How to Accelerate Your Inventory Sorting Using Batch Search Strategy

  • by Patrick Imhen, Business Analyst and Senior SAP MM/SD/PM Functional Consultant, ZOCODE Limited
  • October 25, 2017
Discover how to set up and use a batch search strategy to accelerate inventory sorting with business scenarios. Learn certain precautions to take while implementing the use of batch search strategy functionality.
Key Concept
The SAP system has provided a system strategy to efficiently sort materials or product batches in inventory using batch search strategy functionality. Using this functionality helps organizations speed up the time taken in inventory sorting of batch items. Batch search strategy is a functionality within Batch Management in SAP Logistics (Logistics General).

Some organizations have business requirements to use batch management within their SAP systems for effective tracking of their inventory. They use it to ensure proper visibility of goods movements for several purposes, including the need to differentiate products based on their production or manufacturing dates and monitor their expiration dates. Batch Management could also be used based on a legal requirement, such as recalling of a product, tracing a defect, monitoring material shelf life, or identifying a customized product based on customers’ specifications. For these organizations, batch management is a vital part of their inventory management, sales and distribution, production, and warehouse management. My focus is on batch search strategy in inventory management business transactions.

It is a cumbersome task for organizations to search for material or product batches in inventory under any required circumstance. SAP has provided a way to accelerate the search for batch items in inventory using the batch search strategy.

I show you how I set up and used batch search strategy for different business requirements in SAP Inventory Management. I include step-by-step configuration instructions and explain how to use selection criteria and sort rules. Note that knowledge of batch management and determination is a prerequisite to effectively implementing a batch search strategy.

Relevant Business Scenarios for Batch Search Strategy in Inventory Management

Batch search strategy is part of the batch determination process used to define how the SAP system can best search and identify a batch or batches of material or product given defined criteria. The strategy is used to define parameters that give better control to the criteria to search for material batch or batches in inventory management.

Imagine that you have to deal with hundreds of material batches daily in your inventory and that you are trying to identify and appropriately apportion them to the right business transaction. It will be a time-consuming task with several mistakes. Facilitating this business challenge with a batch search strategy saves more time for identifying material batches and saves the cost incurred for misappropriating material batches to business transactions. This is very important for organizations that manage sensitive material in their inventory. Batch search strategy is applied for different business requirements based on the business scenario and probably the industry type. I now walk you through some business scenarios and explain how batch search strategy applies to them.

First in, first out (FIFO): An organization desires that certain consumable batch materials used for their internal operations should be issued from the store to cost centers based on the date of goods receipt. They require that batches received first are issued first to avoid spoilage due to the short shelf life. In this case the sorting parameter to be used in the search strategy is goods receipt or delivery date in a FIFO sort rule.

Grade classification: In this scenario, an organization usually procures a raw material that is used internally for servicing its customers. The organization uses a central purchasing department and so procurement is done centrally in the central plant. Although some of the batches of the material of higher grade are used within the central plant, batches with a slightly lesser grade are sent to other plants in other regions due to the purchasing power of their clients in the regions. This organization had a requirement to easily identify and appropriate the different batch grades of the material. In this case, the sorting strategy should be set up to sort the relevant batch based on color classification.

Last in, first out (LIFO): The LIFO method of inventory management is no longer a popular practice because of its controversial impact in accounting. In the regions dominated by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), such as Canada, India, and the member states of the European Union, there is a restriction on the use of LIFO. Nevertheless, companies in the US and regions using the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) accounting principle still use this inventory method. LIFO means the last received materials are issued from inventory first. This happens when an organization tends to take advantage of an unstable price situation. To achieve a LIFO scenario, the sort rule has to be set as descending while using a date of goods receipt or delivery as a selection criterion.

These scenarios can go on and on depending on the business requirement.

Batch Determination with Step-by-Step Configuration of Selection Criteria and Sort Rules

Batch search strategy is a part of batch determination. Batch determination is a holistic process technique that the SAP system uses based on defined criteria to determine appropriate batches for business transactions.

In SAP Inventory Management, batch determination is achieved by setting up relevant elements and procedures so that when relevant business transactions are called up, the SAP system using these set parameters locates the suitable batch or batches as required.

