With it’s 9.1 release, SAP Transportation Management comes with the new feature of transportation load planning. While the focus so far has been more on route planning, scheduling, and carrier selection, the new feature boosts the application into new areas enabling additional customer implementations. And SAP Visual Business 2.1 supports this by making the table based information transparent for the planner by adding a different view on this data.
SAP TM offers with its planning functionality in the area of routing (building tours), scheduling and carrier selection already a set of very valuable tools to create reasonable transportation plans and reduce transportation cost. The routing already included weight and dimension restrictions and also comes with powerful incompatibility definition options to steer the optimization results. Nevertheless, when it comes to especially truck planning, more rules apply to fulfill legal restrictions. For example certain axle loads may not be exceeded. In addition, a certain loading sequence of the goods to be transported does further optimize the transportation plan. Generally spoken, load planning deals with loading the goods to be transported in an optimized manner into a transportation unit, may it be a truck, trailer, container or whatever resource.
Previous SAP TM releases did not offer any functionality in this area and it was required to integrate third-party products.
To make the feature work, it is required to enrich the vehicle and item information with load planning relevant attributes. For example for the truck dimensions, axle types and positions, trailer coupling measures, and many more are added to the master data definition. Also for items dimensions, weights, and stacking information is needed.
Load Plan as result
The result of the SAP Transportation Management 9.1 load planning is a load plan showing all items assigned to an order inclduing information like loading sequence, destination, and finally the position within the vehicle.
If an item can be loaded into the truck is visualized by a planning status.
Next to the load plan there is information regarding load distribution per vehicle and axle groups. The feature is completed by loading statistics.
3-D boost using SAP Visual Business 2.1
While the feature itself brings a high value, application development was searching for a way to make this very data intense and driven process more usable by adding a different view on it. A 3-D visualization would improve usability when maintaining the master data and also help the transportation planner to better understand the results of automatic load planning.
The creation of correct vehicles is now supported by a 3-D resource configurator. It immediately displays the effect of adjusted fields relevant for load planning and makes the transfer of this data from a vehicle data sheet into the system way more transparent. The result of a field mixup can easily be seen within the model.
Load Plan visualization
Within the central user interface of SAP Transportation Management, the Transportation Cockpit, it is now possible to not only see the table based load plan, but also the 3-D visualization.
By adding this, the planner can for example check the loading sequence by using the coloring feature provided by SAP Visual Business. He can also navigate through the scene by hiding certain objects. With the first look the colors of the axles tell him how heavy the truck is loaded and also free space become immediately visible. Clicking on an item brings up additional information.
SAP Transportation Management integrated SAP Visual Business since its 8.0 release using the VB geo-map component. With the new VB 3-D visualization it was not only possible to improve a new application feature, but to also keep the implementation effort low as the component was well known and all required application backend components already existed. From a TCO / TCI perspective the solution of using the very same component for geo-maps and 3-D is optimal.
Next steps will be a more interactive and dynamic load planning.