Friday, 29 May 2015

SAP and ERP Web interfaces - How to make them work for you!

As ERP systems mature and migrate away from old "Green Screen" or Terminal Emulation (TE) methods of connecting to the data systems, several challenges have arisen, particularly for Mobile devices.

Many of our customers have stuck doggedly with TE, because, well "it just works" and any change is seen as a distraction from the real business of making and shipping products.

But slowly and surely ERP systems like SAP are temping managers and office workers into using Web Application screens, where the display is more that just green text, but has colour, pictures and buttons can offer a more immersive on screen environment like Windows.  However the last bastion of TE is the manufacturing and logistics environment, where workers often know the workflow so well, they only need to glance at the screen for updates and confirmation.

So what the big deal?  They should be able to run the same screens as the guys in the office, after all mobile computers all all the same, right?

Wrong!  Mobile devices are often much lower power devices, to save weight, maximise battery life and  keep costs down.  Plus they are all WiFi driven, so any data is transmitted over radio and competes with all the other wireless data hungry devices in the modern business.  Now with TE it did not matter, as very little actual data was sent or received, just the actual data text really, but Web based HTML screens are just Web pages and the fancy text, pictures, buttons and graphics just eat up bandwidth so the data and screen refresh is slow, slow, slow.

On fork truck terminals like DLoG, it can be even worse, as the large screen can be packed with even more complex screens.

Fortunately a solution is now available, WaveLink Velocity is an Industrial web browser, that means its like Internet Explorer but without all to bad stuff and much lighter and secure, but linked to a local proxy server that manages all the web traffic, maintains the connection to the web host application and reduces the traffic between the web host and the server.

The real beauty is that the server can handle multiple client devices at the same time, so that each client is getting an updated web screen that has only changed data refreshed and the remote web host is only having the provide the minimum amount of data to the Velocity server, so the hosting load on the ERP web server is greatly reduced too.  Win Win!

No changes are required to the web host and the Velocity automatically "learns" what to store and what changes for each screen.  In reality ERP web screens are not very dynamic, so users very quickly see the improvements and much faster server response.

An added bonus is that the client to web host is "kept alive" by the Velocity server, so that a user who is logged on to a web session via Velocity is kept connected even if the device is powered off (to save battery) or temporarily loses WiFi.  Normally a device losing power or network connection would result in a session disconnection with the ERP, requiring a new log on and a loss of the transaction in progress.

Velocity is simple to deploy, requires little or no configuration and can produce major benefits for the business. 
Speak to an expert now on 01200 441977 or email

Written by David Parkinson - partner at Dash Computer Products, who specialises in barcode driven WMS, hand held and fork truck mounted computers and data capture solutions.

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