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SAP WM/EWM- Process, Functionality, Scope, Benefits, Advantages, Disadvantage-Complete Reference-Part 17 :- Material Flow systems [MFS]

Dear Experts/ Consultants,

This blog speaks about SAP EWM- MFS system. First I am giving my Hearty thanks for SAP to share very beatiful details. the Details i have taken from  Help.sap.com and many SAP websites.

I hope this blog will be very useful to the new consultants and newbies in SAP EWM-MFS..

 

SAP Material Flow System (SAP MFS) is an integrated functional component within SAP EWM (SAP Extended Warehouse Management). SAP MFS (SAP Material Flow System) is typically used for material flow control in automated warehouse systems (AS/RS for small parts, High Bay warehouse Systems), and deployed in demanding, highly-automated logistics centres. SAP MFS (SAP Material Flow System) provides comprehensive, performance-optimized control for highly-dynamic, fully-automated shuttle AS/RS systems, sorters and sequencers. The deployment of SAP MFS (SAP Material Flow System) results in a two-tier system architecture (SAP-PLC) with a maximum level of SAP integration and simple interfaces, making external middleware and subsystems, such as warehouse/material flow control system (WCS/MFC) surplus to requirements. This means lower operating costs, greater flexibility and transparency, and maximum protection for your investment.

Functional/Technical set-up recommonded by SAP – We can see this in Help.

SAP EWM – MFS functional Consultant

1. SAP EWM MFS (Material Flow System) Functional consultant must know the basic set-up of MFS and also the material flows. this is more required otherwise he cannot design it and map it in SAP.

2. Must have knowledge in conveyor management system (Automatic Storage and Retrieval System), which in turn communicates to various PLC legacy systems which will manage bins in ware house using RFID.

3. He should have working experince in domain Warehouse industry..otherwise he cannot know how to handle PLCs, sensors and local controllers and he should get engineering knowledge.

SAP EWM – MFS Technical consultant

Technical Consultant would have working experience in SAP-EWM – MFS process knowledge Strong knowledge of ABAP OOPs concepts with ABAP Object Oriented hands-on experience.

SAP Interfaces like Idocs/ File approach / BAPIs / ALEs with hands-on experience Implicit and Explicit Enhancements, BADIs and Exits (User/Customer/Screen) hands-on

Knowledge of SAP Queues and RFCs (example – TRFc,Queued RFCs/BGRFCs)- Currently in S/4HANA -there is no Queue set-up.

Worked on Smart forms and Adobe forms

Strong on ABAP performance techniques like parallel processing
If worked on higher versions of SAP – with new ABAP sntaxes, Knows ATC and AUT concepts is added advantage.

Overview Flow Diagram of Material Flow Systems

Here is the set-up of Conveyor based Material inward, Outward and Internal Warehouse movements..etc. this clearly indicates How MFS works in Warehouse. MFS control effective material movements/ Flow..

 

 

Send the Handling Unit Number from scanner and it will come to OPC server and stores in GE Historian. SAP PCo need to fetch those tag values from Historian and send it to SAP EWM.

SAP EWM process those notification sent from PCo  and update the Handling unit value in there table.

 

Telegram Exchange [Warehouse monitor overview]

PLC Emulator

http://www.venetica.net/Sites/PLC_Emulator/PLC_Emulator.html

PLC Emulator is a TCP/IP server utility that can be used to test the connectivity of an RFC adapter like SAP PCo in combination with the SAP EWM Material Flow System (MFS). This software can be used to monitor inbound telegrams from SAP MFS and to send telegrams to SAP MFS. Acknowledge messages are automatically generated in response to telegrams received from SAP MFS. PLC Emulator is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

User interface

PLC Emulator is operated through a single resizable split-screen window: the upper, larger text area is the telegram monitor that shows the message traffic of incoming and outgoing telegrams and reports any errors occurred in the communication layer; the smaller box at the bottom is a telegram file drop area where you can also type and paste text: drag and drop plain text telegram files with ASCII encoding onto this lower box to display their contents, edit the telegrams as required and send them to SAP MFS by pressing Enter or by clicking “Send“.

