queue. These are used to assign the tasks created in each area to different personnel and material handling equipment, together called resource in EWM. Grouping of warehouse tasks into queues is based on the activity areas explained above.
After selecting the optimal storage bin, EWM is able to split up the putaway process into several steps, details of which are described in the next article.
Putaway Control in SAP EWM Warehouse Management System
This article was written by: Péter Pásztor
SAP Warehouse and Transport Logistics Competence Centre
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