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Today a very specific package builder topic about additional package and separation material. Intended for a pallet scenario, I did not think deeper about usages for closed packages.

By default, the PB tries to create mixed pallets combining 2 or more products using layers. In my showcase scenario I have 2 products: PB_MAT_01 has 15 pieces per layer (25cm height per layer) and PB_MAT_02 has 4 pieces per layer (30cm per layer). If I order 30 PB_MAT_01 and 8 PB_MAT_02, the result pallet looks like this:

Both products fit onto a single mixed pallet. The height of the pallet is 2 x 25cm + 2 x 30cm + 10cm (pallet material itself) = 120cm.

Additional Package Material: First feature I want to show is how to add more pallets to this picture. In reality sometimes the requirement exists to separate the products by additional pallets to increase warehouse efficiency. When de-consolidating such mixed pallets in the target warehouse or at the customer, it is possible to handle each product directly with a forklift not requiring manual steps. Such mixed pallets are still handled as a single pallet during transportation and are typically wrapped to ensure stability, but look like two stacked pallets.

Of course this additional pallet material consumes height / volume and also has a weight. It needs to be considered when checking the height and weight restrictions of the mixed pallet.

From a business process point of view this setting is a balancing tool between transportation and warehousing. From the transportation side it is clear: You want to transport as many products with the lowest number of pallets utilizing as much volume in the resource as possible (reduce freight cost). From the warehouse perspective you want to minimize the handling cost when creating and deconsolidating the mixed pallets. And finally, from the service perspective you want to serve the customers as good a possible. In addition, pallets are a cost factor, so they shall only be used when it is requested.

So in the product - package type assignment, you can define per product, location, and business partner, how the mixed pallets shall be created:

Typically this indicator is interpreted when adding another product onto the mixed pallet to answer the question if there is another pallet material below. Unfortunately I had to admit that this viewpoint is not completely true. If I add a material that does not have this indicator set on top of a material that has it enabled, for the handling purpose still this additional pallet is required. I have corrected this behavior of the missing pallet with note 2437734 (+ 2459638).

So with the above set indicator of PB_MAT_01, the result pallet looks like this:

In the test report /SCMB/TEST_PB you can see all the attributes. Note that in the standard application integration into SAP TM the number of used pallets is not stored, so just the height and weight of the pallet changes.

If I set the indicator also for PB_MAT_02, the result pallet does not change, but the package material is assigned to PB_MAT_02.

For mixed pallets that are not layer based or for remaining quantities not filling complete layers, the rule applies when a single product requires additional pallet material, the complete mixed volume based layer gets it.

As you can see from the examples the indicator DOES NOT mean that an additional pallet is added per product layer defined in the material master data, but per aggregated product layer. So if you have 2 or more layers of the same product, you of course only get a single additional pallet.

Separation Material: In reality some SAP customers told us that they would like to use a different material to separate two products (for example slip sheets). The above described feature always adds the assigned package material. Basically the same rules apply like for the package material, but here it is always only considered on top of the product layer.

To add separation material, note 2437734 enhanced the product package type assignment:

By default the separation material is only added on top of the product if something is stacked on it. When setting the mandatory indicator, it is also added for the top layer (for example you know that on top of this stackable pallet the load planer can stack another pallet and the top layer shall be protected using this material).

My example separation material weights 5 kg and has a height of 2 cm.

When running the same scenario, the result looks like this:

PB has added two separation materials, one on top of each product. Pallet looks like this:

From a SAP TM perspecitive the attributes of the pallets are most relevant for the planning process, but with the integration into SAP EWM also the packaging instruction including this additional material will become important.