Optimized and Automated Mobile RF Transactions for SAP IM and WM vs. Standard “As-Is” SAP Warehouse Management RF Transactions

As identified by SAP for Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), the work process in the warehouse is characterized by speed, reliability, and precision in processing individual goods movements.  To optimize manufacturing efficiently, inventory management and warehouse operations, companies will utilize a simple, easy-to-use, mobile and automated version of each individual process’s SAP transaction code (t-code) and movement type.  A radio frequency (RF) scanning, data collection, and barcode label printing solution provides fast, real-time data validation and communication through the use of mobile RF terminals… such as Zebra (formerly Motorola and Symbol) mobile barcode scanning terminals, tablets, vehicle-mounted computers, and RF wearables.

Just like barcode scanning equipment, it’s important to recognize that not all mobile or RF SAP software transactions are equal.  In fact, there is a significant delta between standard, or “out-of-the-box” SAP Warehouse Management RF transactions, as compared to SAP WM RF transactions that have been truly optimized, automated, and combined (or daisy-chained) for improved inventory control and warehousing tasks.  This post will touch on a few of the distinct highlights to consider when weighing use of SAP software’s available “standard” or “as-is” WM transactions compared to available optimized SAP IM, WM, and /or EWM RF transactions.

Related Topics Note: SAP connectivity and certified RF device operating system considerations for SAP ECC 6.0 and S/4HANA are available as separate topics via BCCD blog posts and webinars.  These topics include review and support for SAP Console (telnet), SAP ITSmobile (browser), and Fiori (UI5 app), as well as Windows Mobile, Windows CE, Windows 10, and Android operating systems for mobile RF scanners.

Explanation of Terminology

  • Mobilized – IM, WM, or EWM software transactions designed for use with a variety of mobile RF equipment.
    • Examples include portable handheld devices [16 lines by 20 characters], forklifts or tablets [8 lines by 40 characters], or user-specific display sizes and adaptive sizing.
  • Optimized – IM, WM, or EWM software transactions configured and customized applying SAP software and connectivity, Inventory Control, and Mobile RF Equipment Best Practices.
    • An example includes utilization of an SAP TVARVC (SAP standard table) for embedded software variants that will define how 2 separate Plants may use the same available Goods Receipt-Putaway transaction differently (i.e. 1-step vs 2-step process).
  • Automated – IM, WM, or EWM software transactions designed to perform intuitively with the expectation of a user’s interaction with both the SAP software and mobile RF device running the app.
    • Examples include automatically advancing an on-screen cursor to the next data entry field with a successful barcode scan, daisy-chaining two or more transactions together for one complete inventory task, integrating 2D barcode labels for mobile printing, etc.

Standard SAP Mobile Data Entry (MDE) supports a set number of warehouse processes, made available with SAP WM software for generalized use and limited capabilities.  RF support of WM processes include, but are not limited to transactions/functionality such as:

Goods Receipts and Goods IssuesInterleavingMaterial Inquiry
Pick and Pack by DeliveryHandling Unit – Pack and UnpackCount Inventory by System Guided
Putaway by TO and/or System GuidedLoading and UnloadingCount Inventory by User Selection

Comparison of Optimized SAP RF Transactions vs. Standard “As-Is” SAP WM RF Transactions

  • Real-time validation upon data entry and when collected at each entry point.
    • Compare to standard functionality- requires a user to advance multiple screens prior to validation, and potentially requiring the user to go back or restart a transaction to correct an issue with previous data entered.
  • Ability to customize any RF screen data element to match the SAP field name to specific business process terminology.  More intuitive, easier training, and follows end-user naming conventions.
    • Compare to standard functionality- use of predefined SAP terminology (words) with limited ability to change predefined titles and objects.
  • Customization is simplified to standard SAP ABAP code, with revision controls and quality validation, simplified Change Management, and software certified by SAP®.
    • Customization of standard SAP RF functionality requires more complex coding, use of wide variations of custom Z transactions, and potentially outside of a controlled name space.  In addition to being more complex coding, there may not be controls in place for code management, debugging, or uniformity in structure- resulting in varying performance from one transaction to the next and between different mobile RF devices.
  • Automatic cursor positioning to the required data entry field, and upon a 1D or 2D barcode scan, transaction is automated to (1) validate the data, and (2) advance the transaction without additional manual user interaction or steps.
    • Compare to standard functionality- a standard SAP WM RF transaction will require a user to position the screen, select one of multiple fields, enter data, and then reposition and advance to the next required field manually.  Additionally, verification of data may not happen immediately.
  • Optimized SAP IM, WM, or EWM transactions will include the ability to daisy-chain, or link, two or more SAP t-codes or SAP movements types together, creating one seamless RF transaction for the user.  This also includes the ability to incorporate barcode label printing using a Zebra mobile printer or and automatic label printer applicator.  See above sample excerpts of an optimized SAP RF transaction illustration on a Zebra handheld scanner.
    • Standard SAP WM RF functionality does not include this capability out of the box.
  • Similar to customization, optimized SAP RF transactions often include embedded logic capabilities to accommodate automation of back-end tasks, if/then logic, or a combination of functions.  A common example being integrated use of a standard SAP TVARVC table.
    • Standard SAP WM RF functionality does not include this capability out of the box.
  • Automation allows for performing a necessary task, such as an Inventory Inquiry while in the middle of a Putaway or Pick transaction, to prevent a user from backing out or exiting the Putaway/Pick transaction and losing collected data.
    • Standard SAP WM RF functionality does not include this capability out of the box.
  • Dynamic data input fields are a feature of optimized transactions.  Built in logic can decipher between a scanned barcode for a Bin location or a product Material number to perform Inventory Inquires, Inventory Counts, and more.
    • Standard SAP WM RF functionality does not include this capability out of the box.
  • For SAP ECC and S/4HANA users that have not implemented the Warehouse Management module, and utilize Inventory Management (IM), BCCD has an extensive library of preconfigured IM RF transactions, as well as custom RF transactions (Inventory Take-On, HU or SU Label Print and Label Reprints, etc.) to perform inventory tasks for general warehouse management.
    • Standard SAP IM RF functionality not available out of the box.

Functionality described is for SAP ECC 6.0® and SAP S/4HANA® end users and leveraging SAP Console, SAP ITSmobile, or SAP Fiori / UI5 platform connectivity, combined with 802.11 wireless (WLAN), as well as certified mobile devices such as Zebra RF scanners, vehicle computers, and enterprise tablets.  Images shown may not depict the complete RF transaction, flow, or all user interactions, nor the most applicable Zebra RF barcode scanner.  Software and equipment requirements vary from end-user to end-user, and are based on blueprinting, application requirements, and best-practice recommendations.  Best practice standards are vital to create consistent and easy-to-use screens (UI or user interface) for mobile users, as well as to meet corporate requirements for standardization.  BCC Distribution designs each IM, WM, and/or EWM mobile SAP software transaction specifically for mobile handheld RF barcode scanners, rugged tablets, wearable devices, vehicle-mounted terminals, and more.   These apps are designed using a minimal amount of words, automating data entry fields, and are optimized specifically to make the mobile SAP RF scanning and barcode printing system extremely easy to use for the operator.  BCCD’s TranASAP solution is developed for real-time, directly-integrated architecture, using the above SAP-certified software development platforms and connectivity tools.

Contact BCC Distribution to illustrate how RF barcode scanning, data collection, and barcode printing automation can optimize SAP ECC 6.0® and SAP S/4HANA® Inventory Management, Warehouse Management, and Extended Warehouse Management specific to your inventory control and tracking process for manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution operations.