In SAP TM master data locations have a readable identifier, which is system internal. Usually TM customers define a reasonable naming convention to for example distiguish between their own locations like warehouses, and their customers. Behind all of that, there are the technical identifiers in a none-readable format.
When modelling scenarios for ocean and air, you soon stumble over ports, airports and other locations, that are involved in multi-modal transports. These locations are identified by international location codes of different formats. 2 important examples are the IATA-codes and UNLOCODES. Check here for more info:
To support such scenarios, SAP TM does allow to add such codes to its master data locations. Basically there are two ways to do that: You can add the codes as attribute to each location. Or you can define it as an alternative identifier. Now you might wonder what the difference is. I also need to remember it over and over again. Having it as an attribute allows you to have multiple locations using the same code. For example in your scenario you have an airport location, but also a gateway for it, and want to search by IATA code and find both, you have to add it as an attribute.
Standard master data Location maintenance
In case you only have the airport and no other location, it should be added as alternative identifer.
Alternative Location identifiers
From the list you can see there are also other alternative identifiers available. Note that those can also be transfered in the standard TM messages.
Allowed values for the international codes in format IATA and UNLOCODE can be defined in SAP TM customizing to enable an F4 help in the location maintenance (note 1773003) and input checks.
IMG path to IATA location codes
For the IATA-Codes it is also possible to take over the standard hierarchy provided by the IATA organization with IATA region codes and traffic conference areas.
And now comes the interesting part: How to get, integrate and keep up-to-date such international codes?
Well, the sources are clearly defined and can be found in the above provided links. I think not all of them are free of charge. 🙂 SAP TM does not come with these international codes in standard.
To integrate them you can type them in… Not the answer you have expected? I think there will be something available in standard soon. Anyway, in any customer project there should be at least one ABAP developer capable of writing a report loading data from an flat file (excel or CSV) and store it into a database table – maybe I spend a MKS on it. Why is it not in standard yet? SAP needs to provide much more around the pure upload and storage when delivering such an upload (authority check, input validation, documenttation). Relevant database tables: /SCMTMS/C_IATAC (actually all of those /SCMTMS/C_IATA*) and /SCMTMS/C_UNLOC.
Keep them up-to-date depends clearly on where you get them from and how you integrate them. I would not expect too many changes here, but anyway a point to consider. Especially have a strict input check on the fields.
One cool thing regarding these tables: There are coordinates attached to each code enabling to display them independendly from having a master data location. From the next screenshots you can see there are a few airports in the world… 🙂
IATA locations codes displayed on SAP Visual Business
IATA locations codes Eurpoe displayed on SAP Visual Business
Hope this shines a light on the topic.