#S4HANA 1709 use case series: 3b – Advanced Variant Configuration (tech view)
Welcome to our next stop of our use case series. It is designed to offer a closer look at business value acceleration – driven by the design principles of SAP S/4HANA. The technology-induced implications of the digital economy are huge, though the technology itself is only a catalyst to achieve a fundamentally different business outcome.
The selected use cases, related to SAP S/4HANA Release 1709 are designed to emphasize and visualize the value behind this technological shift, that can be activated by you.
After taking a look at the business aspects in advanced variant configuration with the SAP S/4HANA 1709 release in the last blog, we will today dive into the technical aspects.
SAP S/4HANA 1709 Advanced Variant Configuration
As described in the blog mentioned above, the “segment of one” is driving change in Manufacturing.
With the recent advanced variant configuration innovations, you can improve your company’s sales, product management and product engineering performance. You do not need to create a separate material for each variant of a product in your company. You can use one configurable material to cover all variants. You create a “super BoM” and a “super routing” for this material, containing all the components and operations for producing all variants of the product.
With the 1709 release, it is possible to use both, the classical variant configuration and advanced variant configuration in SAP S/4HANA. The classical variant configuration in SAP S/4HANA works as before (except some minor changes). The advanced variant configuration uses the same data base tables for configuration data and master data as the classical variant configuration.
With SAP S/4HANA for advanced variant configuration, we now provide the following:
- New integrated advanced variant configurator supports single-level variant configuration models
- Reusable SAP Fiori configuration user experience (UX) integrated into sales order and material master providing improved user guidance through more precise value restrictions, filtering, and undo and redo functionality
- State-of-the-art configuration engine leveraging SAP HANA capabilities
- New simulation environment for bills of materials (BoMs) using SAP Fiori UX
- Syntax enhancement: negative variant tables
- Flexible report that allows users to generate core data services (CDS) views based on user-selected variant configurator characteristics
In the following, we go into more details on the state of the art advanced variant configurator that offers a toolset for managing customizable products and the test and simulation of the variant configuration during the master data setup.
The integrated variant configurator supports single level variant configuration models. The “make to stock” scenarios can be run with the product variants and “make to order” scenarios using configurable materials. The reusable configuration valuation user interface that can be embedded into Fiori apps is embedded into simulate configurable models, product master, sales order and production order (in display mode only). The modelling tools are available for variant configuration models with additional simulation environment for testing variant configuration models that includes the simulation of configurable bills of material (BoMs). On top of it all, you can enable variant configuration data for embedded analytics.
New advanced configurator
“Make to Stock” and “Make to Order” processes have been enabled for advanced variant configuration. Configuration data can be maintained at sales order level and is passed on through the whole process steps. You can access sales order maintenance transactions via the Fiori Launchpad. Your user requires to be assign to the business role “Internal Sales Representative”.
The users can now configure sales order line item with new advanced configuration. To configure a sales order item using advanced variant configuration, the corresponding configurable product requires a configuration profile allowing advanced variant configuration.
On the characteristic valuation UI, you define the features of a variant of a configurable product. You configure the product by assigning values to its characteristics. As you enter characteristic values, dependencies for the characteristics, characteristic values, and the configuration profile are processed. Depending on the values you assign, characteristics can be enabled or disabled for editing. Characteristic values can be shown or hidden and values can be set for characteristics automatically. Once values are set by the user, the value domains of the corresponding characteristics are restricted to exactly these values. On retracting the user set values, the allowed values are displayed again. Characteristics can now have default values assigned that are marked with a blue bar. Defaults can be accepted by pressing the check mark next to the corresponding control. Side panel shows further attributes of the selected characteristic: In the side panel, you find information on the main properties of a selected characteristic, its selectable and not selectable values and assigned object dependencies.
Configured sales order saved successfully: Once you press done you can save the sales order. In case the configuration status is incomplete or inconsistent on leaving the configuration screen, it will automatically be locked. Once this is saved successfully, the configuration data is passed to all levels.
Master data maintenance for advanced variant configuration
The new advanced simulation environment for variant configuration models now have an SAP Fiori-based “Simulate Configuration Models” app to search for configurable products and configured objects and start a configuration simulation with them. Additionally, you can also search for and open a previously created and saved simulation. You can use the simulation to test and analyze your configuration model by configuring your object using the integrated characteristic value assignment screen and check whether your dependencies work.
It is important to flag the process mode for either classic or advanced variant configuration. The new advanced variant configuration is activated by setting this option on level of configuration profile. By default, all the existing variant configuration models in the system are “Classic”.
To be able to use the new Fiori based “advanced” variant configuration this should be set up for the model. This can be done in the “Configuration Profile”, where the user can find a new dropdown. please note that all of the dependency objects (Dependency Net, Constraint, Precondition, Selection Condition, Procedure) also have this possibility. Activation of new advanced variant configuration by setting processing mode on level of object dependency.
The engine is supported in processes planned/production order w/o BoM explosion. You can have all kind of dependencies using single-value / multi-valued characteristics with data type with character format or numeric format w/o decimal places, variant tables using single-value characteristics. Additionally, you can set pricing conditions by dependencies and handle default values by dependencies.
A new simulation environment cockpit is available for the variant configuration product modeler. Here, you can view all configurable products, configured objects and save simulations with comprehensive handling of different configurable objects in the same list.
You have a comprehensive configuration screen with side-by-side display of different information where simulation parameters can be changed on the fly and additional information like properties, dependencies, and trace are integral part. The structure panel provides ability to control structure and configuration results, view tree structures and triggering BoM explosion. Here you can view exploded BoM or Super BoM. The side-panel provides different information which support the modelers in analyzing the configuration model, or in solving configuration issues. The Inspector provides additional information about the object in focus (this behavior can be switched off) with possibility for different objects to have different content in the inspector (e.g. characteristics have „values” section). The configuration trace also can be displayed in the side panel. Additionally, the user can easily navigate and drill down inside side-panel content.
The simulation parameters can be changed „on the fly” without leaving configuration. Changing the parameters triggers the reloading of the model. The model reloading also can be triggered directly (e.g. modeler changed some dependencies, and wants to check the effects without leaving the simulation). Modelers can store the actual state of their simulation activities. The saved simulations behave like configured objects (can be searched and selected in the selection screen). This is only available in simulation.
The new simulation environment is triggered as per the settings on the object dependencies.
object dependencies must be flagged for processing mode: “classic” (LO-VC) or “advanced variant configuration”
Low level object dependencies are supposed to be “classic”
For low level dependencies, the processing mode is supposed to be “classic”. As the BoM explosion only considers “classic” dependency knowledge and ignores “advanced” dependency knowledge, wrong data here does not cause problems. Enabling the “consistency check” in the PMEVC will show if there are such ‘mixed’ processing mode situations in the model.
Simulation of “advanced” configuration models cannot be done directly out of the PMEVC for which a “Simulation Environment” has to be used.
Hence, with these capabilities, our customers can now:
- Make faster and more informed decisions on their product portfolio by leveraging real-time analytics for configuration and classification in all related business objects (e.g. sales order, batch, product master)
- Improve their configuration efficiency through a state-of-the-art SAP Fiori user experience and a high-performing configurator based on SAP HANA capabilities
- Streamline their product modeling with advanced configuration simulation capabilities in a comprehensive simulation environment for variant configuration models
With that we are at the end of this blog. I hope you liked today´s insights, watch out for the next use case soon.
All blog posts of this series can be found here
For more information on SAP S/4HANA, check out the following links:
SAP S/4HANA release info: www.sap.com/s4hana