Metals companies very often use configurable materials in their make-to-order sales process. The best practice in Mill products foresees that the semi-finished materials or products when they are put to stock use the batch concept to carry the actual configuration as batch characteristic.
An example would be steel sheets, where the alloy specification, the coating and the dimensions are entered as configuration into the sales order. In stock the sheet would have the same parameters now as batch characteristics. When using such a concept, important for the usability is the fast entry of characteristics in sales order, purchase order, production order and goods movements: SAPhelp on Fast entry of Characteristics
In standard a powerful transaction when using batches is the batch info cockpit, where a very good overview over batches and their characteristics together with their stock situation is given, and also where-used lists are available: Batch Info Cockpit
Further helpful is the concept of the WIP (work in process) batches that supports the batch tracing in production scenarios where not all production steps are modelled with stock materials. The WIP batch provides visibility in the relationships within the production order. An example would be that 5 cold-rolled coils, handled in batches go into a production order and after hot rolling, cutting and coating a number of sheets in different sizes are posted to stock as individual batches. Using WIP batches would create transparency on the way how each individual sheet was produced: WIP Batches
(Remark: WIP batch available since ERP 6.0 EhP4, or as proccess batch (Mill Products enhancement since R/3 Enterprise 4.71) Process Batches
See also the related article in BPX that describes how batch history information can be consolidated from different systems using SAP MII: How-to-Guide
With the latest ERP enhancement packs the WIP batch is now even integrated into the highly relevant order split functionality Order Split
A ‚light-weight’ batch management can be achieved using the documentary batch, where just the batch info is maintained but materials in logistics are not handled as batches:
The concept of batch specific units of measure is often found in metals companies, e.g. to handle a steel sheet parallel in square meters and kilograms, or to measure ore in total tons, dry tons and kilograms of metal content: Batch UoM
Another new development in ERP 6.0 enhancement packs is the make-to-stock production of configurable material, where the material valuation issue is solved by using individually valuated batches which receive their batch value form the production order costing. That approach allows a sufficiently precise accounting and provides more flexibility in logistics compared to a full make-to-order approach, where all production steps from the slab to the sheet are performed under assignment to a sales order: batch valuation of configurable materials
The described concept of the batch usage is an integral part of SAP’s Best Practice for Flat Steel. The chapter T04 MM & Batch Configuration gives all the details for the scenario configuration. The best practice might be used to accelerate implementations or as a knowledge source.