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With Monday Knowledge Snippet 79 (MKS79) I started to introduce the new features of the Supply Chain Execution Package Builder (SCE PB) driven by SAP Transportation Management TM 9.6. I spent the following posts on detailed package building and the core developments around the new Package Building Optimizer. But as promised, TM 9.6 includes also additional process options.

Until TM 9.6, packages were only created during Freight Unit Building (see MKS53). Having this activated in the Freight Unit Building rule, the resulting Freight Unit documents hold a complete item hierarchy including the product items coming from the order and the package items created by the SCE PB. Semantically, this means the packaging is single customer, static and could not be changed afterwards.

In small order volume scenarios the limitation to single customer pallets is creating non efficient transportation plans. Waste of package material. Small heterogeneous product set -> non stackable pallets -> waste of cargo volume.

With SAP Transportation Management 9.6 a new market is tackled. I summarized this 1,5 years ago with a mission statement:

The solution for this is to build mixed packages / pallets containing items for multiple customers coming from multiple orders. Sounds so easy, but the requirements of this process for all phases are very high:

  • Planning of such mixed packages must respect routing, material, and customer constraints

  • Package building effort in the warehouse is high

  • Delivery is more difficult as items must be located

With the next MKSs I will go more into detail regarding the constraints, but today I would like to focus on the new process of consolidation package building.

Idea here is to NOT persist the package item hierarchy in the Freight Units documents, but only package estimates (How much will this set of ordered line items consume when being packaged later?). Automatic and manual planning then assigns such Freight Units to Freight Orders (or other capacity documents) by selecting the right resources. Those capacity documents contain at this point in the process only unpackaged product items. Either automatically or manually it is now possible to trigger a package building. Result of this process step can be mixed packages containing items for multiple customers (of course also full product pure packages / pallets are possible, completely depending on the product set). The final load planning step works similar to the previous process and places the top level items within the resource considering the resource master data attributes and load planning rules (MKS37).

As always in the powerful SAP TM application, all combinations are possible:

  • only FUs with already determined packaging -> no consolidation package building

  • only FUs with no packaging -> unlimited consolidation package building

  • mixed of both

This process also raises some questions:

  • Can a customer order be spread across multiple packages?

  • Can a product be spread across multiple packages?

  • Which groupings shall be applied?

As if this would not already be complicated enough, the question comes up how such a packaging behaves in a multi stage scenario. With the above described process enhancement it is possible to cover a delivery tour, were the capacity document contains the complete packaging information. But what if the mixed packages are first created in a warehouse, then transported with a big line haul truck to a regional hub and from there delivered with a small truck?

In this case, the packaging is independent of a single capacity document. To support this, TM 9.6 introduces the Package Units as new document category (MKS91). Stay tuned!