Avoidable pitfalls in production integration in SAP EWM

Picture of Phillipp Rausch

Phillipp Rausch

In the first part on the topic “4 variants of production integration with SAP S/4HANA EWM”, we explained possible variants of production integration to help you find the right one for you. Today, we would like to draw attention to recurring pitfalls and show where production supply should be extended and what benefits we can derive from it.

Production supply process flow

Identify recurring hurdles prior to production integration

It is worth discussing workflow details with all stakeholders in advance of a production integration and defining them before integration. In this way, errors can be avoided right from the start.

  • Batch determination

    When it comes to batch determination, there are always conflicts between the production and warehouse departments as to who determines the batch to be provided. Often, certain batch characteristics have to be taken into account for the production of materials, especially in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. We also feel the effects of this conflict in the SAP world in the form of the question of whether batch determination must take place before or after process order release. If one decides in favor of batch determination in EWM, the stock removal strategy must be extended so that the corresponding batch characteristics are taken into account during stock determination.

  • RF / NWBC: different functions

    By default, SAP offers two different options for posting consumption during production. On the one hand, there is the Netweaver Business Client (NWBC) which runs exclusively on a terminal. On the other hand, users can post consumption via the RF devices. However, there are some restrictions here that need to be taken into account.

    The first limitation is the posting of the excess consumption with the RF device. If the personnel on the line for a production order wants to post an excess consumption to the order, the SAP standard does not allow this posting.

    The next constraint is line teardown. By provisioning single-order components, the PMA references are written to the respective stocks, thus ensuring provisioning to the production order through the reservation.

    When the production order has been fully processed, you want to clear your production line to be able to start with the next order. To do this, the stock references to the order must be detached from the handling units (HU). The NWBC offers a clean solution here to organize the removal of the HUs and to create the return transfer to the warehouse via a warehouse task. This possibility is missing in the RF environment.

Netweaver Business Client Interface: Production
  • Ad hoc provisioning

    For ad hoc staging in production, SAP provides various options for staging inventories using warehouse tasks. However, these all require a certain system affinity or training in handling the complex transactions.

    For example, when creating the storage tasks required for picking and staging, it must be clear to the employees whether they want to use an HU or product storage task and the corresponding transactions. If the wrong variant is used, this becomes apparent through undesired system behavior, or production comes to a standstill because not enough components are available for consumption. Furthermore, the stock to be staged must be selected manually, which leads to specifications regarding stock removal in the form of first-in-first-out, first-expired-first-out, etc. not being adhered to.

    In order to reduce the complexity at this point, we have added a mobile application to our portfolio of standard developments, which completely takes care of inventory determination and storage task creation. The end user only has to scan the storage location to be supplied and, in the case of multiple occupancy, the material. The rest is taken care of independently by the system and the staff can focus on their main activity, production.

Ad hoc production supply at a glance

Take advantage of the analysis benefits!

Correct analysis of production supply offers a value-added aspect and can provide comprehensive benefits. A manufacturing company can reduce costs by minimizing the amount of rejects in production. But how can SAP EWM and especially extended production supply contribute to this?

On the one hand, a well-maintained system consisting of master and transaction data can help to minimize scrap. On the other hand, the training of employees is a central point in this cycle. Only well-trained personnel in combination with a functioning system can save costs, e.g. through avoided scrap.

01. Save costs with master data maintenance

As already mentioned, the maintenance of master data is an important adjusting screw. By maintaining best-before dates, for example for perishable raw materials, scrap can be significantly reduced. Of course, quality controls also play a major role. It is often advisable to carry out quality control for various products at different intervals.

One possibility of quality inspection is to move raw material from the warehouse, controlled by the layout-oriented control system, to an intermediate station at the quality inspection and only after successful inspection to bring the material to the staging area.

02. Avoiding idle time saves production costs

Avoiding idle time in production is just as important as avoiding scrap. This is because idle time in production means losses for the manufacturing company, as it has to accept sales losses during the time when the machines are at a standstill or the employees on the line are unable to process orders.

Save costs

Save time

Efficient use of lines

Value creation through production integration in the company

But how can idle time be avoided? For one thing, good time management is important here. In production supply, time management means that times for retooling machines, delivery routes in the warehouse, etc. must be calculated in advance in the creation of the production plan to allow a steady flow of supply.

One possibility is to divide the staging into smaller areas. This means that for each production line there is a production supply area and a staging area for the current order. In addition, one can plan for the creation of a so-called buffer area. Here, pallets of the following production orders can be parked temporarily. This guarantees a smooth process between the production of the first order and the stocking of the next order.

03. Ensure traceability to handle recalls quickly

Why is traceability in production supply so important in the first place? In many industries, such as pharmaceuticals or food, it is important that the products to be manufactured are closely monitored and that traceability can be traced back to the beginning of the raw material chain.

It can always happen that products are put into circulation that are later recalled because they may have defects. As a result, the company incurs high costs for the recall and return transport of the goods or, in the worst case, even damage to its image.

To avoid this, it is important that the raw materials/finished materials are provided with a best-before date, expiration date, or batch when the master data is created in SAP ERP/EWM. This is the only way to ensure exact traceability. Of course, in the end, it is crucial that the individual raw materials and, in the end, the finished product have been properly and carefully checked for quality.

04. Optimization during deployment

In order to carry out an optimization, you should know your internal process flows exactly. Only then is it possible to adapt an optimal deployment. But what can you do to carry out an optimization? As mentioned above, you should first know and thoroughly understand your process flows. Then, focus on deployment optimization and vulnerability analysis.

Short delivery routes can be a factor in provisioning. If the delivery routes in the warehouse are kept short, it is also possible to react accordingly in the event of problems so that the supply chain is not interrupted during provision.

05. Process reliability through strong integration

Process reliability through strong integration or Industry 4.0 – both pursue the same goal. Production is to be adapted so that man and machine become one. Ultimately, the intelligent networking of machines and processes with the aid of communication and information technologies should facilitate work in such a way that new organizational and control options are created for the entire value chain. This will make production significantly more efficient, individualized and dynamic, which should be the goal of every company

Value creation of production integration

We are here for You!

As you can see, the answer to the initial question of which type of production supply is the right one cannot be given as a blanket answer. It should be illuminated together with the customer in intensive discussions and under consideration of all parameters of the process. For the optimum result, the process must be analyzed, detached from the behavior of the warehouse management system currently in use! A look beyond the end of one’s nose is worthwhile in any case.

Are you also faced with the challenge of optimizing production supply as part of your digitization strategy or the move to SAP S/4HANA? We will be happy to support you, just get in touch with us. If you have any questions, please contact blog@leogistics.com

Philipp Rausch
Consultant SAP Logistics

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