SAP Forges Next Generation of RFID-Enabled Business Solutions with Kimberly-Clark

Going beyond the market’s first wave of RFID solutions that focused largely on tagging shipments to retailers, SAP’s next-generation solutions will use RFID-enabled business processes to help manufacturers and retailers automate business practices, curb costs and act from a higher level of business insight. The first fruition of the collaboration with Kimberly-Clark, Electronic Proof of Delivery (E-POD), helps alleviate a disconnect that has long existed between goods makers and retailers by reducing invoice discrepancies and improving inventory visibility insights. The announcement was made at the EPCglobal U.S. Conference 2005, being held in Atlanta, Georgia, September 13 – 15.
SAP and Kimberly-Clark will continue to leverage EPCglobal efforts to promote standards based solutions to the marketplace. SAP is bringing to bear the state-of-the-art Auto-ID, analytical and event-driven technologies provided by the SAP NetWeaver platform to collect, analyze and act on EPC (electronic product code) data shared among Kimberly-Clark and its trading partners. Kimberly-Clark has already deployed SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure as the system of record of enterprise-wide EPC information and as the interface that controls all EPC information flowing into mySAP ERP. “Through this joint effort with SAP, we are moving beyond the era of compliance and delivering on the value-creation promised by RFID,” said Mike O’Shea, director of Auto-ID Sensing Technologies, Kimberly Clark. “This supports K-C’s vision of using RFID to drive business value and insights for its customers, shoppers, users and internal operations.”

Closing an age-old gap between manufacturers and retailers

Electronic Proof of Delivery is the first of a series of RFID-enabled solutions to result from the collaboration between SAP and Kimberly-Clark. E-POD addresses the long-standing problem of invoice reconciliation, particularly those invoices that possess shipping and receiving discrepancies between consumer product manufacturers and retailers. The highly manual and error-prone processes of shipping and receiving, along with receipt mismatches against a purchase order, impact inventory accuracy and increase administrative costs. The high levels of granularity, accuracy and timeliness provided by EPC data and new RFID read-events allow E-POD to automatically match the physical flow of goods and the information flow of business transactions at various points in the supply chain and reduce instances of discrepancies. Already used to manage the full life cycle of orders, invoices and payments, SAP software will become “aware” of serialized EPC data. With E-POD, SAP is enhancing its solutions to take advantage of an additional level of detail that provides real-time information and insights to keep businesses running efficiently and productively.
E-POD taps into the event-driven paradigm within SAP NetWeaver to arm end users with a collaborative dashboard that displays filtered alerts, business intelligence, associated business data and a list of appropriate actions to resolve issues raised by the alerts. The system generates alerts in real time based on a variety of business rules. Because the EPC data is shared with and collected from retail partners, these alerts enable the manufacturer or retailer to take appropriate action. At the same time, the SAP software automatically gathers related business background information (such as purchase order and advanced shipment notification, ASN) as part of the RFID read-event. E-POD is extremely configurable as it enables companies to incorporate their standard operating procedures as best-practice templates.
E-POD lays the foundation for KC to help realize its vision of “zero-latency decision support” by tightly weaving analytics, business processes and physical product flow events and actions into an end-to-end business application. This integrated RFID-based business transaction and decision-support technology will serve as the foundation for SAP’s RFID-enabled business processes planned for the future. The E-POD joint project is planned to go live by early 2006. “SAP and Kimberly-Clark are leveraging a long-standing collaboration that has taken both companies to a significant leadership position in the industry” said Claus Heinrich, member of the executive board, SAP AG. “E-POD and subsequent planned RFID-enabled business solutions will deliver tangible return on investment beyond compliance with retailer requirements to Kimberly Clark and to other companies that decide to leverage these solutions.”

Source: SAP AG