Wednesday Aug 21, 2013

Keste Blog Series: Delivering Extreme Business Value - Integrating Industrial Devices with Core Business Processes

By Sri Ayyeppen, CTO and Co-Founder, Keste

In the last blog, I discussed the overall structure and goals of Cloud Integration and the business drivers for integrating cloud and on-premise applications. The first in a series of real-world examples success stories, today we will discuss a success story that utilizes real cutting-edge technology. The post outlines a customer use case where they undertook warehouse management system modernization by integrating a robotic pick, pack & ship system with Oracle E-Business Suite via a cloud-based message broker, leveraging Oracle SOA Suite and Oracle Service Bus to accomplish the integration.

This customer—a large medical device manufacturer—was looking to modernize their warehouse management system to enable faster shipment and delivery.  They faced significant challenges in delivering accurate shipments with short lead times to meet their rigorous customer service demands. The customer operates multiple manufacturing and distribution centers in North America and Europe, and is committed to shipping orders the same day they are placed.

To deliver on this commitment, they implemented a robotic inventory system in their largest distribution facility. Kiva Systems® (wholly owned by provides a material handling system that takes the manual processes out of inventory picking and packing. Instead of personnel roaming a large warehouse, the robots bring the inventory to the pickers, just in time for the next order. To achieve operational efficiency and reduce the amount of personnel required, the customer decided to automate the complete process of fulfilling orders by integrating Kiva and Oracle E-Business Suite. (See an example of these amazing devices here.)

Keste was brought in to design and deliver the integration solution leveraging Oracle SOA stack. We first worked with their WMS architects to create a solid reference architecture establishing a foundation for future growth. Once the reference architecture was vetted with a proof of concept, we scaled the solution to the entire warehouse to multiple robots to deliver the expected business benefits.

To replace multiple legacy ERP systems, it was critical to integrate the Kiva system with their global E-Business Suite implementation The Kiva integration handles bidirectional communication via SOA Suite for inventory transactions, including Pick Release, Pick Confirm, Sub-inventory Transfer, Adjustments, Cycle Count, Container Creation, and LPN assignment.

Once a sales order has been entered into Oracle E-Business Suite and released via a BPEL process to the warehouse, the Kiva system receives the Order, prioritizes it based on order attributes, routes it based on inventory location and robot positions, and begins delivering inventory to the Picker (the actual person filling the order). The Picker scans the inventory, packs it into boxes, and repeats until the order is complete. The Picker never has to perform transactions in Oracle E-Business Suite. Once the Picker has scanned the completed order, all of the Kiva transactions are then automatically pushed back into E-Business Suite for inventory control.

The customer’s goals are to have orders shipped on the same day that the order is received—at the same time reduce costs through automation and fewer human touch points. Near real-time integration between Kiva and Oracle Order Entry/Shipping Execution is critical to achieving these goals. Eliminating the users’ need to perform redundant transactions in Oracle eBusiness Suite is also critical. The implementation of Oracle SOA Suite enabled them to achieve this. Orders are shipped on the same day and all Oracle EBS transactions are automated once a sales order is booked.

The SOA model was designed to enhance the agility and cost-effectiveness of their business operations. This has been accomplished by aligning the technology architecture with the business architecture. Establishing the SOA framework with Oracle SOA Suite enabled the customer to not only develop complex integrations, such as Kiva, but also integrate with newly acquired companies or cloud solutions, in an efficient, reproducible, and maintainable manner. Integrations with cloud platforms did not just stop with warehouse management systems but extended to shipment tracking, returns management with third party logistics platforms (3PL), thereby providing a superior customer experience - delivering accurate and fast shipments and quicker ways to return shipments as needed.

Like this customer, many companies are looking for cloud integration solutions to enhance and improve specific business functions or simplify IT environments. The challenge then becomes how to keep processes streamlined and eliminate duplicate data and efforts—and that's where a cloud – on-premise integration solutions can add value. If your organization is in a similar situation, consider the potential benefits of a cloud integration solution:

  • Faster time-to-market with integrated transactions and processes
  • Reduced complexity through standards-based (SOA) integration
  • Increased control through end-to-end cloud and on-premise visibility
  • Ensure real-time data synchronization between cloud and on-premise applications

In the next post, we'll share another real-world example of an integrated cloud based CRM solution that is helping another customer reap business benefits.

*customer name withheld by request

Sri Ayyeppen, CTO and Co-Founder, Keste

Sri Ayyeppen is chief technology officer (CTO) and co-founder of Keste, a leading worldwide Oracle solutions provider based in Dallas. As the CTO, he is responsible for leading teams delivering solutions with Oracle Applications, technology and infrastructure. His primary focus is on applications and business process integration through service-oriented architecture (SOA) technologies and highly available enterprise deployment with Engineered Systems and Oracle Cloud. Within this role, some of his key areas of responsibility include leading Enterprise Architecture team for Keste customers, driving principles and practices around creating best-in-class architecture leveraging present-day technology like enterprise software, business integration products and mobility.

Sri is a well-known industry expert and you can find him discussing IT on @SriAyyeppen and LinkedIn: SriAyyeppen

Previous Posts in the Series:

Keste Blog Series: Integrated Cloud Solutions - Bridging the Integration Divide across Cloud and On-Premise Applications


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