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4 August 2023

Overview of RFID with S/4HANA EWM

by Vasilii Kharitonov

This article provides an overview of the integration of RFID technology with S/4HANA EWM (Extended Warehouse Management). We will explore the typical requirements or business benefits, the architecture of RFID, its standard support and processes, and also discuss some of the equipment involved.

Typical requirements for RFID in Warehouse Management

Printing and Application of RFID tags

In this scenario, RFID labels or tags are primarily used for printing and label application within the EWM system. The tags are subsequently utilized in later stages, such as in customer systems or Point of Sale systems.

The S/4HANA EWM requirements here include:

Additional Data Provision for RF Terminals

This approach enables FLT (Fork Lift Truck) drivers to operate in a “hands-free” manner. They don’t need to manually scan bin or HU (Handling Unit) barcodes, as RFID readers automatically perform these tasks based on proximity. This method enhances FLT driver safety and efficiency, though its benefits may be somewhat limited from my perspective.

The S/4HANA EWM requirements in this context are:

Handling Goods Without RF Terminals

To reduce the investment in RF terminals and further enhance FLT driver efficiency, some processes, such as loading, can be managed without RF terminals. In these cases, FLT drivers operate without RF terminals, and the system autonomously records movements in the background.

This method is the only one supported by standard SAP (more details on this later). It typically involves RFID tags on pallets and resources (like forklift trucks), with stationary scanners at source/destination locations (such as RFID gates before loading docks). For error handling, you can introduce indicator lights to visually confirm successful movements.

The requirements for S/4HANA EWM in this scenario include:

Typical Solutions for RFID Requirements in S/4HANA EWM

Implementing SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure (SAP AII)

In the standard SAP environment, the primary supported method for working with RFID is through the SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure (SAP AII). This is technically a distinct system from SAP S/4HANA and offers capabilities for connecting RFID-specific equipment like RFID scanners and printers. It also provides functionality for creating RFID identifiers and decoding RFID tags.

Creating RFID Identifications (EPC, SSCC)

To utilize standard functionality for creating identifiers like EPC (Electronic Product Code) and SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code), integration with SAP AII is essential. EPC, a popular data format in RFID processes, is developed by GS1 — the organization also known for SSCC. Although there’s no direct SAP standard support for creating EPC/TDS RFID identifiers outside of SAP AII, the open format allows for custom implementation in ABAP or other languages using the relevant specifications.

After generating the necessary identifications, you can employ SAP’s standard data structures for RFID (refer to table /SCWM/EPC and the processing logic from package /SCWM/RFID). As of 2022, this support extends to Handling Units, Products, and Resources.

Printing RFID labels

SAP AII can also facilitate the printing of RFID labels and integration with RFID printers. If direct printing from SAP S/4HANA is desired without SAP AII, custom development tailored to specific printers is required. For instance, Zebra printers can accept RFID content through ZPL (Zebra Programming Language), and SAP can incorporate ZPL code into its smartforms. An example of integration with Zebra R110Xi4 RFID Printer.

RFID Data Input for RF Screens

This scenario involves connecting RFID scanners to RF terminals to automate input, bypassing the need for barcode scanners. It requires both hardware support (that might not be trivial) and custom logic for decoding EPC binary strings into recognizable identifiers.

A practical approach is to create a new barcode specification and implement the corresponding BAdI for decoding and identifying connected SSCC and/or other identifiers. Ensure that the intended screens support composite barcode input and that incorrect or duplicate inputs are processed efficiently.

Supporting RFID Goods Handling without RF Terminals

This requirement is standardly supported by SAP AII. Therefore, implementing and integrating SAP AII with SAP S/4HANA is recommended for addressing this need.

As of 2022, SAP supports the following processes:

Verified systems

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