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The Supply Chain Execution Package Builder available since SAP Transportation Management 9.3 (MKS53) and enhanced heavily with TM 9.6 (MKS79) is from a functional point of view a standalone component designed to package items following assignments and constraints. Those package building definitions are not application specific, meaning that the SCE PB does not care where the items are coming from. An item is simply defined by the product/material, location, and business partner attributes supplied and all available settings are covered by the Package Building Profiles. No application specific setting has any influence on the result of the package building. The applications using the PB are responsible to correctly map their item attributes into the PB format, supply the correct Package Building profile to the component, and handle the result item hierarchy.

Application specific processes including package building are typically pretty complex. When unexpected results occur in the business documents, it is often hard to identify the issue. What helps a lot is to test the core SCE PB independently of the application to identify if the issue occurs in the component itself (SCM-BAS-PAK-PB) or on the application side (SAP TM component TM-PLN-PB). To enable this separation, the Package Builder test report /SCMB/TEST_PB was created. With the big TM 9.6 developments, the report has grown a lot. Now it is more than just a simple separated test tool.

When the result of the PB is correct in the test report, you can 99% be sure that the issue lies on the application side.

Before I start to explain the (new) features, a few best-practices:

  1. Package Building Scenario Setup: Always start to setup a PB scenario using the report. It gives you way more details, is quicker to adjust and does not leave any outdated business documents in the system. As soon as you receive for your input items the expected result hierarchy, you can enhance the scenario with the application specifics.

  2. Package Building Ticket: When you encounter a core PB issue in the application, reproduce it in the test report, save it as a variant and report this variant in the ticket. This will speed up the ticket processing a lot. Often it is hard to access the system with a HTTP connection, triggering the PB again requires additional steps, or the processor has no application specific knowledge and needs to pass the ticket first through the application component to reproduce it. When the variant is available, it is first of all clear that SCM-BAS-PAK-PB is correct and the issue can immediately be checked.

  3. Product Analysis: Package building is a very master data based process. The test report now brings all of the package building definitions together, so it can be the center of the analysis.

Package Building Test Mode

The primary task of the test report is to test the package building in execution mode 'PB Result'.

Package Building Selection Screen

It is possible to enter a Package Building Profile and 3 items fully specified. This is available to save the scenario as a variant. When running this, the PB is called like it would be from the application, and a result screen is displayed:

Package Building Result Display

The top left area shows the input items. The top right area shows the package building result item hierarchy with all item attributes (including technical key fields as GUIDs for support reasons). The bottom area displays a lot of messages that can not be seen in the applications. Those messages explain the internal PB processing and can give a hint for scenario and error analysis.

The result item hierarchy has been improved by indicating the number of sub-items and the product identifier and description as separate fields.

Key features are:

(1) Input item adjustments: One of the great new features is that the PB can be executed out of this screen over and over again after adjusting the input items. It is possible to adjust the item keys or quantities, add or delete items, or supply only a selected set of items out of the list. The list can even be down- and uploaded. Of if the detected issue requires more than the 3 items available on the selection screen, the complete item list can be downloaded and attached to the ticket to enable a quick reproduction of the issue.

(2) Jump to Product Master Data: To quickly check the product master data (or adjust it), it is possible to jump from the PB result item hierarchy to the maintenance.

(3) Jump into Product Hierarchy: With the newly added support of a product hierarchy (MKS81), it can be crucial to quickly check the assignment as this can influence the packaging significantly.

This function brings up a new screen:

Product Hierarchy

(4) Reference Product Hierarchy: Per item, the result screen shows the reference products and for a package item the most specific (homogeneous) reference product is displayed. This makes it easier to identify which products have been mixed and on which level.

Combining all of those features, you almost never have to leave the report when working on a scenario.

Very important: even the new Package Building Optimizer scenarios are supported. Under each item the exact positions and orientation can be checked:

Package Building Optimizer result

Package Type Determination

The determination of the used (target) package type and the definitions applied is complicated (MKS84), especially considering the product hierarchy and the support of pattern entries in the assignment definition. To make this more transparent, the test report offers the mode 'PPTA/PTA Determination' (PPTA = Product Package Type Assignment / PTA = Package Type Assignment).

It brings up a result screen that should make it clear which definition was used.

Product Hierarchy Overview

The next mode is the analysis of the product hierarchy (up and down).

This brings up the same screen like from the PB result.

The screen combines on the top right side the product hierarchy and in the bottom areas master data definitions. It is possible to jump directly into the product, display for each of the products the alternative units of measure definitions and the PTA assignments.

Especially when cleaning up master data, this overview gives an aggregated view of all relevant definitions. It is even possible to adjust the assignment of products to reference products when building up the hierarchy. This is much more efficient compared to enter each product separately.

I am personally a big fan of this report. And customer feedback was also great so far.


Transaction: /SCMB/TEST_PB

Relevant Notes:

2796867 PB Test Report Improvements

2789657 PB Test Report Improvements

2789577 PB Test Report Transaction