SAP has been named best IT brand in logistics for 2017, taking the top spot in the IT for Warehouse Management category in a reader and expert poll conducted by German logistics trade magazine LOGISTIK HEUTE and BVL, a German non-profit global supply chain network.
The win follows victory for SAP in last year’s poll in the IT for SCM/ERP and IT for Transportation Management categories.
More efficient warehousing, faster product delivery, and lower costs. According to Hans Thalbauer, senior vice president, IoT and Digital Supply Chain at SAP, these are today’s top logistics challenges.
“Some companies already deliver products to their customers within the hour,” says Thalbauer. “Fast delivery obviously means happy customers, but it means higher revenues, too.”
Accelerating a company’s processes to achieve this is largely a matter of ensuring that its transportation and warehouse management operations interconnect. “Data exchange must be rapid,” says Thalbauer.
His ideal solution is the supply chain execution platform on which “data no longer has to be shoveled from one system to the next” and on which all the relevant information converges in real time — about product locations, truck routes, departure and arrival times, weather and traffic forecasts, stock levels, and the precise position of individual components in the warehouse.
Best Logistics Brand: SAP Tops Three IT Categories
“For me, this year’s award is particularly gratifying,” says Thalbauer. “It’s an endorsement of our holistic approach to logistics, which always views warehousing and transportation as a whole.”
After collecting awards last year for SAP’s IT solutions for supply chain management and enterprise resource planning (SCM/ERP) and transportation management (SAP TM), Thalbauer picked up the “best logistics brand” prize for its solution in the IT for Warehouse Management category: SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM).
Entries for the awards were received from 260 brands, up from last year’s 170, and voting took place in 11 different categories. The categories for 2017, including Third-Party Logistics Services, Tagging and Identification, and Ocean Freight Carriers, complemented the first set of 11 from 2016. LOGISTIK HEUTE readers, along with more than 10,000 BVL members, including supply chain and logistics managers and experts, chose SAP as the best brand in the IT for Warehouse Management category, ahead of 35 other competing companies.
IoT and Warehouse Production: SAP’s Strategy
Thalbauer attributes SAP’s success partly to the fact that, far from “just” mapping both simple and highly complex, fully automated warehouses, SAP software also allows companies to meet new requirements such as robot integration and to gain value from both current and future innovations like the IoT and warehouse production.
“The SAP logistics platform makes transportation and warehousing more efficient: It enables companies to deploy techniques such as ‘pick by vision,’ which uses smart glasses and high-performance picking systems; IoT connection creates a high level of automation; and warehouses can handle certain aspects of the production process autonomously ‒ which is crucial as goods become increasingly personalized,” he says, explaining SAP’s strategy.
So, what does this mean in practice? Today, all kinds of information is visible, including where trucks are located, which parts they’re carrying, which warehouse processes are involved, which loading bay a truck should approach, and how long unloading and reloading will take. All of this makes warehouse management operations more efficient. SAP’s IoT portfolio plays its part here too, by connecting things — trucks, tools, machines — with processes and people end-to-end along the supply chain.
And the benefits of SAP software do not stop there: “With SAP EWM, companies can map both distribution centers and production warehouses,” says Thalbauer. What at first sounds like a recipe for greater complexity does in fact result in simplification. Because when a customer orders a personalized product – in future perhaps even in lot size 1 – that product can be manufactured directly in the warehouse on a 3D printer and shipped. Accordingly, logistics providers can offer other, similar value-added services such as final product assembly in the warehouse.
SAP Transportation Management, SAP EWM, its logistics platform and the IoT solution portfolio are already part of SAP’s holistic strategy. And they are intended to form the basis for additional services:
- Employees with specific roles, such as logistics planners, will receive personalized, pre-formatted information.
- Machine learning will use Big Data to develop forecast scenarios.
- Data will be collected via IoT, analyzed via machine learning to improve efficiency and trigger actions, and transactions performed using blockchain technology.
This year’s award winners in the LOGISTIK HEUTE and BVL contest to find the best logistics brands read like a who’s who of the German logistics scene: DB Schenker won the Contract Logistics category; Jungheinrich was the winner in the Conveyor System, Warehouse Technology, and Picking category; and first prize in the Transportation and Delivery Truck category went to Mercedes.
Top image via Shutterstock