Enabling RF Handhelds in your SAP Warehouse


9/15/2020

by Jodi Abrams

RF DEVICES ARE A NECESSITY IN ANY WAREHOUSE, HERE WE WILL LOOK AT HOW TO GET STARTED.

Maybe you are new to SAP, or up until now have just been using scanners attached to laptops. The options for RF devices that are compatible with SAP continue to grow and evolve. From the devices themselves, to the way you connect to SAP, you have options to automate and streamline your warehouse while integrating with IM, WM or EWM.

WHAT DO I NEED TO CONNECT MY RF HANDHELD DEVICE TO SAP?

You will need a handheld device running an Android or Windows Mobile OS, enabling of ITS (Internet Transaction Server) Mobile which comes standard with SAP, a reliable network in your warehouse and the transaction codes for the standard SAP RF transactions.

ITS allows you to utilize applications developed in ABAP on mobile devices. It is an SAP technology that connects mobile devices to your backend SAP system.

HARDWARE CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CHOOSING AN RF HANDHELD FOR SAP

  1. Brand
  2. In terms of choosing your device, the main players in the hardware market are Zebra (Owns Motorola and Symbol technologies) and Honeywell (Owns LXE, Intermec and Dolphin).


  3. Scanner Type
  4. Laser performs better indoors, and imager is not as good indoors but performs better outdoors. Imager also works with 2D barcodes


  5. Range
  6. Consider how far you will be from your scanning target. Devices can range from 2-35+ ft.


  7. Speed
  8. Scanners can differ based on processor speed, memory and scanner accuracy which can slow down process


  9. Battery Life
  10. Battery life for the typical device is 8 hours. If scanners are used for multiple shifts, charging docks with multiple battery slots should be considered


  11. Screen Size
  12. If the user expects to toggle between different apps and webpages, it may be worth considering scanners with bigger screen sizes. (Ideal for managers and inventory analysts)


  13. Keypad Layout
  14. Availability of typical keyboard keys are recommended (Alphabet and numerical keys and function keys F1-F8). Note that standard SAP RF programs will make use of the function keys


SOFTWARE CONSIDERATIONS FOR YOUR RF HANDHELD WITH SAP

  1. Supported Browsers
  2. ITSMobile is designed to work on all browser types with use of customizable HTML templates for each mobile screen. It is recommended, however, to use industrial browser if available as these browsers extend features and functionalities that are not available on standard browsers. Some examples of industrial browsers are PocketBrowser, IBrowser and NaurTech Browser


  3. 3rd party browsers and management tools
  4. Tools such as Mobi and Velocity can be used to manage the access on the browser. This keeps it locked so the user can only access the functions that they need.

STANDARD SAP TRANSACTIONS AVAILABLE AS AN RF TCODE

  1. Goods receipt
  2. Goods issue
  3. Putaway
  4. Picking/replenishment
  5. Interleaving
  6. Packing and unpacking
  7. Inventory counting
  8. Loading and unloading
  9. Serial number capture
  10. Inquiries

While many standard transactions exist, it is often necessary to enhance or customize them to be more useful for the users. Often multiple transactions are combined into one to increase efficiency.

OTHER TRENDS WORTH WATCHING AND THINKING ABOUT

Device Mounts
With the explosion of device options from smartphones to tablets, companies are considering how they can use these and adapt them to be more rugged and hold up to warehouse use. Vehicle mounts, and Ram mounts are being deployed to hold the devices. Handheld pistol grip mounts can take a handheld computer and turn it into a scanner.

Wearables
A new trend developing is wearables. This can be a bracelet/watch, armband or even ring that could contain a scanner and pair with a device. With smart clothing becoming more popular, other options are sure to emerge.

3rd Party Connections
Some companies have rolled out 3rd party supported SAP connections. These connections have additional features and improvements from standard connections such as user profiles, KPIs, enhanced image handling, printer selection etc.


With technology ever-evolving, so are the handhelds and software to go along with them. SAP is also beginning to evolve with a new RF Framework being introduced with SAP EWM. It will also have real time communication with the EWM system. Consider your specific needs and budget and try to find the most up to date technology that meets those at the time of your project. Minimize development costs by using standard transactions when possible, but sometimes a small enhancement can save hundreds of ours over time on the warehouse floor.



With input from Raymond Chan and Walid Ahmed



Author

About the Author: Jodi Abrams

Jodi is an expert in SAP and eCommerce integration, and is Vice President of Applications for CONTAX.