When considering an automatic pallet labelling solution, the first thought is rarely ‘how will I interface this with my current SAP system?”
While concern over which software and hardware is best to use (including printers, applying technology and cameras) is understandably high on the agenda, to get the best out of auto pallet labelling it is important to integrate any chosen solution fully with your SAP system.
With this in mind, here are four key benefits of using an end-to-end auto pallet labelling system:
Minimal risk of error
Full automation means there is no human transfer of data between systems required at any stage, removing the risk of error. When an order is released in SAP, the data required by the automation system is transferred automatically via an IDoc in preparation for goods receipt of each completed pallet. Each pallet or case can be labelled with a unique 2D matrix code, which allows the automation system to easily identify the relevant order for the pallet. Once identified, a pallet label can be produced using the order data received previously. After applying and validating the pallet label, the automation system can then automatically trigger the goods receipt back in SAP.
Improved error detection
At the point of goods receipt, the automation software can interface with SAP directly via a remote function call (RFC). This provides the system with an immediate response of success or failure, which can be used intelligently to automatically decide whether to release the pallet to the warehouse for putaway or send it down an error spur to a correction point.
Labelled pallets can be automatically goods receipted back in SAP, bonding the stock in real-time. The real-time posting of stock receipts ensures that items are immediately available for any follow-on activities, such as putaway into warehouse, or despatch directly from site. The real time receipt also aids traceability, as you can then easily trace in SAP when each pallet was finally wrapped.
An effective auto pallet labelling solution can share wrappers and pallet labelling across multiple lines, leading to faster through-put rates of pallets and greater efficiencies. With vastly reduced error rates and enhanced error detection, this potentially complex and intricate system becomes a viable approach to WM.
Often we find companies approach SAP integration almost as an afterthought, with the more glamorous hardware taking up most of their thoughts (and budget). However, it’s essential that specialist software and the practicalities of installation are evaluated alongside these considerations in order to maximise efficiency. Software that interacts with the SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, such as The Config Team’s ‘Live Label Link’, can be used to enhance the auto labelling process. Product, data and receipt validation within SAP negates the risk of incorrect product identification or poor quality barcoding.
In our experience, those companies that achieve the best results with auto pallet labelling formulate a clear strategy and undergo an initial consultation with an experienced SAP team. Managers are often surprised to find that our team has collaborated extensively with their chosen hardware manufacturers and installers previously. Such relationships obviously provide a huge advantage in installing a fully integrated solution on time and within budget.
As the demand for greater efficiency and product tracking from retailers increases, automation will become a critical tool for manufacturers. A fully automated system can deliver incredible results, even more so if it can be working at its full potential from Day One of Go-Live; this is absolutely achievable, but only if all parties are involved from the planning stage.
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