by Kelvin Fraser
It’s probably fair to say that adoption of SAP’s HANA in memory database, launched seven years ago, has been a ‘slow-burn’. Today, however, it’s starting to get the recognition it deserves.
We’ve referenced the crucial role SAP HANA plays in transforming businesses for the digital economy in a previous blog, Driving operational excellence with S/4 HANA
Key to its exceptional performance is the simplified data model, which enables data to be stored, updated and accessed in record time. This makes reliable real-time information a reality and results in one version of the truth across the whole organisation. In any environment where there are a large number of transactions, this becomes evermore important as enterprises face the challenges of operating in the digital economy.
Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) provides an ideal example. The speed enabled by HANA is able to increase the number of warehouse transactions exponentially. The lot size of one is becoming the norm in the digital economy, raising the number of transactions processed from hundreds to thousands per day; the speed of HANA enables this quite literally game-changing order of magnitude to happen.
Optimised stock handling
Looking at a task such as radio frequency (RF) voice picking helps to put this into context. Even a one-second delay on instruction time (which results in more than two and half hours of idle time over 10,000 picks) is significant when amalgamated over a day, as well as frustrating for the picker. Adopting HANA has a highly positive impact because data is immediately available minimising latency in the voice communication.
Combined with SAP EWM’s sophisticated picking functions, the speed of HANA optimises previously inefficient picking processes to maximise the pick rate for each individual activity. Rather than each person being assigned to an individual sales order (where operatives cross paths and visit bins multiple times), they can work by warehouse area. Information on the next item and where it is in their section is provided as soon as the previous task is completed so activity is continuous and productivity maximised.
At the same time, barcode and RFID stock identification handling with EWM and HANA ensures the warehouse always has a real-time picture of stock availability.
Warehouse efficiency is further enhanced with the addition of SAP Fiori apps. Dashboards provide a real-time of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which crucially, enable drilldown, analysis and action.
For example, if 10,000 picks need to happen in one shift, the average is 1,250 picks per hour. If only 800 have been completed in the first hour, a warehouse supervisor needs to investigate and quickly take remedial steps to remove the risk of a late order completion leading to a missed shipping deadline or having a knock-on effect on the next day’s activity. Drilling down to granular information such as physical areas or resources from the dashboard allows the supervisor to isolate problems, such as technical or staff deployment issues more easily and take action more quickly.
The combination of HANA and Fiori means that information and insight are instantly available. Issues are averted before they become big problems, warehouse productivity increases and greater efficiency reduces operating costs.
Flexible and scalable
HANA makes EWM a reality for all organisations, regardless of their size. Larger enterprises can run on a decentralised warehouse system, providing resilience in an ‘always on’ environment, while SMEs can run EWM embedded in S/4 HANA (SAP’s next generation Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system simplifying the data and technology landscape. The latter also enables implementation using SAP best practices, providing rapid deployment with preconfigured processes, yet another commitment to fast, efficient and cost-effective working practice.
• SAP HANA’s in-memory function introduces unprecedented levels of speed, resulting in real-time information.
• Combining it with SAP Fiori enables analytics to be undertaken, driving real business intelligence.
• Warehouse productivity increases, while greater efficiency leads to a drop in operating costs.
• Customers see higher service levels and on-time deliveries.