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Cloud Robotics for SAP-Extended Warehouse Management, Part 3

The previous blog explained the technology underlying SAP Cloud Robotics, the supported scenarios and outlined the major IT tasks. This blog outlines the steps you need to take to get it working. For a detailed description, your best source is the Github repository.

Bill-of-Materials: The things you need

To implement and run Cloud Robotics for SAP-Extended Warehouse Management, you need the following pieces of software and materials:

  1. SAP Extended Warehouse Management (on-premise or hosted, only)
    • Cloud Robotics has been tested with SAP S/4HANA 1709 embedded EWM, SAP EWM 9.5 (expected compatibility with other EWM releases).
    • Cloud Robotics does not work with EWM in S/4HANA Cloud, for now.
  2. SAP EWM extension for SAP Cloud Robotics (Open Source). This extension has 3 components:
    • EWM-side OData Interface to robot-specific table extensions
    • EWM Order Manager for deployment in Google Cloud Robotics
    • EWM Robot Controller for deployment on Google Cloud Robotics
  3. Recommended, but not mandatory: SAP Cloud Connector and SAP Cloud Platform
    • Recommended for reasons of IT governance and IT security
    • Alternatively, the SAP Gateway of EWM system can be exposed for incoming connections from Google Robotics Cloud. This has not been tested, however.
  4. Access to Cloud Robotics via Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
  5. A robot, typically with additional equipment such as carts or docking stations
    • Initial focus is on warehouse automation. For a list of already supported OEMs please contact SAP
    • Effort for non-supported OEMs is low, in particular for those compatible with ROS.

If this is your first robot, there are a number of additional tasks unrelated to EWM. A robot is a new machine and like with every new machine in an industrial environment you need to get familiar and define rules. Here are some of the things to do:

  • It is helpful to have a “robot nanny”: An individual in the team who becomes familiar with the robot hardware and software provided by the robot vendor.
  • Create a SLAM map with the robot and identify points of interest. Depending on the robot, QR-codes attached to walls or columns may be a good option.
  • A corporate security officer may need to grant approval before the robot can operate.
  • Forklift drivers, packers, and other individuals need instructions on working with the robot and how to avoid dangerous situations.
  • Identify areas the robot must or should avoid such as busy aisles

How to implement

For implementation, we recommend SAP implementation services. The subsequent steps illustrate the implementation of two scenarios (see the chapter about supported scenarios in the previous blog) in a single warehouse. The chosen scenarios are cross-docking and put-away.

Roles are:

  • LoB: The line of business operating the warehouse using EWM
  • IT: The organization technically running the EWM system, performing system maintenance, upgrades, etc. In some organizations, such tasks are performed by IT consultants
  • EWM expert: An individual with in-depth SAP-EWM knowledge
  • Cloud Provider Support: Customer support by your Cloud Provider (such as Google Cloud Platform)

Preparation

# Task Task owner
1 Ensure that items from Bill-of-Materials are available IT
2 Define the storage area(s) for Put-away scenario LoB
3 Prepare storage area

  • Physically evacuate affected storage bins
  • Lock storage bins in productive system
  • Create storage bins in sandbox
IT
4 Define the scope of tests, test cases, and success criteria for the start of productive operations LoB
5 Install SAP Cloud Connector, if needed IT

Implementation in Sandbox

# Task Task owner
6 Ensure technical access to Cloud Platform IT
7 Import the EWM Extension for Cloud Robotics into Sandbox IT
8 Code adaptations to the Extension, when using old versions of EWM, only EWM expert
9 Implement SAP Cloud Connector for the sandbox and test connectivity IT
10 Test in the sandbox, in the Q-system IT, LoB
11 Create end user documentation LoB
12 Create training material for end users and schedule training LoB
13 Perform training for key users and end users LoB

The core effort for implementation (tasks # 6 – 9) can be performed within a week.

Implementation in Productive System

# Task Task owner
14 Prepare Cloud Platform project for productive operations IT
15 Set up SAP Cloud Connector for the productive system and test connectivity IT
16 Release project IT
17 Go-live transport from Q-system into the productive system IT

In the end, your robot is operational. While these steps still appear like some work, consider the effort for an additional robot: Assuming that access to the robot’s system is established, you would need to just share the SLAM map and follow the instructions to connect a robot to the cloud. Assuming the label of the new robot matches previously rolled out controller applications, those will be deployed locally on the robot.

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