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An S/4HANA Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) powered Lego Warehouse with SAP Cloud Platform

During the SAP Festival 2019 in Belgium we showed our SAP S/4HANA Extended Warehouse Management Lego Warehouse training solution to the big audience for the first time. Together with a few colleagues we built this solution as a showcase on how we can drive innovation into businesses by incorporating the latest SAP products and intelligent technologies, all the while focusing on simplification and end-user experience.

Our main drivers for creating this training solution:

  • Visualization
  • Innovation
  • Automation
  • Learning

Why we built an SAP S/4HANA eWM Warehouse with Lego Mindstorms

During several of our SAP Extended Warehouse Management training sessions we noticed that it’s very easy to lose contact with the real world while explaining different warehouse processes. This especially happens when we’re unable to leverage the shop floor for training. Resulting in people not fully understanding all functionality explained during the training / demo sessions.

Our solution? Create a demo warehouse which shows exactly what would happen on the shop floor when executing actions in SAP Extended Warehouse Management.

By visualizing what would happen on the shop floor, we ensure each trainee fully understands the actions taken in the SAP S/4HANA Extended Warehouse Management system. The same off course applies for demo purposes when businesses are thinking about using or migrating to SAP S/4HANA Extended Warehouse Management.

Since there is no such thing as a preconfigured demo warehouse and because each detail mattered and we wanted full flexibility regarding how things would look like, we chose to use Lego Mindstorms for our setup.

How a “simple” Lego Warehouse incorporates a lot of innovative SAP products and technologies

To cover as much as possible real-life scenario’s, we had quite some requirements. Some of them being:

  • A self-driving forklift to simulate manual or automatic actions in the warehouse
  • Tracking of multiple sensor data of a pallet (e.g. temperature, humidity, movement, …)
  • User-friendly way to trigger and monitor warehouse movements
  • Integration within the standard Extended Warehouse Management processes
  • Ability to use different warehouse lay-outs

As you can probably imagine, there is no standard way to integrate a Lego Mindstorms setup within SAP S/4HANA. But with the full power of our Solution Enablement Team and our Innovation Tribe we were able to pull it off by combining multiple of the latest SAP products and technologies.

Our solution basically consists out of 4 layers:

  • Hardware Layer
    • Lego Mindstorms Robot
      • Connecting to SAP Cloud Platform Internet of Things services
    • Intel NUC
      • Configured as an Internet of Things Gateway
  • SAP S/4HANA 1909 Backend
    • S/4HANA Extended Warehouse Management setup
    • Custom module for Lego integration
      • To convert warehouse tasks into instructions for the Lego Mindstorms Robot (including route calculation)
      • To send instructions to the Lego Mindstorms Robot
      • To receive confirmations from the Lego Mindstorms Robot
  • SAP Cloud Platform IoT service and SAP Cloud Platform Leonardo IoT service
    • Bi-directional communication from S/4HANA to the Lego Mindstorms Robot
    • Capturing Texas Instruments sensor data
    • Exposing data to SAP Analytics Cloud
  • Presentation Layer
    • SAP Cloud Platform Portal Services
      • Fiori Apps
        • Lego Warehouse
        • Lego Warehouse Monitoring
    • Mendix App
      • Lego Mindstorms Robot monitor
    • SAP Analytics Cloud
      • Dashboards combining both S/4HANA Extended Warehouse Management data and data from IoT sensors
    • SAP Conversational AI
      • Alexa integration to interact with Lego Warehouse
      • WhatsApp integration

High-level this looks like:

Seeing it in action

This solution is available in the SAP Customer Experience Center in Belgium (Evere) and in our own Innovation Garage at TheValueChain NV.

Small demo of when we integrated SAP Conversational AI:

Full solution overview:

Want a live demo? We’re always happy to show you our latest version and innovations in our Innovation Garage! Feel free to reach out!

What will the future bring?

At this point we’re already looking into extending our solution with additional EWM solutions we’ve built internally (think of scanning apps, label printing integration, …) and other SAP Cloud Platform services (e.g. Machine Learning, ..).

Where will it stop? We don’t know! Our motto: the only limitation to innovation is your own imagination!

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