A global market leader is setting the course for its logistics IT: Belimo Automation AG is rolling out SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM) as a global platform to all logistics locations with the SAP engineers at IGZ. A dedicated template serves as the basis, which was used for the first time in the new service and logistics center in Großröhrsdorf near Dresden. The template takes into account the functional requirements of other locations so that it can be successively rolled out internationally together with IGZ and independently. A great success: the SAP EWM rollouts are running exactly to the month according to the original schedule. On top of this, another location was even able to go live.
Founded in Switzerland in 1975, Belimo employs around 2,200 people worldwide and generated sales of around 847 million Swiss francs in 2022. Its product range includes products that can be found in almost every large building: Control valves, damper actuators, sensors and meters in the field of electric actuator solutions for heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology.
The company name itself is an acronym made up of the three terms "consulting", "supply" and "installation". The Swiss company is a technology leader in its field and a global market leader that consistently focuses on market and customer needs. This is reflected, among other things, in the Service and Logistics Center near Dresden, which opened in 2019. Here, customer-specific adaptations to the products are also built in small batches in order to be able to serve customers in Germany as well as in Northern and Eastern Europe with high delivery quality and readiness.
In conjunction with a variety of legacy systems, Belimo used the SAP ECC enterprise resource planning system and the integrated Warehouse Management (SAP WM), for which, according to SAP, the functionally limited "Stock Room Management" variant will be available from 2027. A complex system landscape that needed to be adapted to new requirements and support guaranteed in the long term. This was becoming increasingly difficult, which is why the company based in Hinwil, east of Zurich, asked itself which successor solution should be chosen for inventory management and material flow control - ideally homogeneously across all logistics locations. The migration to SAP S/4HANA, the new ERP software solution from SAP, was the obvious choice for replacing SAP ECC. However, SAP WM also lacked development and expansion options in many areas, which resulted in functional restrictions, processes in need of optimization and losses of time and capital. Due to the warehouse management system integrated and used in the old ERP system, the question of replacing it inevitably arose.
SAP EWM template for international roll-out
The aim was to set the course for the future of logistics IT in the long term. As such an intervention represents "open-heart surgery" for supply and logistics, Belimo needed a reliable partner with extensive experience of template projects and the associated roll-outs.
IGZ presented itself with experience from a large number of successful SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM)projects as well as a methodical, phased project approach for such challenges. Stefan Keller, Head of Logistics/Customization Excellence at Belimo, says: "This experience and methodology gave us confidence. Our aim was to create a valid basis for decision-making for the migration of the warehouse logistics IT. We wanted to stay as close as possible to the SAP standard, reduce enhancements and 'special features' in logistics during an IT transformation or, at best, replace them completely with standards. All of this should lead to a simplified, homogenized and significantly more manageable system landscape."
Belimo therefore worked with IGZ to develop a template and migration concept using a detailed deployment analysis, which included a global SAP EWM roadmap, including a rollout schedule. SAP EWM was to be deployed quickly at additional logistics locations worldwide with only minimal, location-specific enhancements. This was the only way to achieve the tightly scheduled roll-out.
Pilot project and rapid roll-outs
In order to decouple the equally ambitious SAP ERP implementation plans from SAP EWM in terms of time, Belimo decided to pilot SAP EWM with the existing SAP ECC before the SAP S/4HANA project start. The Großröhrsdorf site near Dresden was the ideal pilot site. Belimo bought a suitable property here and converted it into a service and logistics center in record time.
SAP EWM had to go live here in January 2021 in order to be able to maintain the forecast volume growth in customized assembled products. The Service and Logistics Center was included in the network of assembly centers for this purpose. There was therefore no alternative for IGZ but to go live at the new Saxon site on schedule after a project duration of only around 15 months. Another challenge was to specify and set up SAP EWM as an extensive template: On the one hand, all functions for the make-to-order processes of the pilot site had to be implemented and, at the same time, the manual process flows for the other international sites had to be taken into account.
Intuitive production of versatile kits
In addition to series-produced products, Belimo also offers a large number of customized make-to-order and design-to-order products. Despite a manageable range of articles, a large number of variants had to be mapped in SAP EWM, also with regard to configuration options that are not yet offered today.
The SAP EWM template created offers precisely this flexibility with the jointly designed customization process based on ergonomic SAPUI5 dialogs, dashboards and the IGZ control station "Smart Logistics Cockpit". It also ensures that logistics employees can navigate familiar processes in the SAP EWM front end and that the kit variants remain "hidden" from their view.
The template is SAP S/4HANA-ready and can be connected via standard interfaces. The big advantage: the SAP EWM roll-outs for other locations run efficiently and at high speed thanks to the standardized template. The roll-out plan shows just how quickly: the global roll-outs planned in the SAP EWM roadmap around four years ago are running "on track" and on schedule to the month. SAP EWM was even rolled out at an additional location in Melbourne (Australia) within this time. SAP EWM has also gone live in the Asian region in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai.
IGZ is currently working on the roll-out at its headquarters in Hinwil. This marks the start of the expansion of the template to include SAP MFS (Material Flow System) so that automated warehouse technology can be connected directly. As SAP EWM and SAP MFS follow separate streams in the roll-out plan, IGZ will temporarily connect the existing proprietary warehouse control computers to SAP EWM as a "black box" until they are replaced by SAP EWM/MFS in accordance with the roll-out plan.
The integration of automated warehouse technology is then to follow at other locations, such as Danbury in the USA, the second largest location within Belimo Logistics after Hinwil. IGZ continues to support Belimo IT with specialized know-how during these international roll-outs, but IT is now also independent without external support and for many expansions and roll-outs.
Lean system landscape
Julian Bauer, deputy IGZ division manager for SAP warehousing projects, emphasizes: "The roadmap we drew up together at the beginning was in fact the start of a success story that has now seen six roll-outs and a lively and successful project partnership." With the help of IGZ, a comprehensive, future-proof IT platform was created in SAP EWM that also allows for changes in the supply chain. The number of previously necessary subsystems, system breaks and therefore complexity have been significantly reduced. Belimo is now operating in a much leaner, clearer system landscape.
Stefan Keller summarizes: "We have achieved our goal: a future-proof, expandable supply chain in SAP EWM that allows us transparency, roll-out capability, flexibility in the business processes and independent support. Even during the pandemic phase with lockdowns and massive travel restrictions, we were able to implement the roll-outs on schedule. We are proud of the six productive SAP EWM locations to date."
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