 

Set Up the Material Flow System-

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/55/953d417c94f523e10000000a155106/frameset.htm

Structure of MFS-

Below are the Main components or H/W and communication Set-up Involved in MFS

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/55/953d417c94f523e10000000a155106/frameset.htm

 

Repeating or Re sending the Acknowledged Telegram

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/55/953d417c94f523e10000000a155106/frameset.htm

MFS in Warehouse Management Monitor

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/55/953d417c94f523e10000000a155106/frameset.htm

Analyze Logs

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/55/953d417c94f523e10000000a155106/frameset.htm

Analyze MFS in Easy Graphical Framework

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/55/953d417c94f523e10000000a155106/frameset.htm

Status Management in MFS

In MFS, you can manually change the status of the following objects:

  • Conveyor segments

  • Conveyor segment groups

  • Resource

  • Communication point

  • Communication channel

This makes sense, for example, if you want to lock objects due to maintenance work or because of a malfunction.

Each time the status of an object changes, an Exception handling process is triggered. You can set an appropriate exception code in the Warehouse Management Monitor.

 

Exception Handling

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/46/6183f0239d0d68e10000000a1553f7/frameset.htm

Business Contexts

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/55/953d417c94f523e10000000a155106/frameset.htm

Internal Exceptions

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/55/953d417c94f523e10000000a155106/frameset.htm

Internal Process codes- to define how the system is to react to exceptions.

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/55/953d417c94f523e10000000a155106/frameset.htm

MFS in Warehouse Management Monitor

The warehouse management monitor provides you with the following options:

  • Invocation of information on the system status, pending tasks, and the current occupancy of communication points and resources
  • Evaluation and tracking of shipments and telegram traffic
  • Starting and stopping the communication channels
  • Targeted intervention in the event of malfunctions

You can track the following objects in the warehouse management monitor:

  • Communication channel

The communication channels will have been started. In the warehouse management monitor, you can stop or restart individual connections.

  • Communication point

You can display a list of the communication points with their current status. Various sort and selection options are available (for example, you can display malfunctioning communication points). You can also lock communication points.

  • Telegram

You can display logs of PLC telegrams received and sent. Here, too, you have various select options such as by time of transmission. This overview is an important analysis instrument in the case of malfunctions. From here, you can branch directly to the affected warehouse tasks.

  • Warehouse task

You can call up a list of the current warehouse tasks and a warehouse task history. In the case of malfunctions, you can cancel or manually confirm warehouse tasks and you can branch directly to the associated telegrams and to the creation log for the warehouse task.

  • Handling units (HUs)

You can display a list of the HUs currently located within the automatic storage retrieval system. You see their current location, the status of the associated warehouse tasks, and the related telegrams sent. Furthermore, you can divert HUs in the case of errors.

  • Conveyor segment, conveyor segment group

You can display an overview of the status of the conveyor segments or segment groups. You can also manually lock individual segments or entire segment groups.

  • Resource

You can call up a status overview or manually lock the resource.

  • Telegram buffer

Telegrams received that could not be processed remain in the inbound buffer with error flags. Where appropriate, you can manually correct them and flag them for posting.

Telegrams due to be transmitted or which have been transmitted but not yet acknowledged by the PLC are visible in the outbound buffer.

The two buffers should always be empty.

 From the warehouse management monitor, you can carry out the following activities for each node:

MFS  in ALert Monitor

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/55/953d417c94f523e10000000a155106/frameset.htm

https://help.sap.com/saphelp_ewm2007/helpdata/en/bb/3c8337fa296e6ce10000009b38f8cf/frameset.htm

We have many activities below Alert Monitor

Prerequisites

You have defined the storage type role H Material Flow Control or J Automatic Warehouse (Driven by MFS). For more information, see the Implementation Guide (IMG) for EWM under Master Data ® Storage Type.

The selection of the MFS-relevant HUs and the MFS-relevant warehouse tasks is based on the storage type role of the affected storage types. You define these storage types in Customizing for EWM.

 

Here also found out that while the high-rack AS/RS PLCs acted as a TCP Server which was also what the label-printers did, the conveyor PLCs acted as TCP client. PCo didn’t support acting as a TCP server so it was clear we had to develop our own tiny middleware.

Java Connector in the most recent version that SAP offers

Linux-OS out of reliability reasons as factor of safety- Our client decided to use stand by.

Normally recommended thing is PCo for connecting EWM to MFS ..etc.. but due to the failure in PCo while implementing it. Our client technical experts did work around after discussion with SAP.

Please refer below SCN links on PCo    SAP PCo is an RFC Adapter here.

https://archive.sap.com/discussions/thread/1676617

https://archive.sap.com/discussions/thread/3214577

https://archive.sap.com/discussions/thread/1706237

Instead of PCo – Our client decided to use JCo

Label applicator specifics

The label applicators are a combined unit of label printer, the applicator mechanics and a signal tree. They are also connecting to EWM via socket connections and expect telegrams with the label print data.

