Real-Time Locating System (RTLS) Applicability for ERP Integration : Guidelines for Applicability and Barriers and Enablers for RTLS and ERP Integration
Abstract: Purpose. Real-time Locating Systems (RTLS) are used to identify and locate physical assets in real-time. Essentially, the aim of RTLS is to increase process visibility and thus provide accurate process data concerning for example, lead times, cycle times and inventory control. Today, process visibility is one of the most critical aspects for manufacturing companies in their quest for higher quality and shorter lead times. Since the introduction of Industry 4.0, RTLS has received an upswing in attention in the literature. However, despite the technical advances, enterprises are struggling to fully comprehend the entire impact of RTLS. Further, when integrating RTLS and other IT systems, such as the ERP, business operations can be carried out based on real-time information, providing more value than a standalone RTLS. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is the core IT system for enterprises. The ERP is in turn divided into several modules: Manufacturing, Warehouse, Human resources, Sales & Distribution, and Finance & Accounting. Evaluating the applicability for each module will provide a holistic view on RTLS and ERP integration that has a wider perspective than previous studies on the topic. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to examine and evaluate the applicability of integrating RTLS with the various ERP modules and present a set of guidelines for RTLS and ERP integration. The guidelines will be created based on the following research questions. RQ1: How can the various ERP modules utilize RTLS data? RQ2: What barriers and enablers are there when integrating RTLS and ERP? Research method. An extensive literature review and interviews with industry experts were conducted. Thematic analysis and thematic narrative analysis were applied to extract relevant information form the literature review and industry expert interviews. Thematic synthesis was applied to synthesize the information received from the result of the thematic analysis and thematic narrative analysis, thence answer the research questions, and create the guidelines. Findings. Applicability was found for all ERP modules and the main barriers identified was lack of mature processes, knowledge, and cost. The guidelines created in the study included five main steps. 1) organizational enablers, 2) IT structure enablers, 3) ERP module applicability, 4) knowledge and understanding, and 5) business case generation. The guidelines were presented in text and as a picture. Contributions. This study has contributed to research by expanding the perspective on RTLS and ERP integration further than previous studies on the topic. The study showed that all ERP modules can utilize the RTLS data to provide value for that particular module. This study contributes to industry by providing guidelines that can be utilized by managers and decision makers in their process of evaluating RTLS implementation Managers and decision makers can use these guidelines to create a fundamental understanding of how RTLS can create value for all ERP modules. This knowledge is a key to create profitable business cases. The guidelines will therefore facilitate enterprises to overcome the initial knowledge barriers and thus, contribute to the acceleration of the RTLS expansion within the industry.
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