In SAP TM 7.0 it is possible to use Means of Transport (MoT) combinations. In this article you will find what the possibilities are. Many things are possible already, but there are some limitations. This article will also give some instructions about how to set up MoT combinations in the system.
Settings in the Means of Transport (MoT)
In order to make resource combinations you need to make preparations in the means of transport settings. A trailer, for example, can’t transport goods without being pulled by a truck. The types of vehicles that can’t move on their own can be categorized as ‘passive’ vehicles. ‘Active’ vehicles are able to have capacity, like trucks that have a loading platform. Trucks that don’t have a loading platform, and are only used for pulling trailers, can be flagged as MoTs without capacity.
After the means of transport have been set you can set MoT-combinations in customizing. Here you have to combine a ‘MoT-combination ID’ with the means of transport that are being used. Several means of transport have to be combined with one ‘MoT-combination ID’ to make one combination. After that you need to set how many times one means of transport occurs in that combination. Pay attention to this; this is a fixed amount. If a combination can have an extra passive means of transport (of the same kind already used) then two different kinds of MoT-combinations have to be set.
This can be a disadvantage. When you want to set a train constituted of up to 10 carriages, then 10 different MoT-combinations are possible. All of these have to be set separately in the system.
After setting the MoT-combinations it is possible to set a maximum capacity. This will be necessary when the combined capacity of the (passive) resource is higher than what the active vehicle can handle. If two trailers both have a capacity of 15 to and the truck can only pull 25 to, the maximum capacity will be 25 to. This can be set in the tab ‘Capacity’. This way the system will not overload the resources. In this tab different dimensions can be set, like the maximum volume, the maximum amount of pallets, etc.
For the passive means of transport it is possible to set the coupling and uncoupling durations. In the planning the system will account for these durations and will reserve time for the coupling and the uncoupling. These durations can be set separately. So coupling can take longer than uncoupling.
Take into account that the system doesn’t consider in which order the passive means of transport is connected. When linking carriages to a train the system doesn’t account that one of the carriages is located in the middle. So the system will account the same time for uncoupling the middle carriage as it will for the first or last carriage. Account for this when setting up the coupling and uncoupling durations.
Settings in the planning profile
If you want to select the proper MoT-combination it is not possible to select the combination directly. In order to make use of combinations you need to select the means of transport that are part of the combination. In the example of the truck-trailer combination, select both the truck and the trailer in order to plan them together as a MoT-combination.
These settings have the advantage of configuring separate planning costs for every means of transport. This way the cheapest combination will be chosen by the system. This is especially useful when you have a trailer that can be added to a truck or an articulated lorry. It is possible to configure when what kind of combination should be used.
Results during planning
At the start of the planning process the system will consider that all means of transports are uncoupled. This means that before the start of the transportation, the system will reserve time for the coupling. At the end of the planning horizon the system will make sure that all resources will be uncoupled again. In scenarios that the truck shouldn’t wait for the loading of the trailer this is especially useful.
There are still some functionalities that are missing in the system, or that are not working as expected. For example, it can be troublesome for train combinations that, in configuring the combinations, only exact amounts of means of transport must be given to make a combination. It is not possible to set that one locomotive can pull 1 to 50 carriages.
Also does the system not account for the order in which the resources are combined. The system doesn’t make a distinction if a carriage is located in the middle of the train or at the end. You need to account for that when setting the coupling/uncoupling durations.
At the end of the planning horizon the system makes sure that all combination are uncoupled. When this is not necessary, it means that the system generated planned activities that were not necessary.
Besides these imperfections, the MoT-combinations is a powerful tool to schedule trucks and trailers independently. With calculated costs for the use of resources, the system can be configured very flexible, leading to optimized exploitation. After making the right settings once, the system will come up with the most efficient way to combine vehicles and the most efficient way to transport goods.
When the last imperfections are solved in the system this part of the functionality can be used for every transportation mode. But for now, there are different areas where this kind of making combinations is very useful.