Some of the elements relevant for the setup of batch determination are:

Access sequence: In this technique, the system accesses condition tables during batch determination. The condition table is where the field combinations used for the search strategy are defined. In the SAP system, numbers 0–500 are standard tables and are not editable. Tables 20–29 are reserved for inventory management. If the standard tables available do not suit your business requirement, you can create a user-defined table. The tables are assigned to an access sequence based on the business need. There are standard access sequences that I show you for better clarity even though this article is about setting up batch search strategy. Access sequence is part of batch determination and a prerequisite for batch search strategy.

To check for the access sequence to use for batch determination in inventory management, use transaction code OMCX or follow the SAP IMG path Logistics-General > Batch Management > Batch Determination and Batch Check > Access Sequences > Define Inventory Management Access Sequences. Click the execute icon beside Define Inventory Management Access Sequences. This action displays the screen in Figure 1.


Figure 1
The list of access sequences defined in the system

Note
Changes made to access sequence are cross-client; therefore, they affect the whole client.

In Figure 1 you see the different access sequences defined in the system. For my example, use access sequence ME01 (MovType/Plant/Material). This is the key combination you use to set up the batch search strategy later in this article; it is a combination of the movement type, plant, and material fields.

To check the accesses available in the access sequence ME01, click the display<->change icon in Figure 1, and then in the Overview Access Sequence section, select the ME01 sequence and expand the Access sequences folder. Click the Accesses folder in the left pane. The system then opens the Accesses Overview screen. You can see the different accesses or field combination tables available in access sequence ME01 as shown in Figure 2. For my example, you use the first access (10) with condition table 24 (Movement Type/Plant/Material) later in this article.


Figure 2
Select access 10 from the list of access sequences for ME01

To further probe to verify the field combination in the condition table 24 (Movement Type/Plant/Material), expand the Accesses folder, select access 10, and click the Fields folder on the left pane (Figure 2). Figure 3 shows the fields in condition table 24 that make up the first access field combination.


Figure 3
Fields available in condition table 24

Next, the chosen access sequence is assigned to a strategy type to determine the key combination for the strategy type.

Strategy type: The Strategy type, like the Condition type in price determination, is the major object that defines the characteristics of a batch determination. These characteristics include the Sort rule, Maximum number of batch splits, and whether the number of batch splits can be changed during batch determination.

The strategy type can be used to configure how the unit of measure of batched items is to be displayed during a batch search. It could be set for a batch searched item to display in the unit of entry (the unit of measure in the purchase order) or in the stock keeping unit (SKU), the unit of measure used in the store. Also the strategy type can be used to configure if the batch determination needs to be performed in dialog mode (run in foreground) and the quantity proposal.

To check for the strategy type for inventory management use transaction code OMCW or follow SAP IMG menu path Logistics-General > Batch Management > Batch Determination and Batch Check > Strategy Types > Define Inventory Management Strategy Types. Click the execute icon beside Define Inventory Management Strategy Types.

After you click Define Inventory Management Strategy Types, the system opens the screen in Figure 4. In this screen you see the list of different strategy types. For my example, use strategy type ME01 (MovType/Plnt/MatlNo) because it has the access sequence that contains the field combination you need.


Figure 4
Select a strategy type

Select the strategy type and click the details icon (the magnifying glass) to see details of the strategy type in Figure 5.


Figure 5
Strategy type ME01 details

Figure 5 shows that Access sequence ME01 (MovType/Plant/Material) is assigned to this strategy type ME01 (MovType/Plnt/MatlNo). This screen also shows that class type 23 (for batch) is assigned. The Class and Sort sequence fields are left blank. I recommend leaving these two fields blank to allow flexibility in assigning different classes and sort rules during the creation of the batch search strategy. Another vital setting is the No. (number) of splits field in the Batch split section. For my example, this setting is 5. Note, however, that when you select the Changes allowed check box, the number of splits can be changed when you are setting up the batch search strategy.

Batch Search Procedure Definition: The system uses this defined procedure to search for strategy records based on how the strategy type is assigned here. This setting is a prerequisite for a batch search strategy.

To check for the defined search procedure for inventory management use transaction code OMCY or follow SAP IMG menu path Logistics-General > Batch Management > Batch Determination and Batch Check > Batch Search Procedure Definition > Define Inventory Management Search Procedure. Click the execute icon beside Define Inventory Management Search Procedure to display the screen in Figure 6.


