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Real-Time Supply Chain Visualization brings a Large Communication Manufacturer to New Heights

Supply chain management is about the planning and management of activities such as: Sourcing, Procurement, Conversion and Logistic management activities.

It is also about the coordination and collaboration with channel partners, which can be suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers, and customers. To summarize, supply chain management integrates supply and demand management within and across companies.


As you probably realize – or may have experienced – the task of managing a supply chain can grow to become increasingly complex. So what can be done to simplify these planning and management activities?

I was involved with a large communications company which manufactures equipment. The devices they produce are often, if not always, made up of a huge number of individual components sourced from a wide variety of internal and external suppliers. To add to the mix, their supply chain does not only consist of devices, but also includes services and software.

My customer wanted to simplify their planning and management activities by creating a supply chain cockpit in order to have a complete and one truth overview of the flow of products and services from end customer all the way down to single screws, leads, chords and other minor components part of their offerings.

This may already sound like a big undertaking, but the other requirement my customer had is that they wanted all of this to be analyzed and compiled with KPIs such as lead times, delivery times, SLA adherence, deviations and other calculations, all done in real time.

Now, the upside to the requirements was that most of the data needed to calculate these KPIs was available in SAP. In fact, the KPIs themselves were already available in SAP BW which is loaded nightly. But, SAP BW could not help us further here. Nightly snapshots would not be enough to achieve the goal of having a real time supply chain cockpit.

We decided to replicate the necessary sales and purchase tables into SAP HANA. I then started to create information models for orders and attempted to connect these together to form a supply chain.

The challenge was that for each step in the supply chain, the amount of rows needed grew exponentially. I calculated that with all the joins in place between the transaction tables (even when ignoring master data tables) HANA would need to create an execution plan for a total row count of 30 6 million records. Yes, that is right, 30 6 million (729 000 000 000 000) records!

Of course, the KPIs presented in the cockpit would only contain aggregated figures. What I did in order to aid these joins was to create triggers on the replicated tables so that the order IDs between the sales and purchase orders in the chain (which, as we have mentioned, could be a very long chain from the minor component purchase orders all the way up to the end customer sales order) are stored in lookup tables.

With the aid of the triggers, no aggregation tables were necessary. HANA was able to perform calculations on a row by row level to deliver the KPIs which could then be aggregated up to the presentation layer.


The result was that the entire order base and supply chain could be calculated and analyzed in under a minute. When restricted per for example region or customer, the results were of course much faster. It should be noted that these calculations were primarily done on date comparisons, i.e. not pure aggregation of measures. Still, we were able to achieve impressive performance. My customer now has information models ready and available to provide a complete and one truth overview of the flow of products and services to the end customer.

What is left to achieve the final goal is to decide on the presentation method. My customer has been experimenting with SAP Business Objects Design Studio and Webintelligence, although so far it has not been decided which tool is the most suitable for the end client presentation.

But to conclude, if you have been involved in working with a complex supply model, would not you agree that to have HANA information models available to analyze your complete supply chain in less than a minute – in real time – would bring your customer instant benefits?

To learn more about how SAP HANA Services can help you eliminate barriers to fast, informed decisions, please visit us online:

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