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Former Member

NOTE: This post has also been posted on linkedin and on, but is cross posted here to reach a wider audience.

Hot on the back of a successful go live on SAP Transportation Management 9.0, I thought that I would through this post endeavour to showcase some of the great new functionality delivered by TM 9.0 that we, at Linfox, are using. To be more specific I will touch on:

  • Trailer Documents – this is an object that is part of the TOR object family,
  • Hierarchical display of planning objects in the planning cockpit,
  • On the fly freight order scheduling.

To approach these topics I will employ a concrete use case – as depicted below.

We have a three stage journey A –> B –> C –> D. Due to restrictions, road trains can only operate between stage B -> C. We therefore ferry trailers to what we call a dog site (destination B) where we essentially couple/uncouple trailers. Once we reach destination C, we once again have to revert to a less than 3 trailer configuration.

You may have heard the expression road train – which is a configuration made up of a prime mover (or truck / tractor as it’s called in some countries) and at least three trailers. As far as I know, Australia is the only country in the world where such configurations exist.

So here is the scenario:

  1. A Configuration 1 made of a prime mover and two trailers (one red, one green) will depart from A and make its way to B.
  2. A second configuration 2, also made up of a prime mover and two trailers (one orange, one blue), will also depart from A and make its way to B. The two said configurations could be leaving A together or separately.
  3. When the first and second configuration reach Destination B:
    3.1 Configuration 2 will uncouple Orange trailer, and Configuration 1 will couple that same trailer. Configuration 1 now has three trailers (red, green and orange)
    3.2 Configuration 2 may at this point drop its second blue trailer (to be picked up by another truck later) and return to A with two other trailers that were dropped by another returning truck.
  4. Configuration 1 will reach destination C, where it will uncouple a trailer (orange).
  5. Configuration 1 will continue its journey to the final destinations with trailers red and green
  6. The orange trailer will be coupled to another prime mover, local to site C and deliver it to its final destination.

The journey of configuration 1 from A to D, including the addition of a third trailer for one stage, will all be captured in one Freight Order.

How do we do this in TM 9.0 ?

Well, we start with a trailer document. The trailer document allows you to start the process with the physical transportation unit – the trailer. In our case, vendors drop loads (of different shapes, sizes and weight) at one of our locations and  are shipped to  our customers. We consolidate these loads onto trailers and haul them to the customer locations – we do not have forwarding orders, at this stage of the process. In its simplest form the trailer document captures:

  • The trailer (the resource) that is loaded,
  • The source and destination locations and times,
  • The freight being hauled as well as the relevant business partner (shipper).You can therefore, from the trailer document plan loads for multiple customers,
  • The route that this trailer will use (default route functionality).

You can then from the trailer document cargo items, create forwarding orders to bill your customers.

Once all the trailers have been physically loaded and entered in TM, we can move to the planning cockpit and assign those trailers to the prime movers.

I can now touch on a second functionality which is the hierarchical display of objects in the planning cockpit (whilst we have done some enhancements in this area, standard TM is not dissimilar from what we have).

Here we have 3 trailer documents – which have been conveniently colour coded to represent those in our initial scenario.

  • The red and green trailers from configuration 1,
  • The orange trailer that will be temporarily coupled to configuration 1 for the duration of stage B –> C.

  The information that we see is: 

  • The trailer resource
  • —> The trailer document allocated to it
  • —–> The various stages of this trailer (logically sequenced)
  • ——> Not shown here but we also have the freight unit and the product

The planner, then simply needs to drag and drop the trailer document on a Prime Mover Resource. SAP, will then prompt the user to indicate the locations where this trailer is being coupled and uncoupled. The proposed locations are restricted to those that exist in the route of the trailer document.

Once the locations have been chosen / accepted, the associated stages show up as being planned.

Over in the allocated Prime mover / rigid hierarchy (custom hierarchy) we see that this drag and drop has resulted in the creation of a freight order, and the stages of the trailer document are now also assigned to the prime mover freight order.

The second trailer document (the red one) will also be dragged onto the newly created freight order, adding that trailer to the freight order too. Lastly, the planner, will drag the second stage of the third (orange) trailer onto the freight order, hence only assigning that stage of the trailer document to the freight order.

We can then save the freight order.

If we navigate to it, we will see that the first stage has two trailers assigned to it.

The second stage has three trailers assigned to it – we have our road train.

Lastly, I will touch on what I think is one of the coolest functionalities to be delivered – the ability to schedule the freight order, on the fly forward or backward.

Say our freight order was initially created with a start time of 7am. However due to unforeseen events the truck will only be able to leave at around 2pm. Int this case all you need to do, is go to the freight order, change the start time to 14:00.

And execute the scheduling of the freight order.

As the menu suggests, you can also amend the finish date of the freight order and schedule it backward.

This will update the times of my freight order as well as the trailer documents – as evidenced in the cockpit.

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