Figure 6
The list of procedures

In Figure 6 you see the list of different procedures. For my example, use procedure ME0001 (Standard Search Procedure) because it contains the strategy type that has the access sequence that contains the field combination you need. You can now see how they all link.

To verify if the required strategy type ME01 (MovType/Plnt/MatlNo) is assigned in procedure ME0001, select it and click the Control data folder. The system then shows that the strategy type ME01 (MovType/Plnt/MatlNo) is assigned to procedure ME0001 (Figure 7).


Figure 7
List of strategy types assigned to procedure ME0001

Batch Search Procedure Allocation and Check Activation: The defined search procedures are assigned to suitable business transactions based on requirements such as Transfer posting or Goods issue to Cost center. This step is a prerequisite for batch search strategy.

For batch search strategy to work in a business transaction, the batch determination procedure needs to be assigned to that business transaction. For instance, check if the procedure ME0001 is assigned to movement type 201 (Goods issue to cost center).

To complete this step, use transaction code OMCG or follow SAP IMG menu path Logistics-General > Batch Management > Batch Determination and Batch Check > Batch Search Procedure Allocation and Check Activation > Allocate IM Search Procedure/Activate Check. Click the execute icon beside Allocate IM Search Procedure/Activate Check.

After you click Allocate IM Search Procedure/Activate Check, the system displays a screen with a list of the various movement types in inventory management (Figure 8). In Figure 8, you can see that the procedure ME0001 is assigned to the movement type 201 for goods issue to cost center business transactions.


Figure 8
Assigned search procedure to movement types

Note also that the selection classes and sort rules should have been defined. Selection classes are used to define the characteristics by which a batch is to be selected. The sorting rules, on the other hand, control how a batch is to be sorted.

I focus on the setting up and application of batch search strategy, so now let me walk you through the steps to define selection classes and sort rules.

The selection classes and sort rule use characteristics (defined parameters used to set the basis for the classification or sorting) as control parameters to determine how a batch item with a batch search strategy is selected in a batch determination procedure. Although SAP recommends the use of standard characteristics, especially for settings such as Delivery date (LOBM_LFDAT), Expiration/Shelf-life (LOMB_VFDAT), Remaining shelf life (LOBM_RLZ), Availability date (LOBM_VERAB), and Valuation type (LOBM_BWTAR), you can also create user-defined characteristics. Note that the characteristics LOBM_RLZ and LOBM_LFDAT are not used for the batch classification; they are only applicable for use in selection criteria.

Warning
Do not use a Valuation type (LOBM_BWTAR) characteristic if your batch is activated at the material level, as this characteristic is relevant only when the batch is activated at the plant level.

In the example below, I show you how to display a standard characteristic.

To create, change, or display a characteristic use transaction code CT04 or follow menu path Logistics > Central Functions > Batch Management > Batch Determination > Selection and Sort. Under Selection and Sort click the CT04 – Characteristics Management node to display the Characteristics screen (Figure 9).


Figure 9
Create, change, or display a characteristic

To create a new characteristic, you input the user-defined alphanumeric code in the Characteristic field and click the create icon . To change or display an existing characteristic, click the selection list icon  in the Characteristic field to select an existing characteristic from a drop-down list of options. After you select the characteristic, you can click the change icon (the pencil) to change it or the display icon (the glasses) to view it.

For my example, display standard characteristic LOBM_LFDAT for the batch determination delivery date. Enter LOBM_LFDAT in the Characteristic field and click the display icon (Figure 10).


Figure 10
Display characteristic LOBM_LFDAT

The system now displays the Basic data tab in which you can view the characteristic’s Description, Status, and Data Type (Figure 11).


Figure 11
Display the characteristic’s details in the Basic data tab

Now click the Descriptions tab in which you have the assigned languages for the characteristic (Figure 12).


Figure 12
Select the Descriptions tab

Next, click the Addnl data (Additional data) tab. Here you have the specified Table Name and Field Name for the characteristic (Figure 13).


Figure 13
Select the Addnl data tab

Warning
This assignment is very important. If you use a wrong specification of the table name or an incorrect field name when creating a characteristic, the sorting does not work.

