The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance in selecting an approach for use in implementing an SAP Data Collection Solution in industrial environments. Although some technical details are presented in support of the conclusions, intricate details of each approach are not the focus of this paper. It is not the objective of this paper to position any one approach as being the single best solution; rather the reader is provided with information for understanding why one approach might be a better fit for a given situation.
All of the technologies discussed in this paper are solutions created and maintained by SAP Labs, and are capable of creating real-time solutions for mobile devices in an SAP environment. Typical SAP host environments are SAP ERP with WM, decentralized WM and TRM, or SCM with EWM. The focus is primarily on three approaches, SAP Console, ITSMobile and Mobile Web Dynpro. This paper does not explicitly address middleware solutions or SAP NetWeaver Mobile (formerly Mobile Infrastructure). However, in the summary section, it does offer insight into why such solutions become a viable option.
Throughout the last 25 years, the use of industrial mobile terminals in warehouse environments has become one of the most popular methods of increasing efficiency and eliminating errors. In general, mobile solutions can be defined and categorized by many characteristics, however, for the purposes of this paper we separate them into two categories: real-time and occasionally connected. The approaches discussed here are all real-time solutions and therefore are appropriate for industrial, mission-critical applications operating in high availability environments.
Currently there are four primary approaches for implementing an SAP data collection system. The four approaches are SAP Console, Web SAP Console, ITSMobile and Mobile Web Dynpro. Each solution was introduced for different reasons over the past 8 years, has evolved over time and provides organizations with a wide range of options. Note that moving forward, the Web SAP Console approach is no longer discussed as a viable solution due to its limited product roadmap and the emergence (and preference) of using ITSMobile.
In general, SAP Console and ITSMobile share a similar implementation model, while Mobile Web Dynpro represents a very different approach for developing mobile applications. Each technology has specific advantages and limitations, which should influence the decision making process when evaluating a data collection solution. Before examining the unique characteristics of each approach, we present a brief background of the technologies to better understand how each solution works in practice.