Having kicked off the whole topic of load planning with TM 9.1 (see MKS 37 and some of the following posts) and the strong interest for this feature, the road to a best-in-class solution continues with TM 9.3 delivering a package builder.
Background: The main use case for the TM load planning function is to plan based on specified rules how to efficiently place pallets onto trucks or into containers fulfilling legal requirements like weight constraints (If I have just one sentence. Of course the function is by design very generic and can be used for multiple use cases deviating from just a pallet - truck/container scenario.). Great feature, but for an end-to-end planning process one key challenge exists: How to come to the pallets (you may call it also handling unit, transportation unit, main cargo item, ....)?!?!? Orders are usually placed based on products, which are during the real process packaged creating those pallets (HUs, TUs, main cargo items, ...).
For the complete process another challenge exists: Packaging is a warehouse process. The guys packing those products onto pallets know how to do it right (or the warehouse system). Lots of warehouse specific information can influence the result (just to mention one: pick sequence). Unfortunately, for the end-to-end process (lets say orders are created in ERP, transportation planning happens in SAP TM, and the deliveries are processed in SAP EWM) the pallet information is required long before the warehouse comes into play (would be good to know already when receiving the order to tell the customer to order a few more and the pallet will be full).
So the goal for the SAP TM 9.3 was clearly defined: Close the gap between orders based on products and the load planning happening for pallets and enable a package building function considering warehouse information. In addition, the feature should not be SAP TM specific, but designed for re-use with the SAP system landscape (for example direct usage in SAP EWM). Also important: It was not planned to reinvent the wheel. There are already packaging components available and also for example the product master data offers packaging specific definitions. As long as possible, the package builder shall reuse whatever exists. Main focus is the process integration part to enable a realistic product - package item hierarchy in SAP TM.
End-to-End SAP TM planning process
Solution Overview: The new package builder is an SCMB component (goal: enable re-use and consider warehouse information), which is integrated into SAP TM as part of the Freight Unit building.
Package Builder architecture
Package Building as integrated part of SAP TM planning
When being activated (and of course pre-requisites are fulfilled), the function enriches the Freight Units created by the SAP TM FUB in the following way:
As you can see from the example, the package builder is capable of creating mixed pallets also.
This first rough overview should give at least an impression of the power of the TM 9.3 package builder. Next MKSs might deal with the details how to set it up and how it behaves.