User Experience Insights
Carousel Integration with SAP WM
This is my first experience as a blogger. I am working on SAP product from the past few years on SCM modules for upstream Oil & Gas industry and SAP Remote Logistics management (RLM).
Most of the warehouses have carousels to store lightweight materials and these machines use company network to operate. My main intention is to brief on the integration of such carousels with SAP.
This blog is to store materials in which there is no serial number profile active.
I will also publish on how to integrate with EWM when our client migrates to S/4 HANA in future.
Sample snap of carousel.
Introduction: Carousels are used for storing materials inside it. The machine is driven by a controller, which is nothing but a PC with touch screen available to operate. Communication with the machine happens through that touch screen.
From the controller screen we can manually select which shelf must be opened for picking or to be closed after placing the material inside it. Controller is counting the inventory and can display information to user.
To reduce the need of manual data input into the controller we can integrate it with SAP database through network communication, so that less work is needed for the warehouse operator.
Process description: Since carousels are used to store materials, so when a goods receipt or goods issue is posted in inventory, a corresponding Transfer Requirement / Transfer Order is created for PUTAWAY or PICKING activities in WM.
So the triggering point to carousel is when a transfer Order is created in SAP for picking or putaway process.
Inventory ownership: Every carousel will provide options on who should own the inventory – SAP or carousel. If we opt for SAP then SAP is the owner and we have to structure the warehouse layout of carousel with bins and then place the materials accordingly.
But if we choose carousel as the owner, then our work will be easy as the machine is capable of remembering the structure of shelfs inside it and get the right material when a SAP command (Transfer Order) is triggered.
Standard SAP approach: SAP standard approach to link WM system to any external system is by using transaction OMKY and generate IDOCs, but due to clients SCM roadmap and restrictions, IDOCs are not suitable for this interface and hence using OMKY technique is rule out.
And in order to use this carousel, we must define carousel as one of the storage type and link all the materials used in this carousel as a fixed bin in WM 2 master data screen.
Config in SAP: since carousel is the inventory owner, define carousel as a STORAGE TYPE and a new default bin and extend these 2 parameters to the materials using the carousel.
ABAP changes: Since we don’t have standard events for Transfer Order creation, we used user exits (MWMTO001, EXIT_SAPLL03T_001). Will not go in detail on the technical stuff.
Create a table to define or rather to control which storage type in a particular warehouse is relevant for SOAP call to carousel.
Network setup: Normally these machines can support either FTP or SOAP interface, we used the latter option to align with the latest technology as per client’s future roadmap.
Since carousel is a kind of PC machine, it will have an IP address and we need to expose this IP address to the company network. So take help from network team to achieve this.
Note: We need technical assistance from carousel manufacturer in order to find the IP address and to make initial setups in controller to extract WSDL file so that SAP can communicate with that machine after consuming WSDL file in SAP.
Different SOAP operations: Data transfer between SAP and Carousel will use SOAP interface – this gives real time information flow. Carousel server exposes some SOAP actions which SAP can call.
If only network connection is established through firewall rules, authentication and authorization, then SAP is able to call actions on carousel server.
Below are few of the operations normally a carousel will support.
When we generate Proxy classes on SAP side, coming from SOAP WSDL file, then all methods will be possible to call manually. That is in case we want to do some manipulations to improve data quality. But we used few methods to support TO creation, confirmation and cancellation based on the client requirement.
Below is the snap from carousel screen.
Short explanation of the controller screen:
Article – this is the material in SAP, called article in Carousel. It has some properties like description, location, inventory.
Job – we use jobs which corresponds to our Transfer Orders. Job is a message to carousel system containing information that we want to perform either picking or putaway activity from carousel.
Journal – journal events are generated after job is processed which means that warehouse operator has gone through wizard on touch screen and conformed job details.
With this we can perform PICKING or PUTAWAY processes from carousels.
Thanks for reading the blog and request to share your valuable feedback to incorporate in the next blogs.