Applicator unit. In order to make it work, a status of the unit must be requested first, which gives a print-job number, then the telegram which has the full payload of the label data (similar to e.g. a Zebra-Printer language) is sent to the print-unit. Around 2-3 telegram cycles of status exchange and paste command are going back and forth for a successful printing.

Since the EWM is hosted off-site and a network roundtrip time of 90ms is a fact our client technical experts integrated the above mentioned logic into the Java code which of course greatly improves performance while at the same time kept the EWM development effort low. Changes in EWM had to be made to manage layouts and printing via telegrams instead of Smartforms or SapScript. Our client decided here to build on SAP’s standard condition technique for layout and relevance determination (e.g. customer or communication point).

The use of SAP MFS (SAP material flow system) enables a two-tier system architecture SAP SPS with seamless SAP integration, simplified interfaces, a high degree of standardisation, and significant cost savings in ongoing operations, maintenance and support. The homogenised system landscape eliminates sources of error and ensures optimum data transparency. This results in significant efficiency gains in the picking process in the packaging and dispatch unit.

The automatic control in the warehouse, logistics or distribution centre occur directly from SAP. Through the SAP EWM integrated material flow component SAP MFS, a close link between the flow of material and optimisations can be achieved with the warehouse management at central locations and in a system. This facilitates the comparison of deposited control strategies, as well as the resource utilization at the mechanics level. Multi-order-picking and Value-added Services according to the principle “Goods to the person” are also possible, such as multi-level input and retrieval processes, as well as the multi-depth storage of small parts.

SAP MFS submits the trip orders in real time directly to the PLC of the rack feeders or to the connected conveyance means. Input and retrieval strategies are fully deposited in SAP MFS and process improvements can be undertaken at any time, for instance through equipartition of articles and/or route-optimised storage location determination. Even complex conveyor system layouts, which extend over several levels including buffer and sorting tracks, can be fully depicted in the SAP MFS. In the case of outages, dynamic diversion strategies can be enabled, which maintain the availability of the system. Special functions and ergonomic SAP dialogue support the pickers in the workplace through comfortable easy-to-use, easy-to-solve user dialogues.

With the SAP extended warehouse management (EWM) and the SAP material flow system (MFS) for connecting automated storage technology components, a high-performance platform for control and optimisation of intra logistic processes is available. The use of proprietary material flow system or subsystems, even in highly automated logistics systems such as automatic small-parts warehouses or shuttle systems, for pick & pack functions, for the connection of automated storage technology or forklift control systems and for the use of RFID technology are no longer required – just to mention a few examples.

Middle ware connecting SAP EWM to MFS or any other Plant connectivity phase.

High availability was a major requirement for the small middleware which we developed. Since the PLCs require specific ports and IP addresses (they would refuse communicating with non-registered IPs) we had to either come up with a clustered server with plenty of NICs or many physical boxes to for communication.

Our client  decided for low-cost mini-PCs from ECS on which we installed Linux together with the Oracle Java runtime. The open source Java showed performance drops.

Our client Hardware experts advised to create backup-images of each device and in case of failure a new unprepared US$300 box is ready in under some few minutes. However, we found the devices to work very stable, no crash and no restart within 2-3 months. They run headless (no display) and are managed by classic Windows Remote Desktop connection which is supported by xrdp that we installed on them.

 

Users of SAP EWM / MFS will benefit from a range of functions that allows an automated handling of many steps or tasks, for example:

Order consolidation

Compaction and packaging processes with plausibility procedures

Automatic identification of handling units (HUs)

Automatic ejection of not storable HUs

Fully automatic storage of HU´s through any number of reporting points

Reduction of unladen trips, about doubles of the stacker cranes

Identification of capacity limits at reporting points and conveyance means
Activation and deactivation of conveyor segments
Combination of conveyance means into groups
Check of the reporting points for the warehouse management monitor
Secure telegram traffic with the PLC level through bi-directional communication channels.

Below Connection Scheme taken from SAP website. Thanks to SAP.

using EWM- MFS we can utilize

High bay warehouse systems

Small parts AS/RS

Shuttle storage

Multi- Deep storage

Conveyor systems

Automated Guided Vehicle systems

monorail overhead conveyors

in-floor conveyor systems (IFCs)

Goods to person

Pick-by/to-light

I hope this blog will help us to understand the SAP EWM- MFS system and its functionalities. Thanks for the contineous Support.

Please find my SAP WM, EWM related information in the below SCN blog web link.

https://people.sap.com/shivakkumar.geethavenkatesan79

 

https://people.sap.com/shivakkumar.geethavenkatesan79

Regards,

G.V.Shivakkumar

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