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Warehouse Insights – The planning and optimization application for modern warehouses

Today I would like to bring your attention to SAP Warehouse Insights, a product we have released since November 2019 but did not have the opportunity to give it the appropriate time in the spotlight. Now with the latest 2003 March update, as well as a new Trial System open for subscription, we thought it would be a good moment to present an overview of Warehouse Insights (WI).
SAP Warehouse Insights is an Advanced Planning Tool on the SAP Cloud Platform, dedicated to the optimization of warehouse operations and resource utilization. Through Advanced Algorithms, Cloud Computing and Machine Learning, this planning tool complements SAP Extended Warehouse Management’s functions and capabilities with warehouse layouts visualization, warehouse operation KPIs analysis, resource utilization simulations, and real-time warehouse operations optimization. Warehouse Insights has been designed for the use of customers from any and all industries and sizes, who want to better utilize their warehouse resources, and perform their warehouse tasks with the most efficient methods possible.
We have many features planned for this tool, but you can already use it in a significant way to:

  • Optimize the assignment of warehouse orders to resources to minimize empty travel distances
  • Analyze KPIs of warehouse operations based on historical data, such as workload and travel distances of resources
  • Visualize the warehouse layout and resource travel paths

To further elaborate this, I would like to share with you a few highlights.

WAREHOUSE LAYOUT
With this App, users can view their warehouse layout graphically and interactively. There are two main benefits of using this App that we would like to point out. For one, it allows warehouse supervisors to view an accurate map of the warehouse, with information such as bin details, and ensure that all coordinates are maintained for a fair and precise travel time calculation. But more importantly, this App has the path analysis function. Path analysis will display the recommended best travel path on the layout by using the start and end storage bins, or just a warehouse order ID, as inputs.

App: Warehouse Layout with visualization of storage sections

 

MANAGE TRAVEL DISTANCE NETWORK
The “Travel Distance Network” App forms the foundation of all distance calculations within Warehouse Insights. With it, warehouse planners can check the completeness of the travel distance network and view all the existing edges on a graphical layout. In case there are impassable paths in the network, users can easily create edges to connect those paths based on existing nodes. To do this, a node on the warehouse layout must be chosen as a start node, and then another node as the end one. After activating the changes, a new path in the network will be created.

App: Manage Travel Distance Networks

 

WAREHOUSE OPERATIONS OVERVIEW – OFFLINE DATA
With SAP Warehouse Insights, we are offering more analytical tools to gain a deeper insight into the warehouse operations and its performance. Users can view the reports of key performance indicators (KPIs) based on their historical data:

  • Resource utilization by resource
  • Resource workload by resource group
  • Resource workload by queue
  • Empty travel distance by resource type
  • Total travel distance by resource
App: Warehouse Operations Overview


SIMULATE ORDER ASSIGNMENT – OFFLINE OPTIMIZATION
Historical data can be used for more than just gaining deeper insights on warehouse operations performance. With historical transaction data, SAP Warehouse Insights users can simulate warehouse order and resource assignments to find which areas, what type of resources, and what kind of order have an optimization potential. This optimization can reduce the empty travel distance of warehouse resources, and the costs incurred as a result of these travels.

App: Simulate Order Assignments – comparison of total empty travel distance


With the side-by-side comparison between “before” and “after” optimization data, a user can get a clear view of the resources’ travel paths in the warehouse and their empty/loaded travel distance for each warehouse order.

App: Simulate Order Assignments – general comparison of before and after optimization


LIVE OPTIMIZATION
After obtaining the desired simulation results, the optimization settings can be replicated for those warehouse resources that demonstrated a lot of potential during the simulation. In the “Define optimization settings” App, users can define different optimization sets for the work in different floors. Once the live optimization is activated according to the settings, the open warehouse orders will be read from the EWM system and their assignments will be optimized to the current active resources. The results will be sent back to EWM for execution.

App: Define Optimization Settings

 

Furthermore, when live optimizations are activated in the “Define optimization settings” app, the system runs the optimization jobs periodically. In each job, the system performs the following actions:

  • Retrieves open warehouse orders & tasks from a destination system, such as an SAP EWM system, at specified intervals e.g. every 20 minutes
  • Optimizes the sequence of warehouse orders assigned to a resource. The optimized sequence helps resources reduce empty travel distance or meet latest start dates
  • Sends the optimized warehouse order assignments back to a destination system

As an example, we have a typical scenario which shows how the integration between Warehouse Insights and EWM takes place in the Live optimization process:

  1. Warehouse Insights periodically reads information of open warehouse orders and active resources from EWM, by the ODATA service to the Cloud
  2. The optimization runs for the next batch of order assignment and the result is sent back to EWM for persistence by ODATA service
  3. In the Warehouse Management Monitor in EWM, users can view the optimized warehouse order assignments via a new node “Optimized Exec. Plan of Warehouse Orders
  4. A resource which works with system guided RF processing can get the next warehouse order from the optimized result via a dedicated BAdI


MONITOR LIVE OPTIMIZATION
With the “Monitor live optimization” App, warehouse supervisors can get an overview of the optimization results for open warehouse orders assigned to the resources in the warehouse.