The Values Tab is only relevant if you need to assign a default value or values for the characteristic. This may not be necessary except when the business requirement specifically demands that a value be assigned to the characteristic. You may also want to restrict the use of this characteristic to a class type by assigning a class type under the Restrictions tab.

Note
Only create a new characteristic if existing ones do not meet your business requirement.

Now, I explain how to create a selection class. To create a selection class use transaction code BMC1 or follow menu path Logistics > Central Functions > Batch Management > Batch Determination > Selection and Sort > Selection Class. Under Selection Class click the BMC1 – Create node to display the Create Class screen (Figure 14).


Figure 14
Create a selection class

Just as you did when creating characteristics, enter a user-defined code for the Class and select a Class type (e.g., 023 for batch management). Click the create icon.

After you click the create icon, the system displays the Basic Data tab (Figure 15). In the Description field enter the name for the class, and in the Status field ensure that the Status is set to Released (the default setting is usually Released). If there will be a limited date for the class, you can do that with the Valid from and Valid to dates.


Figure 15
Populate fields in the Basic Data tab

Next, select the Char. (characteristics) tab and assign a relevant characteristic or characteristics as defined in the Characteristics Management (where the characteristics were defined) as shown in Figure 16.


Figure 16
Assign a characteristic in the Char. tab

After you assign the characteristics, save the class by clicking the save icon (the disk). You then see the following message on the status bar: Class type 023: Class ZSC_02 created.

Now I show you how to create a sort rule. To create a sort rule use transaction code CU70 or follow menu path Logistics > Central Functions > Batch Management > Batch Determination > Selection and Sort > Sort Rule. Under Sort Rule, click the CU70 – Create node to display the Create Sort sequence screen (Figure 17). In the Sort sequence field enter a user-defined code (e.g., ZSS_01), click the enter icon (the green checkmark), or press the Enter key on your keyboard. Alternatively, you can also click the header icon (the hat).


Figure 17
Create a sort sequence

The system then opens the screen in Figure 18 in which you enter the name of the sort sequence in the Sort sequence field. In the Status field ensure that the status is set to Released (it is usually set by default). Click the Characteristics button on the Application tool bar to assign the required characteristic or characteristics.


Figure 18
Define the sort sequence and status

After you click the Characteristics button, the system displays the screen in Figure 19. In this screen, select the required characteristics and select the Ascending or Descending check boxes based on how the sorting should be done. For a FIFO business scenario, select the Ascending check box, whereas for a LIFO scenario, select the Descending check box.


Figure 19
Select options for required characteristics based on scenarios

After you assign the characteristics, save the sort sequence by clicking the save icon. You then see the following message on the status bar: Creating Sort sequence ZSS_01.

Note that you can also create the selection class and sort rule via the SAP IMG.

How I Set Up Batch Search Strategy for Different Business Requirements

To optimize batch searching in inventory sorting, the batch search strategy needs to be set up as part of the batch determination. To set up a batch search strategy, suitable access sequences must have been defined from a condition table based on the business requirement. This may only be necessary if the standard access sequences do not meet the business requirement. Strategy types also need to be defined and assigned to a defined search procedure. The search procedure would have been assigned to the relevant movement types in inventory management. A batch must be defined for the materials relevant for batch determination. The batch management check box must be selected in the purchasing view of the material master record of the material.

Another precaution you should take when implementing batch search strategy, especially in mass upload, is to ensure that the characteristics being used for the selection classes match with the material batch class. Take an extra effort to do a perfect matching; otherwise, you may run into a situation in which the batch search strategy does not work. Make your batch search strategy as simple as possible.

For batch splitting, splitting should be allowed only if batches use the same characteristics for selection. This type of configuration helps reduce complexity in the strategy. Also assign only relevant characteristics to a selection class.

In the next section I demonstrate how I set up batch search strategy for some business scenarios such as stock transfer from plant to plant, goods issue to a cost center, and transfer posting from quality inspection to unrestricted use stock type.

Batch Search Strategy 1 (Stock Transfer from Plant to Plant)

In a business requirement, an organization usually procures a raw material that is used internally for servicing its customers and for production. The organization uses a central purchasing organization and so procurement is done centrally in the central plant. One of the batches with 88 percent color concentration class is usually transferred to another plant for production, while the other batch is used in the central plant to service the organization’s customers. With a suitable search strategy, the relevant batched items are determined and sorted. This process helps to eliminate the mistake of using a batch for a wrong movement type. The amount of time for sorting is minimized because the system sorts and indicates the correct batch based on the defined search strategy.

