Understand SAP EWM

Pick & Pass

Note: This post belongs to the blog-series ‘Understand SAP EWM’. The purpose of these series of blog-posts is to explain the concepts of the core features of SAP EWM in a simple way. We want to focus on the basic understanding rather than the smallest details.

As usual, we start with an example from the real world. You might remember one blog article where we have been talking about the Sunday afternoon dinner with the whole family. Imagine the family (and so the table) a little bit bigger now and different kind of dishes placed all over the table. Everybody wants his/her plate to be filled with samples from all those dishes but if everybody fills the plate by himself/herself. It will be a chaotic having everybody running around the table.

Usually we avoid this chaos intuitively just by giving the plate (or whatever you are using to place your food on) to the person who is sitting in front of the pot with the respective dishes. This person will put some food on your plate and handover to another person sitting in front of another dish. At the end your plate has been filled by different family members sitting in different areas of the table without anybody having to walk around the whole table.

This is what we call ‘Pick & Pass’ in real world. You can probably imagine similar scenarios in your canteen or in big restaurant kitchens (I also remember times where it has been like this in McDonalds but last time I visited the big M it rather looked like consolidation of burgers, fries and drinks at the front desk).

OK – I think you see where we are looking at. So let’s jump into warehouse logistics now.
Imagine a large warehouse where you must pick lots of orders with small quantities of many different products. These products are stored in different areas of the warehouse. Those areas (which we will call ‘zones’ in the following minutes) can (or should) not be served by the same resource (e.g. because the distance is too long or in the different zones you have to use different equipment).

Now you have two options to execute the picking process:

  • Option 1: Pick from the different zones into different pick-HUs and consolidate those HUs at a work center in the packing or staging area
  • Option 2: First pick from one zone and then handover to the next zone (so basically consolidate into one pick HU during picking already). This is what we call ‘Pick & Pass’ in EWM

There are different factors/criteria to decide which way to go but this decision process should not be part of this video. We will rather concentrate on how the 2nd option works.
Assume in our example picking is done manually from a rack and the transfer between the different zones is enabled by a conveyor system. This is probably the most common approach whereas the transfer can also be done by a manual transport from the given end point to the next starting point.

Before we investigate the system setups, we will describe the main components which are needed to conduct a pick & pass process in EWM

First of all, we have two different kind of warehouse orders. ‘Normal’ warehouse orders for each zone having the warehouse tasks assigned to it:

‘Top’ warehouse orders which group together all ‘normal’ warehouse orders which have been created for the different zones:

A pick HU which has to pass from one zone to the next zone and one activity area for each zone, having a start and end point (both are normal storage bins) assigned to it and one additional higher-level activity area which can be used as a bracked to join the other ones:

System setup –
Let us have a quick look at the most important point regarding the system setup. At first, we must create activity areas and join them. We assume the you know what an activity area is and how it can be setup. The only thing you need to do (apart from setting up one AA for each zone) is to join and sort all those activity areas which should be part of one pick & pass run later:

In addition to this we have to assign storage bins as start & end points for each activity area:

Finally, we need a warehouse order creation rule which supports the pick & pass process (the only difference to the ‘normal’ WOCR is that this rule makes sure to create a Top warehouse orders to join the warehouse orders for the different zones. We assume a ‘system-driven’ approach here, which means that the sorting of the warehouse orders within the top warehouse order will be done according to the AA sequence defined above.

Later during processing, only one of the sub warehouse orders belonging to a top warehouse order will be in active status at a time:

The picking process itself from operator perspective is not different from picking non-joined warehouse orders. The only difference is the screen to handover to the next zone which will be displayed once all warehouse tasks for a given sub warehouse order have been completed:

Physically this bin can either be a bin from which somebody manually picks up the HUs to transfer them to the next zone, or it is simply a conveyor to which the operator pushes the pick HU. The conveyor (respectively the MFS component of the solution – e.g. EWM MFS) will make use of the destination data (which is the start point of the AA which comes next in the sequence) to communicate to the PLC level to route the HU through the conveyer system.
This process continues until all sub warehouse orders are completely picked and the pick HU is routed to the putaway bin of the next step in the given storage process (e.g. packing work center or staging area):

That’s it!
We hope that helps especially the beginners among you to understand the concept. For the experts please excuse me not to dig into all details and configuration options as the communication of those things is not the objective of this video and can be taken from SAP books or customizing documentation, if needed. 

Hope to see you bag for the next article!

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