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Monday Knowledge Snippet (MKS) – 13 Transportation Lanes vs. Trade Lanes

Today I want to explain the difference between Transportation and Trade Lanes. As both objects have a lot in common, a few people might get confused about the usage.

Taking a first look, both objects are geographical definitions having a start and a destination. Start and destination can either be a location or a transportation zone. To each instance Means of Transport can be assigned. So much of the similarities.

Transportation Lanes are used to steer transportation planning processes and have a long history going back to the SAP APO. To really steer something, they need to have quite a lot of attributes attached to them like validity, duration, distance, cost, carriers, and so on. This makes the object itself quite complex and the maintenance sometimes cumbersome. The definition itself is part of the SCM basis, SAP TM defines its own view on it with transaction /SCMTMS/TL5 hiding irrelevant fields. When trying to plan an order from location A to location B, the system will evaluate if there is a valid transportation lane including hierarchical aspects for the network and means of transport. Short to say: You don’t have to define for all location combinations an own lane, but you can use transportation zones. For example from my warehouse X to all customers on the east coast, there can be just a single lane. I will spend an own MKS for this in the future.


Transportation Lane

Within the SAP TM solution, there are different additional spots where a geographical definition is required, but on a much lower detailed level without all of these special planning attributes. The complexity and cumbersome definition of Transportation Lanes led to the decision, the create a new TM specific and lean object, the so called Trade Lane. Trade Lanes are used for Business Shares, Allocations, and Freight Agreements. This more contractual view includes a more flexible definition including an orientation for each Trade Lane. This makes it possible to define Trade Lanes without a start or destination for some orientations, which is allowed for Transportation Lanes. Possible orientations are: Inbound, Outbound, From, To, Along and Within.


Trade Lane in Freight Agreement


Trade Lane in Business Share


Trade Lane in Allocation

Another difference compared to Transportation Lanes is the possibility to define Trade Lanes just for a Transportation Mode like AIR or SEA not specifing a Means of Transport. When evaluating the Trade Lanes, the system will automatically determine all relevant Means of Transport for the Trade Lane.

For Trade Lanes there is no own maintenance UI as they are created in the Business Shares, Allocations, or Freight Agreements. Of course if a Trade Lane already exists (for example created for a specific FA), it will be reused for all other definitions.

Important to note is that Trade Lanes are not used during planning. There is no direct link between Transportation Lanes and Trade Lanes. Of course you can think of scenarios where this might be cool to have and maybe it will come in the future, but currently the planning specific definition must also exist. The Trade Lane itself has a function to find all relevant Transportation Lanes on BO level.

I am not aware of any upload function for Trade Lanes.

I hope this shines a light on the topic.

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      • I mean... on 9.0 we define the trade lane within the freight agreement and on 9.1 we have a the following spro activities:

        - Transportation Network -> Trade Lane -> Define Trade Lane Types

        - Transportation Network -> Trade Lane -> Define Number Range Intervals for

        Trade Lanes

        And we can define a trade lane on... Master Data  -> Transportation Network   -> Trade Lane   -> Create Trade Lane

        • Well, the trade lane turned into master data as it is used in multipe TM documents. In the past it was created implicitly from those screens. Now it is more transparent.

          The 2 activities are preparation steps for the master data (general setup), and the transaction is the maintenance for it.

  • Hi Marcus,

    I would require technical details for creating a Trade lane. Could you please tell me if there is any BAPI/FM for a Trade Lane? or even if there is any for Freight Agreement will be useful. I did debug the std transaction and found nothing, i would like to confirm on the same.



  • Hi Marcus,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I did debug this method and found no FM or BAPI. It just builds data and send it to Do_Save method of multiple classes. We will have to enhance Trade lane structure for adding custom fields and the Table entry creation is happening via an Interface, so custom program has to be written to create/update entries.

    Please let me know if any other information is available.



  • Hello Marcus,

    We have a business scenario to haveĀ  a link between Transportation Lanes and Trade Lanes. Can you please let me know if this link exists by now or if there is any plan by SAP in future to have such link. Also, would appreciate if you can specify a function to find all relevant Transportation Lanes from Trade lane on BO level.

    Best Regards,