SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) in the Life Sciences Industry

The increased pressure on the Life Science industry to adhere to regulatory compliance and have full traceability of their products has forced companies to take a hard look at their current warehousing and distribution processes.  A fully integrated supply chain with complete visibility is now more important than ever to combat the increase in counterfeit drugs and ensure patient safety while still meeting customer demand.  Tenthpin Management Consultants are the experts for entire Supply Chain Planning, Execution and Monitoring in Life Science.

As part of their migration journey to S/4 HANA, many companies are in the process of deciding on the size and the scope of their future ERP footprint. This specifically includes decisions on which operational supply chain processes should be run by SAP solutions, given that true innovation will mostly happen outside of the “system of records”.  In the area of warehouse management, SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) is one of many potential solutions available in the market. Our consultants are engaged in a number of warehouse management system implementations and have a neutral and unbiased view on SAP EWM, its benefits and its challenges, including deployment options and migration scenarios.

SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) is the latest solution delivered by SAP for optimizing warehouse, production supply and distribution center operations.  It supports:

  • Higher process excellence and accurate stock visibility
  • Robust planning of warehouse operations and monitoring
  • Efficient operation of distribution, production supplies, and storage processes
  • Enhanced RF technology (including voice / RFID)
  • Embedded material flow systems for seamless automation integration

SAP EWM has standard integration with:

  • SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or S/4HANA
  • SAP Advanced Track and Trace for Pharmaceuticals (ATTP)
  • SAP Global Batch Traceability (GBT)
  • SAP Transportation Management (TM)
  • SAP Yard Logistics (YL)

EWM Core Functions and Features

The below diagram illustrates many of the functions and features that are standard within SAP EWM.

The Life Sciences industry is increasingly having to deal with the growing issue of counterfeit drugs.  Integrating RFID tags is one method of more closely tracking products to ensure their authenticity.  EWM is integrated with SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure (AII).

Serialized products are used widely in the life sciences industry.  Serial Number Management functionality has been expanded to cover all processes from goods receipt through goods issue at the storage bin level.  This traceability can also be expanded with the integration of SAP Advanced Track and Trace for Pharmaceuticals (ATTP).

Selection of the most suitable product during picking is critical for life science companies.  Batch Management is at the core of this requirement and is a foundational component of SAP EWM.  Users can view batch-specific information and characteristic data on all batch relevant stock queries.

The integration of automated systems such as conveyors, sortation equipment, cranes, vertical lift modules and automated storage and retrieval systems are becoming the norm in today’s warehouses. SAP EWM provides integrated control of these systems with the Material Flow System (MFS) component.

In the previous releases, EWM has become more tightly integrated with manufacturing.  Advanced Production Integration allows the supply of products to production as well as the receipt of products from production directly in EWM. This is done by integrating with the manufacturing order processing in SAP ERP.  One benefit of this is that you can execute the warehouse activity already distributed to EWM for manufacturing orders even if ERP is not available.

Migrating from WM to EWM

According to the latest news from SAP, support for WM within ECC environments will end in 2025.  Add to this that SAP has not made enhancements to WM in some time and it does not plan to move forward.  All future innovations will be made in EWM.  With this in mind, most of our SAP WM customers are now moving to EWM.

Tenthpin Management Consultants have firsthand experience assisting our clients through the WM to EWM migration.  This approach has many benefits when compared to a greenfield EWM implementation.  Some of which include, faster implementation due to the time saved by being able to leverage existing configuration and customer specific master data can be used right away in the Dev/QA environments.

One key area to focus on when migrating from WM to EWM is the analysis of current custom objects and enhancements.  Many custom enhancements made to WM may now be standard in EWM and can, therefore, be removed.  Others that are still required will need to be reviewed and amended.

Deployment Options

Several deployment options are available when implementing SAP EWM.  Our two recommended options are, Embedded EWM which is part of S/4HANA and Decentralized EWM (SCM Server) which connects to either an S/4HANA or ECC system via Remote Function Calls and the Core Interface (CIF).

The decision to deploy embedded vs decentralized will be dependent on a combination of business requirements and strategic considerations.  Tenthpin works with its clients to design the best deployment approach by analyzing each location’s individual needs and aligning with the organizations SAP strategy.  Some areas to consider may include, risk mitigation, system responsiveness due to high data throughput, specifically planned downtime, different release cycles, and level of automation.

If S/4HANA is part of your strategic roadmap this will also influence your decision regarding a locations viability for the embedded deployment approach.

Tenthpin Management Consultants experience implementing EWM as part of a comprehensive supply chain strategy provides life science companies with the visibility and traceability they require to ensure regulatory compliance and patient safety.

Contact our industry experts at Tenthpin Management Consultants if you would like to learn more.

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