1. Introduction:

The market demand for steel products with high added value has been growing over the years.
A steel Industry has multiple plants and has a number of variants in products to meet these growing specific requirements. Managing the variations in customer demand makes it difficult to plan and use the resources efficiently.

The need of Variant configuration:

• The system has to depend on the people expertise of metallurgical knowledge, this creates risk of overheads.
• Steel Products have a complex permutation & combinations of different characteristics & properties which define their product mix.
• There are Mill specific checks to be covered which includes– steel properties/Grades, allowed thickness, width, length etc.

 

2. Process Flow
SAP addresses this Business needs through Variant Configuration.

• Various classes are configured for Hot Rolled, Cold Rolled, Galvanized, Tin plated etc.
• Characteristics and allowed values are created which defines steel physical, chemical, metallurgical and dimensional properties.
e.g- Grade, Thickness, Width, Length,
• Various dependencies like precondition, procedures and constraints are used to establish allowed values and range based on mill like dimensional tolerance and steel grades

In the steel industry most of the production happens through MTO route and below is the process flow diagram for Make-to-Order Production with Variant Configuration

 

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Reference : https://help.sap.com
3.0 Different components of Variant Configuration 
In the steel Industry, it need not required to create material for each of the variant, instead use one configurable material to cover all the variants.

Super BOM– that contains all the components

Super Routing– Steps in the manufacturing operations for producing all the variants of the products.

Characteristics– SAP Characteristics are used to describe specifications and record values for example Grade, Thickness, Width, Length, Edge, Finish, and Tolerance, “tensile strength of steel coil”, “carbon content in steel” etc.
Characteristic “GRADE” has the values ‘304’, ‘316’, and ‘316L’. When you classify an object, you use this characteristic to specify the Grade of the object.

Class- Characteristics are grouped together in a class to specify the set of characteristics that belong to a particular group of Materials. This Class is further assigned to a set of Materials that have the same set of characteristics.

To define the features of a configurable material, you use characteristics. To enable you to use characteristics to configure a material, you assign the material to a class of class type 300.
Dependencies- The only limitations are combinations of features/characteristics that are not feasible for either technical or sales reasons. For example all types of thickness, chemical, mechanical properties can’t be combined with all types of grades. In Variant Configuration, we use dependencies to control this. This prevents combinations of options that are not allowed. Dependencies also select exactly the right BOM components and operations to produce a variant.
Each configurable object/material must have a configuration profile. The configuration profile for a material controls the configuration process in the sales order.

You can make the price of a variant dependent on the characteristic values assigned (Pricing). You can use variant conditions to define surcharges and discounts for a variant.

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4.0 Steps of Variant configuration for BOM Material
     4.1 Defining Material as configurable 

A material HPL-A06-N1 (Hot rolled annealed pickled plate, Sheet 316L, Finish No1) is created as configurable material with Gen item category group 0002 and item category group as TAC. Also the material HPL-A06-N1 is a BOM material, which as sub items.

Go to MM01 and perform the following in the material master form views:
Basic data 2
• Configurable Material=X
• (Material Type: KMAT)
MRP
• MRP Group Eg: 25
• MRP Type Eg: PD, Not ND
• MRP Lot Size EX
• Availability Check 2
• Individual/Collective 1
• Strategy Group Eg: 25
Sales: Sales Org 2
• Item Category Group 0002 ( transfer requirement and Pricing at header level) or  0004 ( transfer requirement and pricing at assembly level)
Classification
• Class type 300
• Assign Variant Class(es)
Work Scheduling
• Define Order change profile

4.2 Create Characteristics

For material HPL-A06-N1 the following characteristics were being created:

1. Grade- this is the steel grade, for e.g 316L
2. Finish- surface finish of the material
3. Product Standard- product standard as per the defined International standard.
4. Thickness
5. Width
6. Length

In the below subsequent steps creation of one of the characteristics i.e Grade has been explained:
GO to Transaction CT04

Basic Data View

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Values View:

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Go to the values tab and maintain the characteristics values and description as per the requirement

• In this view, you can predefine allowed values for the characteristics.
• If the characteristic is a character format characteristic (Grade), you can manually define the allowed value as 304, 304L, 316, 316L. The number of characters used to define the value should be equal to the allowed characters define in the basic data view of the characteristics.
• For numerical characteristics you can also define tolerance ranges within which the characteristics values should be set or you can define the allowed values to be equal to or greater than or less than a certain value.

Restriction View

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If you want to restrict a Characteristics for use in a particular Class Type, then you can enter the Class types that you are restricting the characteristics to, in the Restrictions Tab, For Example if you want to use a characteristics “Grade” in the Material Class type- 003 and not in the Batch Class type 023, then enter 003 in the restrictions tab.
If you don’t use the restrictions, you can use the characteristics in any class type as required.
Assigning Object Dependencies
The dependencies help in making it mandatory to assign value to the characteristic during configuration or defaulting value to a characteristic or setting value to a characteristic or hiding / displaying characteristics/ values during configuration.

