3 scenarios to connect your SAP EWM to third-party systems

Tina Pötzl

Tina Pötzl

How to flexibly integrate your EWM into your IT architecture according to your requirements

The central tasks in a warehouse essentially include planning, inventory management, storage and the transport of storage units. Not always are all these areas managed with the help of SAP systems. If we assume that disposition (sales, procurement, finance, production, materials management) 

is the responsibility of SAP ERP – how are the other areas managed? We will show which possibilities of interaction with other systems exist and which integration scenarios exist in combination with SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM).

SAP EWM offers different options to cover the tasks in warehouse management:

  • Scenario 1: SAP EWM with integrated material flow system (MFS) is responsible for inventory, storage and also transportation.
  • Scenario 2: SAP EWM is responsible for both inventory and warehousing.
  • Scenario 3: SAP EWM is only responsible for inventory.
  • Scenario 4: SAP EWM is not involved (this scenario is not discussed in detail).
3 scenarios to integrate your SAP EWM with third-party systems
Depending on the scenario, the distribution of tasks between SAP EWM and the third-party system dif-fers

SAP EWM can take over all warehouse management tasks (inventory management, storage, transportation). In contrast, stock control and the execution of movement commands are not within the scope of SAP EWM, as can be seen here in the example of the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) for which a third-party system is responsible. For this reason, the third-party systems always represent independent systems for the SAP system, which, in addition to controlling the product flow, can also take on other tasks such as optimizing warehouse movement or additional control mechanisms.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the integration scenarios for which use cases?

Scenario 1

With the integrated MFS, SAP EWM offers the possibility of connecting automated warehouse and conveyor technologies directly at the PLC level. The main use case is the control of material flows for automated storage systems such as automated small parts and high-bay warehouses. However, applications in sophisticated, highly automated logistics centers and the embedding of Internet of Things (IoT) scenarios are also possible use cases. The advantages? Direct integration avoids typical sources of error and increases process stability. In addition, the logistics processes are mapped holistically in SAP.

Connectivity Options of SAP EWM
The material flow system integrated in SAP EWM opens up many connectivity options

Scenario 2

Does your company already use an MFS that is to be integrated with the warehouse management system – represented by SAP EWM? This scenario is also conceivable and is primarily aimed at customers whose existing MFS is not to be replaced. One reason for this could be that the same provider is responsible for the PLC and the MFS, or that the end users have many years of know-how in operating the inventory software.

Last but not least, there is a need for integration of non-SAP systems, especially in view of the increasing digitalization of processes in companies. In this context, SAP interfaces allow any other software to exchange data with the SAP system.

However, it has to be considered in each individual case whether an expansion of the existing system is preferable to a new installation. For the former, the existing systems would have to be thoroughly analyzed and integrated into the new SAP EWM system, which can be made more difficult by incorrect or insufficient documentation. This may involve a lot of effort, as the old interfaces have often been in use for years.

Scenario 3

This scenario – similar to scenario 2 – comes into play when the material flow control as well as the management, monitoring and optimization of processes are managed by a third-party system. Nevertheless, SAP EWM is to be used for inventory management, since SAP EWM is already highly integrated into the processes of the ERP.

In this case, too, there is still the question of the cost-benefit factor of an extension of the inventory system compared to a new installation of SAP EWM across all areas and the associated replacement of a legacy system. The scope of the project can also serve as a basis for the decision regarding the connection of external systems to SAP EWM: The more third-party systems are to be linked to SAP EWM, the more complex and costly it becomes.

How does the integration work?

SAP EWM has an interface (EWM-LSR interface) that can be used to connect various third-party systems to SAP EWM. The flexibility of the EWM-LSR interface enables customer-specific adaptations and additions in addition to the SAP standard interface.

The interface enables communication between the connected systems using the transactional Remote Function Call (tRFC). In contrast to synchronous RFC, the system saves the data in a buffer before sending it to the connected system. This leads to a decoupling of application and communication.

We are here for you!

It is worth taking a closer look at the topic of SAP EWM and the different integration scenarios with non-SAP systems. The integration capability with non-SAP processes is also considerable and SAP EWM can be used flexibly in the warehouse. No matter which integration scenario you choose: It is important to have a well-planned and coordinated interface with up-to-date documentation. We are happy to support you as a flexible and reliable partner with whom you can shape your way into the logistical future with SAP EWM on an equal footing and transparently.

Have we piqued your interest? Then please do not hesitate to get in touch!. If you have any questions about this or other topics in the blog, please contact blog@leogistics.com.

Tina Pötzl
Consultant SAP Logistics leogistics GmbH

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