App: Monitor Live Optimization

 

For example, the App can show the optimized sequence of warehouse orders for a resource. By following this sequence, a resource can reduce unnecessary empty travel distance and time. That means there are fewer situations when a resource carries no goods between the destination location of the last completed warehouse order and the start location of the next open warehouse order.


NEW WITH 2003 – HEATMAP
With the new Heatmap App, users can obtain a holistic view on the number of operations happening on a storage bin. The “heat” in this case represents the number of tasks for each storage bin. With this information, warehouse supervisors can check for bottlenecks within their operations and see where there is potential to maximize asset utilization.

App: Heatmap with prominent color gradient


NEW WITH 2003 – DEFINE BIN COORDINATES
With Warehouse Insights you can now import the warehouse layout from Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems in a PDF format. With the layout imported users can manually define a set of bin coordinates in the system which will then help the system calculate the coordinates automatically for the rest of the bin locations. This app will help users maintain the bin coordinates more easily and much faster.

App: Define Bin Coordinates


TRIAL SYSTEM IS NOW AVAILABLE
We are also excited to announce that a free trial system is open now for subscription. All our SAP customers, partners and employees are eligible for subscription. There are two necessary steps to subscribe to the trial.

First, you must get a Cloud Foundry trial account in the SAP Cloud Platform via the following link:
https://help.sap.com/viewer/3504ec5ef16548778610c7e89cc0eac3/Cloud/en-US/046f127f2a614438b616ccfc575fdb16.html

After getting that trial account, you then subscribe to the SAP Warehouse Insights trial from the SAP Cloud Platform, which you can then through this link: https://help.sap.com/viewer/0c8f55f8b09f43a39898a35cac112846/LATEST/en-US/00fcbadeb07f415aa8d677d207679c8b.html

The service is free of charge. The cloud foundry trial account has a limited use for up to 30 days, with the possibility to extend the trial period for up to 90 days. However, after the deadline has passed the account is automatically deleted.

To find out which are the features available in the trial system, please access the following help page: https://help.sap.com/viewer/0c8f55f8b09f43a39898a35cac112846/LATEST/en-US/b8fa968a528e40459e98198d2a6c38a6.html


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
We also have documented the prerequisites of connecting SAP Warehouse Insights to SAP Extended Warehouse Management, which you can find by clicking on this “SAP Help Portal” link.

For a deeper dive into Warehouse Insights we provide an L1 presentation which you can access via the following link: SAP Warehouse Insights L1

For more information about SAP Extended Warehouse Management, please follow us on social media, our YouTube channel or our community pages:

SAP EWM Community -> https://www.sap.com/community/topics/extended-warehouse-management.html

SAP Digital Supply Chain Channel -> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCELmE2CEAkcwqpBLnuZHufA

EWM LinkedIn Community -> https://www.linkedin.com/groups/1952257/

6 Comments
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  • Excellent article with a detailed description of the benefits of using this app. I am new to this forum, just trying to go through the cloud foundry trial page. Can you please guide me what are the pre requisites of this app? We are using S4 HANA 1809 and FIORI but haven’t acquired EWM. Can I somehow test this app?

    Witnessing the benefits from the optimization that this app offers, a case can be made for acquisition of EWM in the near future.

    • Hello Martin,

      Thank you for your patience, the link has been modified, and now should take you in the right direction.

      Best regards,
      Gheorghe

  • Hello,

    I have successfully uploaded warehouse data into a WI trial system, inlcuding Confirmed Warehouse Tasks and Orders. I have enhanced TDC network to be complete. I can see the the Warehuse Operations graphs nicely.

    But if I try to run the app “Simulate Order Assignement (offline)”, it is required to adjust the filter setting, which consist of Year, Month and Resource Assignment field. I can select both Year and Month, but in te field “Resource Assignment” there are no values to define the filter.

    This is apparently the reason, why I can’t run the simulation?

    What needs to be done more?

    Many thanks

    Martin

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