The new Britehouse Supply Chain Management division is one of a very few such specialist organisations in the country able to offer Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) capabilities and to do so in a way that moves organisations into the digital era.
"Gartner and vendors such as Microsoft and SAP agree that the nature of business is changing as organisations digitise not just their processes, but also their products and services," says Britehouse Supply Chain Management business unit manager, Jeetendra Fakir. "They predict that every organisation will be remastered and their predictions are supported by the fact that even cigarettes have become digitised.
"In the warehouse, digitisation is already manifesting itself in the form of intelligent glasses that display to pickers which item must be picked next, where to locate it, and how to reach it in the most efficient way. This small gadget has an enormous influence on the bottom line – ensuring that cost and errors are minimised, resources are optimised, and the perfect order can be executed every time.
"EWM, coupled with insight into the potential of digitisation, make the warehouse a powerful contributor to the modern, real-time, demand-driven supply chain, significantly enhancing an organisation's ability to thrive through short-term planning."
The road to EWM is not a straightforward one, however. Fakir points out that even an apparently simple concept such as intelligent optics for pickers can be effective only if the processes and planning needed to provide the intelligence are in place.
"The days of simply using technology to automate existing processes are over. The innovation capability conferred on organisations by digitisation is game-changing. The organisations of today will not exist in their current form even a year from now. So, executive teams are having to rethink their strategies and, consequently, their operations. And doing that successfully means getting advice from organisations like Britehouse that are themselves already functioning in the digital world and have a track record of helping their customers do the same – all the way down to the warehouse."
Britehouse has more than a decade of experience of using SAP's single, unified platform, EWM. During that time, Britehouse has used EWM to help organisations adjust to continuously evolving technologies.
"Digital optics are just one more option in a long line of devices, such as RF, reach by truck, and pick by voice, with which we have empowered clients to execute the perfect order and, thereby, turn the movement of inventory into a profit centre," Fakir says. "The road to effective warehouse management is multifaceted, covering everything from mapping precise bins and travel distance calculations to labour management. And, smaller organisations don't necessarily need the full-scale sophistication without which large organisations cannot function.
"With so many different requirements, the most direct route to success is SAP Enterprise Warehouse Management, because it supports all aspects of the discipline."
EWM provides higher process and stock visibility, better warehouse planning, and more efficient distribution and storage processes.
Visibility across all nodes in the network is key to anticipating supply chain disruptions and proactively selecting the best way to respond across the entire logistics network. An integral part of SAP Supply Chain Management, EWM provides this visibility by enabling flexible, automated means to plan, source, procure, store, organise, control, monitor, transport, and deliver products.
It is designed specifically to work in high-volume warehouses with complex processes. Completely integrated into inventory management and delivery processing, it brings planning and execution functions closer together. Business processes triggered in other application components lead to physical goods movements in the warehouse.
SAP EWM addresses very fast and very slow moving items competing for the same warehouse space, vast product differences – size, weight, model year, serial number, country of origin, batch and valuation, complex cross-docking and order fulfilment processes, and integration of third-party logistics services for packaging (inbound) and packing (outbound) of products. Its control of processes inside and outside the warehouse include bundling, waves, spreading, resource management, work order, kitting, labelling, outside dock, and yard management. SAP EWM is also an enabler of third-party logistics and outsourcing support for consolidators and carriers using portal capabilities.
"In effect, EWM supports work processes that, until now, have been addressed only by non-integrated, niche solutions," Fakir says. "Its distribution techniques are aimed at dramatically improving service levels while reducing capital investment in inventories.
"It improves warehouse efficiency through functionality that keeps exceptions from becoming major issues. It transforms operations into an adaptive fulfillment supply chain in which customers, suppliers, and partners share knowledge and resources.
"And it increases competitiveness and improves the bottom line through the ability to respond more rapidly and effectively to changes in supply and demand."