With the announcement of SAP Warehouse Robotics for EWM, SAP is also entering the fleet manager market for mobile and automated / autonomous robots. Customers naturally ask themselves what advantages this add-on has over existing Fleet Managers and whether it is worth switching to it. We compare our Flexus AGV Hub with SAP EWM Warehouse Robotics and show you where the strengths of each system lie.
Architecture of the Flexus AGV Hub vs. SAP EWM Warehouse Robotics
Both systems are installed on SAP’s Business Technology Platform (BTP) and connected to the SAP backend system via a so-called Cloud Connector. The advantage lies in the modern programming and runtime environment as well as the possibility to easily dock external systems such as AGV manufacturers.
Warehouse Robotics from SAP requires another so-called “edge device”, i.e. a small computer with software on the vehicle. This allows it to cache jobs within certain limits so that it can continue processing them even if the WLAN connection is interrupted. In contrast, the Flexus AGV Hub, as a purely online solution, always works in real time, but does not require any additional hardware.
Suitable AGVs can be connected to both systems via VDA5050, the standard interface of the VDA (German Association of the Automotive Industry) / VDMA (German Engineering Federation) without additional programming. In addition, the Flexus AGV Hub already offers a ready-made Vendor Connector for MiR and in Q2/2023 one for Agilox. For Warehouse Robotics by SAP, the connection of MiR is planned so far, but without a concrete completion date.
Driving orders of the Flexus AGV hub vs. SAP EWM Warehouse Robotics
One of the main tasks of both systems is to distribute emerging driving jobs among the AGVs. These can arise from various sources. While with SAP Warehouse Robotics only EWM warehouse tasks can be passed on to the mobile robots, the Flexus AGV Hub in combination with the FlexGuide transport gidance system can additionally process WM transport orders, PP confirmations and MM material documents and convert them into transport orders. In addition, it is possible to create manual driving jobs via an API for third-party systems or SAP Fiori apps.
When it comes to error handling, both systems can work with EWM exception codes if storage tasks cannot be acknowledged, whether because the material was not found or the storage bin is full. In addition, the Flexus AGV Hub has the ability to also set independent failure reasons, which in turn can trigger other follow-up actions such as an email. Both systems are capable of handling multi-level driving orders, although the RouteOptimizer makes it easier for the end user to maintain the graphic layout.
Flexus AGV Hub control centre vs. SAP EWM Warehouse Robotics
With a table-based Fiori control centre, both systems offer the possibility to monitor the ongoing operation. This shows the status of all transport orders and vehicles. In an emergency, the user can also send direct commands to a vehicle via Instant Actions in the Flexus AGV Hub. In addition, a 2D control centre is offered as a Fiori app that displays the live coordinates of all vehicles on the map.
A major advantage in connection with the FlexGuide transport guidance system is the dynamic optimisation of all transport orders according to various criteria. Both distance, waiting time and due date are taken into account to ensure that all orders are processed as efficiently as possible. A control centre employee also has the option of prioritising individual driving jobs manually or assigning them directly to a vehicle. Last but not least, the FlexGuide forms double plays whenever it makes sense to minimise the empty run even further.
Further information on both systems
The Flexus AGV Hub offers a simulation of scenarios with which one can simulate the processing as well as the traffic management with predefined transport order data. This allows a statement to be made about how many vehicles are needed for a typical scenario, the utilisation of all vehicles and the proportion of punctual driving jobs.
Also during live operation, the simulation could be used to try out how potential changes to the weighting parameters of the optimisation algorithms affect them before they are adjusted in the productive system. Speaking of KPI: here, the Flexus AGV Hub already offers a variety of KPI out of the box, which have so far only been announced in Warehouse Robotics.
When it comes to battery management, both systems have a simple concept with threshold values of the state of charge that, when fallen below, send the vehicle to the charging station until it reaches an upper threshold value again. In 2023, a dynamic, intelligent battery management system is planned in the Flexus AGV hub, which, depending on the current order load and the total battery level of the fleet, decides whether vehicles are to be charged early in order to be available when the order load is higher.
SAP’s announcement has reached the fleet manager market without shaking it. The Flexus AGV hub is a good example of the advantages it has over Warehouse Robotics. At the same time, this announcement also invigorates the market, because competition invigorates business and makes it even more important to expand features and respond to customer demands.
Author – Christian Zerbes
Head of Transport Systems
In the course of his work at Flexus, he successfully implements projects in the field of Transport Systems. Projects range from the implementation of a simple forklift call system to the fully dynamic control of a wide variety of resources, such as tugger trains, forklifts or driverless transport systems.