Increase Productivity by Enabling Integrated Batch Management with Suppliers using SAP SNC

  • by Christian Butzlaff, Senior Director, Value Prototyping, SAP
  • V. Krishna Anaparthi, Process Architect, SAP Labs India Pvt. Ltd.
  • February 28, 2013
Manually creating customer batch numbers during the inbound delivery process is a major source of productivity loss. Learn about an enhancement to the SAP ERP system that increases end user productivity through automatic generation of customer batch numbers and characteristic assignment. In addition to increased productivity and faster processing time, the data quality also improves, resulting in easier and better tracing and auditing results.
Key Concept
Imagine a scenario in which a company receives an average of 10 to 12 shipments per day, with each shipment having around eight to 10 batch-managed products. This requires the manual creation of around 100 batches per day. Even if the set of manual activities takes a minimum of four to five minutes per batch (including the assignment of characteristic values), the company ends up spending seven to eight hours a day creating batch numbers.

Two technical enhancements in SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) allow you to automatically create a batch and to populate certain batch characteristics from data that was provided within advanced shipping assignment (ASN) messages. We provide sample code for creating batch master records and for capturing data provided in ASNs as batch characteristic values. It applies to the purchase order (PO) ASN process in Supply Network Collaboration (SNC).

This article requires an understanding of the basic concepts of batch management and traceability as well as the standard processes of PO, goods receipt, and ASN creation.

Companies in the high-tech or pharmaceutical industries are typically required to uniquely identify individual production lots (batches) of the same material. They need to capture the characteristics of these batches and individually track their inventory as well as where-used data. Materials that require such precise identification are typically identified not only by a material number but also by a unique batch identifier, which needs to be specified in every individual transaction. For example, a purchase order will have different line items for each batch being purchased. Providing the material number only is not sufficient. 

Figure 1 shows the standard manual process. The supplier (vendor/manufacturer) sends an ASN to the customer providing the product number, shipping date, quantity, batch number, and other data to characterize the batch. This might be done through SNC, where the supplier can either log on and create the ASN or send an XML message. The ASN is processed and creates an inbound delivery in the back-end ERP system. In a later step a goods receipt is posted against this inbound delivery.

Figure 1
Standard process of delivery collaboration between the buyer and supplier across ECC and SNC systems

Since the ERP system has defined the product as batch managed, a batch number needs to be provided during the goods receipt process. In addition, the batch record should carry additional characteristics, such as a reference to the supplier batch or the manufacturing date. In many instances the batch numbers are not standardized across the supplier base. Therefore the customer will have its own batch number range. The end user manually creates the batch number, links it to the vendor’s batch number, and enters the required characteristics.

Christian Butzlaff

Dr. Christian Butzlaff is responsible for SAP Value Prototyping services at SAP America. Before that he held various positions in the SAP Development Organization. In particular, he was Development Manager for SAP Supply Network Collaboration (SAP SNC). In his current role he works with customers on prototype engagements, for example, in the area of SAP Integrated Business Planning.

Christian holds a PhD from the University of Hamburg, Germany. He is PMI certified and is currently pursuing a specialization in machine learning.


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V. Krishna Anaparthi

V. Krishna Anaparthi has vast experience in the field of enterprise consulting. Playing the roles of project manager and solution architect, he is instrumental in the successful implementation of multiple SAP projects across the consumer goods, pharmaceutical, and high-tech industries. He is currently serving as the process architect at SAP Labs India Pvt. Ltd. and is a part of the SAP Business By Design development team.

Krishna holds an MBA from NITIE, Mumbai, India. He has PMP, CPIM, and CSCP certifications and is proficient in supply chain and project management processes.

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