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SAP Leonardo IoT: Working in the Warehouse of the Future

Feature Article | December 26, 2017 by Rosina Geiger

“Nobody wants to push a cart in a warehouse, humans are much better at many other things.”

Ángel Hernández of the Silicon Valley startup Fetch Robotics knows that. Franz Hero, responsible for Supply Chain Development at SAP, agrees. Find out how the two companies work on the warehouse of the future.

After having met only a year ago, at the SAP Infoday for Warehouse and Logistics, Hero’s team worked on integrating the Fetch Robotics’ solution to SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM) to increase the efficiency in warehouses.

Hero knows every step from supply chain planning to supply chain execution, transportation management and warehouse management. When he met the Fetch Robotics team, which offers a fleet management software and move goods from A to B in warehouses with no landmarks or any external devices, he could picture the increase of efficiency in warehouses right away.

Robots in Warehouses: How It Works

“We have quite a few use cases where autonomous guided vehicles or autonomous vehicles are used in warehouses in combination with EWM. For example, in the SAP warehouse in Walldorf,” says Hero. Hernández adds that orders are now geolocalized within the warehouse. By making use of the business intelligence provided by the SAP EWM, the robot goes straight to the next pick or the packing destination without any human intervention. Pickers can now be more efficient since they do not waste time on the transport after they have pulled an item from the shelf.

Solution and Cooperation Benefiting Both Parties

“We basically don’t know anything about the order in theory. Therefore, working with a company like SAP brings a lot of value for our end customer,” Hernández explains.

By getting insights from the SAP system and combining them with the Fetch technology, it makes orders and transportation completely transparent.

Making a technology work for tens of thousands of customers and warehouses is something a large company like SAP can offer. Besides that, Hero sees many more benefits of the partnership: “It’s always inspiring to work with startups because of their speed and the ideas they bring into large organizations.”

The Next Big Thing in Warehouses

Looking at warehouse management, Hero does not expect the “one big thing” that will change everything. In the next five to ten years, he sees the challenge with swarms of robots that need to be orchestrated. However, it’s also important to take a closer look at the of buildings architecture: “With robots becoming more and more intelligent, they will include the complete warehouse system and organize themselves.”

Hernández offers yet another perspective: “For me it’s to remove those dull tasks that nobody wants to do. Nobody wants to push a cart in a warehouse, humans are much better at many other things.” His vision is to keep up with human needs and remove tasks that do not need their intellect. “Maybe removing the risk of driving a fork lift and instead let a robot take care of that.“ Having robots do the full autonomous picking process is something we will see in the near future, as the startup is already working on it.

RK Logistics, Fetch Robotics and SAP – Robots are The Future.

Learn more about SAP Extended Warehouse Management.

SAP IoT Startup Accelerator: Make your IoT vision come true!
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This story originally appeared on Business Trends on the SAP Community.

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