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Author's profile photo Joerg Michaelis

Agile SAP Extended Warehouse Management Implementation for Japanese Fashion Industry

Today’s article highlights creative solutions in implementing SAP EWM for industries with unique requirements. More specifically, it provides a summarized overview of what can be relevant business requirements and possible solutions for the Japanese fashion and retail industry when setting up an automated warehouse with SAP. A more complete overview is provided by Gunter Albrecht, a Business Transformation Principal at SAP, who wrote 2 articles on the topic, one presenting the story of a specific project for the fashion industry in Japan, and the second focusing on the material flow systems (MFS) specific for Japanese programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

We want to bring attention to this implementation project since it presents the flexibility of SAP EWM to adapt and integrate with unique business setups and requirements specific to industries and regions. In this particular case it is about setting up SAP EWM with a strong focus on material flow systems for the fashion industry in Japan. This project was realized with a hybrid project methodology. Since May 2016 operations started smoothly with a more streamlined setup, of which you can read more in his overview. Suffice to say, the project itself presented a few significant challenges from the start, which stem from the unique requirements of the fashion industry in Japan.

The first challenge to overcome is the lack of standardization in the Japanese fashion and retail industry. Voucher-Number logic is a unique requirement in Japan, and it called for a consistent information flow through ERP and WMS systems, which standard SAP wouldn’t provide.

The second challenge was that SAP’s former industry solution AFS (Apparel and Footwear Solution) wouldn’t connect with EWM and the extension for it was in a ramp-up.

The last hurdle to overcome came from the existing warehouse itself, which was highly automated. It contained 3.5km of carton conveyor tracks and several high-rack shelf systems for automated box and pallet storage and retrieval. These, along with a digital picking system and many label printers, had to be connected on a material flow level. For that end, EWM needed to learn how to speak to multiple Japanese programmable logic controllers.

Gunter’s article covers in-depth many aspect of the implementation, from warehouse structure decisions, to goods receipt changes and system architecture. But the main highlight of this project was how it connected Japanese PLCs to EWM-MFS. In Gunter’s MFS article, you can find an explanation on how the project worked around the fact that the two big players in material flow in Japan had left their footprint in the warehouse.

I highly recommend you give both articles a thorough read, as I hope that the story of this project can inspire new creative solutions for your own projects. We hope to share more such stories and business cases with you in the future, and until then I wish you all a safe and healthy year ahead.

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