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The Ins and Outs of extended Warehouse Management (part 2)

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

Koen Labie

In this second part of the Interview with Koen Labie, one of our principal consultants in S/4 Hana platform of SAP, we are going to be talking about the implementation of the system and how to overcome the obstacles along the way.

When setting up an eWM system, what are the large hurdles to overcome?

One of the largest hurdles is changing the mindset. The operators most of the time are in firefighting mode. They react to the needs of their warehouse and change locations to free up space, while placing items together that seemed to go together (wood planks with wood boards for example). When switching to an eWM system, the operators need to let the system take the lead, and that is usually the hardest part. It instills a feeling of redundancy with the warehouse responsible and operators, because the system has not proven its worth. When it shows the opposite outcome, eWM allows the employees to perform their tasks more efficiently and with less cumbersome administration.

What is the best approach to changing mindsets?

A magic bullet does not exist, unfortunately. There will always be some pushback from the warehouse employees. This feeling comes mostly from the fact that they feel their tasks will be taken over by an IT system and that they will be told what to do and how to do it. This is normal, but proves change management is an important part of the implementation’s success. We need to stress the system will actually enhance their jobs and allow them to rethink and improve the processes, as well as free up time for more important tasks than administration. The top-down support and buy-in is a must as they have the authority and will promote the system much better than any outside source can.

I have a small business that runs our warehouse ‘on paper’, what is the first step I need to take to move to an eWM system?

It is important to first think about the ideal warehouse and its processes. Answering the following questions can help you during this exercise:

  1. How will you move and store your items?

  2. Do you want to take everything out of the warehouse one part at a time, depending on the production need? Or do you take out a whole box, place it next to the production location (where the item is used) and at the end of the day/process, place the box back in the warehouse? How crucial is this space in your warehouse?

  3. How do you want to group your stock?

It is necessary to include warehouse employees when doing this exercise so they can also provide their inputs and insights.

Next step is to contact CANGURU so we can guide you during the implementation of an eWM system.

How long does it take, on average, to setup a new eWM system?

The set up depends on the business processes and their complexity. It is difficult to put a time frame on it but you can compare it to an ERP setup, roughly somewhere between six months and more than two years.

Any pitfalls that a business needs to consider?

The biggest pitfall is that every exception to the rule needs to be setup in the system.

For example; there are 20 types of storage locations, which in theory don’t differ much, but need to be setup separately in the system.

Therefore, setting up an eWM system is one of the best moments to rethink your warehouse processes and simplifying if possible. Another pitfall is, as already mentioned, changing the mindset of the employees. When starting the project, it is crucial to involve the warehouse employees as they have valuable information and are the ones who will benefit from the system in the end.

I have implemented the eWM system, but we have set up a new warehouse. How extendable is my existing eWM? Is it future proof?

Yes, of course! Once we have helped you set up your framework, you have the possibility to extend your system with new locations as Master Data. You might require some assistance from us to guide you through this set up but it is not as extensive as a whole new implementation. If you keep thinking about the next steps and proactively maintain the system, it is considered future proof.

Thanks for sitting with me and providing me with much more insight into eWM!

No problem, it was my pleasure!


Review the first blog about the Ins and Outs of eWM here

If you are interested in setting up your eWM or want to have information on our other solutions we provide. Contact us and let us help you.

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