The dependencies can be assigned to characteristic, characteristic values, BOM components, routing operations, Configuration profiles based on the need.
You can assign the following type of object dependencies to a characteristics or characteristics values:

1. Procedure: It is used to infer a Characteristic value dependent on particular condition and can be added in Configuration profiles, and in SUPER BOM/Routing to change Master Data values such as Component Quantity, labor time.
2. Selection Condition: It is used for selection of components/operations and can be used to make characteristics as USER entry required and can be added to only Characteristic level, BOM components.
3. Pre-Condition: It is used to hide the characteristics. And can be added to Characteristic and their values only.
4. Constraints: It’s Group of Constraints (Dependency) and can be added in configuration profile only. It is used to restrict the characteristics values.

Example: Pre-conditions for Characteristics Values

If you are producing a Hot Rolled Annealed Pickled (HRAP) Plate then a “316” Grade can only have USA-Canada AISI-ASTM-ASME 316 “Standard”
Create two characteristics “Grade” and ” Standard” and assign both the characteristics the material that is being produced, it can be a configurable material used in variant configuration or it can be a regular material whose value assignment needs to be governed (it can be controlling the value assignment in material class or a batch class or in a variant class) see below:

Characteristics – Grade – 05 – 316L

Characteristics – Standard-04 – USA-Canada AISI-ASTM-ASME 316L ($SELF.Grade= ’05’)

The object dependencies “Z01” – Precondition (just an example name) can be created as a precondition with an algorithm $SELF.Grade = ’05’. The object dependency must be assigned to the value 04 – USA-Canada AISI-ASTM-ASME 316L of the characteristics “Standard”
5.0 Creation of SAP Class and Class Type

First assign the characteristics to a class and then assign the class to the object.

Classes are created for a class type, for example, if you want to create a class assigned with characteristics for defining the variant features, then the class type is called “variant – 300.

Create Class as “Steel Class”, CL01 transaction code for Class and class types are pre-configured by SAP.

Basic Data View

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The Basic Data view contains the following. You should first enter values for the Basic data view explained as below:

• Status: You should use the characteristics status to lock it for use or to release it for use in classes. If you are creating in the process of creation, you can also choose the status – “in Preparation”
• Class Group: The classification of a class or the grouping of the class helps in reporting or retrieving a certain class.
• Assignment of the class to an organization area like Sales, purchasing, production, where the characteristics of the class are going to be used. This is optional
• “Do not check” for identical characteristics values in the classification of an different object of the same class
• When identical values are assigned to the classification of different object using the same class, the system issues a warning – Check with warning
• When identical values are assigned to the classification of different object using the same class, the system issues a error – Check with error
• Authorization restriction for maintaining, using the class for classification and searching objects of the class.
• Assignment indicator – defines whether objects are already assigned to the class.

Characteristics View

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In the characteristics tab, you have to enter the name of the characteristics which is required to be assigned to the class. Pressing F1 on the characteristics in the characteristics tab would divert to the characteristics master data. When you insert characteristics in the characteristics tab, the details of the characteristics is also gets populated.

 

6.0 Create Configuration profile
A configuration profile HPL-A06-N1 is created for the material HPL-A06-N1 and set status as released.
GO to transaction CU41

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The necessary settings are maintained for the configurable material HPL-A06-N1 to explore in a sales order.

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We have to create the variant conditions for the characteristics maintained in the class STEELCLASS. Then go to configuration or press F8 as shown below.
Transaction code: CU50.
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Select one of the characteristics and go for its value and press the icon assign variant condition. Likewise we can maintain the variants for all the characteristics and its values.

Assigning Classes to Objects
Assign configurable material with Variant class 300, in order to capture configuration values with characteristics at the point of creating a sales order
In the classification view of the material master assign the class to material, which indirectly assigns the characteristics to the objects or the material master.
7.0 Create the sales order
Now let us create a sales order. As the material is a BOM material it should explore with the sub-items and also should give us the screen to select the required material.
The Stainless steel has Nickel composition and its price fluctuates very frequently, so the business requirement here is to keep the material price to be entered manually.

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Select the characteristics to configure the material in the sales order

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Save the sales order

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Disclaimer: This document explains variant configuration basics and how it is being applied in the steel industry, the content of the document has been captured from the existing sources and presented here to explain the application of VC. To make the process more elaborative screenshots have been presented in this document and may vary in case of actual scenario.

 

References:
https://help.sap.com
http://www.sapsword.com/home/sap-batch-management/sap-classsification-system

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3 Comments

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  1. Stefan Weisenberger

    Nice and concise, Rahul.

    Not mandatory but helpful is the use of material variants – in all their flavours. Either as a fully configured variant, with a fully defined set of attribute values. Or as a partially configured variant which defaults 80% of the attributes and the sales rep only has to complete a few like dimensions and coating.

    Complementing this, on the other side, is the batch classification (often with the same attributes) to capture the reality of produced items, like sheets or coils. In most cases each item has slightly different physical & quality descriptions – that’s what we capture in the batch – but also the real dimensions.

    Thanks again. This is a good start and I already recommended this as a read to a customer.

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