SAP S/4HANA Transportation Management: Automate Final Delivery of Intermodal Containers using VSR Optimizer
This blog post will help readers to understand how the SAP S/4HANA Transportation Management Planning based on Vehicle Scheduling and Routing (VSR) Optimizer be used to achieve automated despatching of Intermodal Containers for Road Transportation.
Primary use case is for the customers in using SAP Transportation Management in SAP S/4HANA to procure Intermodal Truck Transport Services from Trucking companies. Customers who export or import in volume containerised cargo via Intermodal Transportation.
I have come across such requirements on several occasions, where customer implementing SAP Transportation Management only take care of specific leg of Transport and would like to have the process automated.
Consider a customer (LSP/Freight Forwarder) who facilitating the delivery of imported Containerized cargo to the consignee. Cargo (Intermodal containers) arrive via Sea and are moved inland via Rail and arrive at Rail Terminals. It is expected that those containers quickly get loaded on to the Trucks and delivered to the consignee.
Such customer (LSP/Freight Forwarder) would like to implement SAP Transportation Management and use the Planning functionalities to automate the move of the Intermodal Containers from Rail Terminal to the Consignee.
It is important to note that such LSP/Freight Forwarder usually rely heavily on the Intermodal Trucking Companies who are specialized to handle the Intermodal Containers from the aspect of Loading and Unloading of such containers.
Note: I have demonstrated the functionality in this blog post using system screen images with relevant data for ease of understanding for the readers. It should be noted that these screens and the data is from SAP’s internal test systems and has no relation to any external source.
System Set-up: I would not get into the details of setting up all aspects of this scenario as it is expected that the necessary setup is in place to identify the Transport Demand (Container Unit with Cargo as Freight unit) and Procured Capacity (in the form of pre-booked Freight Orders)
It is also assumed that in order to use the VSR Planning the locations involved (Rail Terminal, Consignee, Truck Depot etc.) are all connected with the relevant Means-of-Transport (MTRs)
It is also assumed that Transportation Cockpit is properly setup with the Page Layout, Selection and Planning Profiles.
Business Constraints: One Truck can carry 1 Intermodal Container. One Freight Order represents the pre-booked capacity representing 1 Intermodal Container.
Business expectation is that system is able to assign each container to one existing freight order automatically, and user will not use any drag-drop, command line assignment feature being labor intensive. Also system is not supposed to create new Freight Orders as Freight orders are already created and have confirmed pre-booked capacity.
Below I have done a similar setup to represent the scenario and you would notice that system is automatically planning the “Delivery” leg of the Intermodal Container on an existing Freight Order which eventually has to be returned to a Truck depot after delivering the container to the Consignee location.
Transportation Cockpit is only selecting the Delivery Stage of the Container Unit and Existing Unplanned Freight Orders. Planning Profile has the minimum needed settings for VSR. Page layout gives a better visualisation of the data in the cockpit
You can see below the Container units (delivery stage 40 only) which are unplanned (Execution Document column is empty)
Below you can see the existing Freight Orders (as pre-booked capacity documents) available for consumption.
Container Unit is doing end-to-end journey and so has all the previous legs of Transport. But we are now focused only on the Final Delivery Stage. You can also see that Cargo (Freight unit originating from the forwarding order is linked to the stage)
Freight Order has stage sequence where the vehicle is returning to a Truck Depot after delivering the container to the Customer location.
Now we select the Container Units and Freight Orders and initiate the Planning Run.
As a result you can see that VSR has consumed the existing Freight Order as capacity and assigned one to one to the container units. This is visible from the Execution Document column.
Also the Freight Order Capacity Utilisation is correctly getting updated.
Customers sometimes have some very simple and straight forward problems, which if the application is able to address results in huge productivity gains. As described above the entire delivery of the container can thus be automated.
Happy Reading and Feedback is welcome !!!