German software vendor SAP SE has added features to its transportation management system (TMS) and warehouse management system (WMS) platforms that support easier connections to cloud-based data and the Internet of Things (IOT).
By enhancing the platforms' connections to smart devices and digital inputs, the changes provide improved visibility across the supply chain, allowing users to trace products from end to end, through multiple process steps and locations, SAP said yesterday when it announced the digital expansion.
Users can run the TMS and WMS products in their own IT environments, but embedding the software in SAP's enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite—called S/4Hana—will deliver the greatest efficiency improvements, the company says. Running on an ERP platform, the TMS and WMS both access data from a single, cloud-based source, eliminating data replication and reducing delays in accessing information, according to SAP.
"The difference may be only a few minutes, but if you're trying to make deliveries within one hour, those can be very high value minutes," Hans Thalbauer, SAP's senior vice president for Digital Supply Chain and Internet of Things, said in an interview. "We are bringing the transportation and the warehouse management processes as close together as possible to allow companies to generate speed in the supply chain and support very short delivery times."
Updates to the TMS product allow users to improve freight scheduling by optimizing scheduling processes with new parameters such as flexible stop durations, the company said.
Changes to the WMS support the smaller, more frequent shipments seen in e-commerce fulfillment by providing improved analytics that let managers track variables such as outbound delivery items, service level analysis, and warehouse capacity usage, according to SAP. Both platforms also have streamlined connections to SAP's IOT platform, known as Leonardo.
Also on Monday, SAP announced additional capabilities for its Integrated Business Planning suite, a cloud-based solution for sales and operations planning, demand sensing and forecasting, inventory and supply optimization, and exception-driven response management. The platform uses SAP's business collaboration network, known as Ariba, to allow users to plan supply chain strategies with external business partners as well as internal divisions.
"Customer expectations for supply chain planning solutions are rapidly changing, and companies increasingly require extended collaborative planning that includes entities beyond their own enterprise," Thalbauer said in a statement. "Our integrated planning solution uses SAP's collaborative supplier network to enable our customers to integrate and collaborate directly with their suppliers during the planning process and advance on the planning maturity curve."