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Now time has come to take a look at the SAP/GTNet connector. This piece of configuration inside SAP handles generation of the XML needed by GTNet to link movements of goods in value chains together. The example below relies on two GLNs from GS1 to uniquely identify organizations, namely 5963115999990 and 5952287999990. In the example these GLNs are used to prefix generated IDs in order to achieve global uniqueness. These IDs make GTNet understand what items were shipped between the involved organizations even if their SAP systems operate with different internal identifiers.
(Actually, 5963115999990 and 5952287999990 are not legal GLNs, as GS1’s GEPIR service will tell you.)

 

Overview of events

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The graphic above illustrates two businesses involved in trade, both of which have SAP systems. The Producer on the left delivers some product to the Customer on the right. The red circles indicate events related to the movement of a product, the corresponding IDoc messaging between the two SAP systems, and the communication with GTNet. Inside the SAP installations the relevant activity is handled by XI. Actually, apart from SAP specific names the concept outlined below applies equally well to situations where businesses do not use SAP.

The events on the Producer-side amount to:

  1. Production
  2. Communication between the production line and SAP
  3. Products are shipped to the customer
  4. The SAP system sends shipping documents electronically
  5. The SAP system uploads XML to its TIX (look The GTNet ecosystem for an introduction to the GTNet ecosystem)
  6. The TIX communicates elements of global traceability to GTNet

Similarly, the following events take place at Customer:

  1. Products are received
  2. Communication between the production line and SAP
  3. The electronic shipping documents are received
  4. The SAP system uploads XML to its TIX
  5. The TIX communicates elements of global traceability to GTNet

Lastly, based on events (6) and (E) GTNet is able to use the uploaded XML to create a global link between the two companies:

  1. GTNet matches SentTo and ReceivedFrom fields in the XML files and establishes global traceability

As can be seen in the TIX parts of the graphic, there are two objects involved at either side – finished product + outgoing shipment, and incoming shipment + received product. These names are related to the FOOD_REGS model Bringing traceability to customers.

In the following I will take a closer look at the XML files that are associated with events (5) and (D) in the graphic. It is the responsibility of XI to construct these files for the SAP/GTNet connector.

Dispatch of a product

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This graphic shows a piece of XML corresponding to event (5) in the top graphic, i.e. the message that goes from Producer’s SAP system to its TIX. The graphic contains identification of the first occurrence of a number of fields, i.e., the GLN of Producer and Customer, Shipping year, Delivery ID, Material ID, Batch ID and Item number. Apart from the GLNs, they all come from the underlying SAP system. The timestamp fields are coded according to ISO 8601.

The following lines deserve special attention:

  • line 02 – Identifier constructed for outgoing shipment
    The concatenation of the GLN, the Shipping year and the Delivery ID is guaranteed to be unique, so long as any Deliver ID is not used more than once per year.
  • line 05+06 – Naming the receiver of the shipment with a GLN
    This way the SAP system itself does not need to have a globally unique identification of customers.
  • line 09 – Identifier constructed for finished product
    The concatenation of the GLN, Delivery ID, Material ID, Batch ID and Item number becomes a unique identifier as long as there is some element guaranteed not to repeat.
  • line 16 – 19 – Placing the finished product inside the outgoing shipment
    The relationship between the two trade units is implemented in the XML by putting the finished product into the outgoing shipment with a EnterCluster-directive.

This way Producer has created its contribution to making global traceability for the items that it delivers to Customer.

Reception of a product

image

This graphic shows a piece of XML corresponding to event (D) in the top graphic, i.e. the message that goes from Customer’s SAP system to Customer’s TIX.

The following lines deserve special attention:

  • line 02 – Identifier constructed for incoming shipment
    The concatenation of the GLN, the Shipping year and the Delivery ID is guaranteed to be unique, so long as the Deliver ID is not used more than once per year.
  • line 05+06 – Naming the sender of the shipment with a GLN
    This way the SAP system itself does not need to have a globally unique identification of suppliers. Together with the identifier in line 08, the ReceivedFrom message will enable GTNet to match the two sides of the exchange.
  • line 08+10 – Upstream identifiers retrieved from the received goods
    The physical shipment carries identification in the shape of, e.g., barcodes or RFIDs that includes the identifiers assigned to goods coming from Producer.
  • line 13 – Identifier constructed for received product
    The concatenation of the GLN, Delivery ID, Material ID, Batch ID and Item number becomes a unique identifier as long as there is some element guaranteed not to repeat.
  • line 17 – 20 – Taking the received product out from the incoming shipment
    The relationship between the two trade units is implemented in the traceability XML by taking the received product out from the incoming shipment with a LeaveCluster-directive.
SAP/GTNet connector

The SAP/GTNet connector handles communication with GTNet whether the company is surrounded by other SAP users or whether the company is an isolated island in a non-SAP sea. Most of the fields used to construct identifiers come from the internals of SAP. However, there is no concept for ensuring that trading partners have globally unique identifiers inside SAP. Therefore the SAP/GTNet connector employs a mapping table in each installation for mapping from SAP internal IDs to globally unique IDs.
The example shown above relied on GLNs as defined by GS1 for globally unique identifiers. However, GLNs are not the only mechanism for globally unique identifiers, and the GTNet infrastructure has has support for alternatives like DUNS from Dun and Bradstreet. Work is also underway to integrate the ISO 6523 scheme.
The different numeric fields in identifiers are all stripped of leading zeros (‘0’).This is necessary to bridge systems with different field lengths and formats.

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