Early November of last year, SAP released as part of their Supply Chain Execution Solution in SAP SCM the newly combined and integrated 9.2 releases of SAP Transportation Management, SAP Event Management and SAP Extended Warehouse Management. Besides major functional improvements in regards of usability, processing, planning and certainly again more depth business logic in regards of mode of transport, also a major infrastructure advancement has been achieved.
It is part of SAP's strategy to bring all SAP Business Suite solutions onto their SAP HANA platform. There is certainly always a discussion about the opportunity for accelerated transactional processing kicking in. I personally though would highlight the great opportunities coming along with HANA Live content across all applications, that comes quietly with this same release also into the logistics space. The simplicity of Fiori, (please read more here: SAP Fiori) SAP's new User Experience approach for their products, is adding a totally different spin to users' every day work, in terms of personalization and, i think, productivity. Besides the analytical capabilities and the improved visibility on issues (you may focus on before you get started working on details) one aspect is really new:
In times of drastically increasing order volumes, faster response times and order to cash cycles, especially in logistics, the users had been overwhelmed with endless work lists, data queries and alerts in transactional oriented applications. SAP Fiori introduces now to all products entry points, high lighting first aggregated, easy to consume information on the most important KPIs of a user's role. That brings in opportunities to handle this as an alert mechanism, but also, allows you to monitor daily or monthly budgets, business shares, total number of freight orders being unresponded to, the number of trucks sitting at your parking lot in order to get loaded etc. As you may access this information via your desktop workplace or simply a mobile device, you are enabled to deal with issues, stay informed while chasing business somewhere else or simple being challenged in a meeting where you might have to report some of those details. As the Supply Chain Solution from SAP combines not only Logistics and Order Fulfillment, but also Integrated Business Planning (IBP), Supply Chain Monitoring and Demand-Driven Supply Network please take a look at another example around SAP Smart Business for Inventory Management, which is a great example on how interactive and dynamic solutions can be assembled to meet real time business needs. (please see a short movie here: SAP Smart Business for Inventory Management).
Besides SAP HANA Live becoming part of the integrated solution approach for SAP's Business Suite, SAP Fiori as the new design approach is entering the solutions' user experience approach all over the place. Sure, worklists are still the entry point for individual transactions. The new SAP TM Carrier Collaboration Portal is a great example, how the design approach is changing already here the landing page for your carriers. The example above is a screenshot from an ipad, with no specific security applications (meaning challenges for your business partners to collaborate with you), other than Netweaver's secure options to access backend applications. We see the SAP GUI5 based Carrier Collaboration Portal being very successfully in implementations already.
Besides these more fundamental achievements at a more foundational level, all three products show great improvements from an integration and from a functional level once again.
News in SAP TM 9.2..
..show major improvements in the interactive planning, specifically the planning cockpit with brand-new Gantt-Chart based, graphical planning features, that have been based on very close customer engagements with SAP's product organization. Fleet-based operations are addressed in a very detailed and interactive way. Zoom capabilities in the graphics, either to be shown in full screen mode or simply as part of a personalized planning cockpit, will give you insights and the ability to actively plan considering down-times, available/utilized capacity, all current activities, event and status details (that might certainly leverage your SAP Event Management (EM 9.2) reports from carriers or truck drivers), to be arranged in single or dual views. TM supports certainly drag and drop features, offers hyperlink capabilities (!) and contextual actions. As you may adjust/configure colors, patterns, select objects to be viewed in one layout - compared to another, assemble screens in hierarchies, that whole design is offering interactivity a totally different level. The ability to assemble your cockpit layout with all, tables, gatt charts and maps, what is also helping a lot, that selecting e.g. elements in the gantt chart, will dynamically highlight the same items in the map etc. (Please see below an example from SAP on one possible cockpit layout)
Planning interactively allows now not only assigning consignments/freight units to trucks or trailers, but you can now interactively plan drivers as well. That is a major step forward for private fleet operating companies.
Further news in SAP TM 9.2 are provided in the load planning capabilities (Vehicle Space Optimization), which supports planning rules and definitions for different resource types, stacking capabilities, axle weights. The quality of loading sequence etc can be managed as well directly in the planning cockpit as an integrated option - no interfaces to external tools required, all based on the same master data. Load planning in an integrated solution.. isn't that great ;-)
Container Unit planning allows also planning and routing (leveraging the planning proposal planning, for door to door and multi-modal containers) of containers, before actually assigning them to final bookings and pre- and on-carriages. Combined with the load-optimizer capabilities this is truly providing the opportunity to handle ocean shipping at a different level, even if you are collaborating successfully today with an outsourcing partner on ocean export or customs agents.
Now, considering your carrier's constraints is also simpler, as you can now upload and download your carriers' allocations/equipment availability. (Please read also Pankaj's blog on our blog-site, on how we realized a more asset focused approach, with improved carrier collaboration for allocations at Holcim North America).
For Strategic Freight Contract Procurement and Selling, SAP has defined a new level of collaboration when it comes to Shipper-Carrier communication on contract bids. As not only the end to end life cycle of shippers-to carrier contract procurement has been covered (and enhanced now in SAP TM 9.2), now the reverse side, from the carriers' perspective is also addressed in the solution, by simply combining the Shipper's bid towards the carriers perspective. Carriers can integrate that information and handle their internal evaluation and response proposal completely in SAP TM Strategic Freight Management (Selling side), which is simply spoken resulting, if awarded in a new Forwarding Freight Agreement. This is truly a unique positioning and simplification for end to end Supply and Logistics Networks in a true sense. Processing though is only triggered by RFQ processes at a contract level, but also as an incident in SAP CRM based on a Sales activity on the Carrier/Forwarder side. Strategic Freight Selling is now as well getting stronger and stronger and the solution footprint in the Logistics Service Provider Industry segment is offering unique key benefits.
SAP Extended Warehouse Management Release 9.2...
.. gives you the option of mapping your entire warehouse complex in detail in the system, down to storage bin level. Latest release of EWM 9.2 supports seamless integration in ERP production process and simplified EWM / ERP communication. Integration aspects, i would prefer to say integrated processing of deliveries and transportation and shipping planning will also benefit dramatically from this new release.
In addition, Material Flow System is enhanced to support multi-depth storage bin and the corresponding put away/stock removal strategies are available. Ramp up is open. For customers considering SAP Transportation Management, i would definitely advise to apply ramp up for SAP TM 9.2.
References: SAP Transportation Management (SAP TM 9.2), SAP Event Management (SAP EM 9.2), SAP SCM, SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM 9.2)