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With the new process Consolidation Package Building introduced with SAP Transportation Management 9.6 (MKS90), a lot of new challenges for the Supply Chain Execution Package Builder (SCE PB) came up. One of those is how location attributes of an item to be packaged can influence the result.

Mixed Pallets

So far all processes using the SCE PB only supplied an item set sharing the same start and destination location. Those values were used to determine the target package type and to be applied limits. This way it was for example possible to apply a customer or warehouse (location) specific height limit for mixed pallets.

With the new process CPB, the items can have different locations. I focus here on the delivery scenario, so the items have the same start location (warehouse, where the packaging happens) and different destination locations. When building mixed packages / pallets for those items, now two additional requirements pop up:

1. When a destination location belongs to a specific location group, its items can only be consolidated with items going to other locations of the same group. (location hard grouping)

  • Use Case for location hard grouping is when additional constraints disallow the creation of mixed package / pallets. For example road security can lead to the restriction, that for a set of locations far off no opened mixed pallet can be on the truck when driving on a fast speed road.

2. When a destination location belongs to a specific location group, its items shall preferentially be consolidated with items going to other locations of the same group. In case this does not lead to a sufficiently utilized package / pallet, a mix with other items is allowed (location soft grouping)

  • Use Case for location soft grouping is a scenario with some shops very close together (for example a shopping mall), where the delivery can be speed up keeping all of those items going to those shops together. But depending on the ordered item quantity, this can on some days end up in very low utilized pallets, what shall be avoided.

To support those business requirements, it is now possible to define location hierarchies in the package building profile. Location hierarchies are a standard master data definition being available in SCM for quite a while (Transportation Management -> Master Data -> Transportation Network -> Maintain Hierarchy). I show as an example a location hierarchy for soft grouping:

For the usage in the SCE PB, a new standard SAP hierarchy structure has been created and delivered (PB_LOC_HIERARCHY), that is mandatory for the definition.

Hierarchy Maintenance Entry

Hierarchy Maintenance

In the example you can see 2 shopping malls (GREENWOOD and WESTFIELD), that both have 3 locations assigned.

The maintenance of those hierarchies is currently manual, so each assignment requires a thoughtful decision. So as soon as a new shop comes into play, it must be added here to the correct shopping mall. The result of of an incorrect or missing assignment is in the bad case an unexpected mixture of items. But the stuff at least goes out.

Having those hard and soft location hierarchies defined, they can be set for usage in the package building profile:

Package Building Profile with defined location hierarchies

So now running the PB for a freight order with this set of items (you recognize some items going to locations belonging to a soft group and some items being unrestricted):

Item Set

Package Building Result

You can see that the first pallet only contains items going to the shopping mall locations. The second pallet contains the unrestricted items, but the last item belongs to a shopping mall location. It did not fit onto the first pallet, so it was consolidated with the unrestricted items. In case this would have been a hard location group, this item would have ended up on a separate pallet.

The question when is a pallet sufficiently utilized is a difficult one and depends a lot on the customer scenario. The standard supports here the consideration of a target fill rate, but an enhancement spot is also available to add specific logic (SET_PACKAGE_COMPLETE).