To set up a batch strategy for the above business scenario, use transaction code MBC1 or follow menu path Logistics > Central Functions > Batch Management > Batch Determination > Batch Search Strategy > For Inventory Management. Under For Inventory Management, click the MBC1 – Create node to display the screen in Figure 20. Select the Strategy type and click the Key combination button.


Figure 20
Create a batch search strategy

Now you have to select the suitable key combination as proposed from the access sequence in the strategy type for the batch search strategy. Figure 21 shows that the Key Combination of MovType/Plnt/MatlNo (Movement Type/Plant/Material Number) is selected for this batch search strategy. This data implies that the sorting becomes effective once the assigned movement type, plant, and material number are matched in the inventory transaction.


Figure 21
Select a Key Combination

After selecting the MovType/Plnt/MatlNo Key Combination option, click the enter icon to move to the next screen (Figure 22).


Figure 22
Set up the batch search strategy for plant-to-plant transfer posting
 

Warning
If you have to create a user-defined key combination in the condition table, ensure that you appropriately choose the fields based on a search principle. The field sequence should start with the most general field and end with the most specific field. Consider, for instance, the key combination you selected in Figure 21. In this key combination movement type is a more general criterion than plant. You can have several plants with the movement type and you can have several materials in a plant, so material is the most specific.

In Figure 22, Movement Type 301 (transfer posting from plant to plant), Plant 0099 (Plant [South]), and Material number N000ZX (red coloring powder) have been assigned, respectively. Note also that the number of batch splitting (N) allowed is 1.

Warning
If you do not want to allow batch splitting in the batch search strategy, assign 1 to the allowed number of batch splitting because assigning 0 or a blank space indicates that there is no limit to the batch split during inventory sorting and yields an undesirable result.

Now you need to set up the selection criteria to use to classify the search. To open the Selection criteria screen, click the Selection criteria button in the Application tool bar or follow menu path Goto > Selection criteria from the menu bar. This action displays the screen in Figure 23.


Figure 23
Set up selection criteria for plant-to-plant transfer posting

In Figure 23, assign the class that has the appropriate characteristics suitable for the search strategy selection criterion. In this case, the percentage of color concentration with value 88 percent is used as a major criterion for the search strategy selection as shown in Figure 23. This data implies that when a plant-to-plant transfer posting is done for this material N000ZX (red coloring powder) in Plant 0099 (Plant [South]), the inventory selects the material N000ZX (red coloring powder) batch with 88 percent color concentration.

After setting up the search criteria, click the back icon  on the standard tool bar to return to the Fast Entry screen (Figure 22).

Click the Sort button. This action displays the screen in Figure 24 in which you set up the sorting rule to determine how the sorting technique is executed. The sorting rule can be in an ascending order (usually used for a FIFO scenario) or a descending order (usually used for a LIFO scenario). For my example, you assign an ascending sort rule ZSS_01 (GR/Delivery Date) with a standard characteristic LOBM_LFDAT based on the business requirement as shown in Figure 24.


Figure 24
Set up a sort rule for plant-to-plant transfer posting

After setting up the sort rule, click the save icon to save the condition record for the batch search strategy. This search strategy is applicable in a business transaction to transfer material N000ZX (red coloring powder) from plant 0099 using movement type 301 (plant-to-plant transfer posting).

Batch Search Strategy 2 (Goods Receipt to Cost Center)

The same material N000ZX (red coloring powder) with another batch of higher color concentration of 95 percent is usually issued to a cost center for servicing customers. Therefore, a search strategy also needs to be used to sort this batch so that the system does not pick batches with another color concentration during an inventory search for this business transaction. Inventory sorting is accelerated and mistakes that can cause unnecessary costs are avoided.

To create the batch search strategy for goods issue of material N000ZX (red coloring powder) with 95 percent color concentration to a cost center, repeat the steps outlined in the instructions before Figures 20 and 21 in the “Batch Search Strategy 1 (Stock Transfer from Plant to Plant)” section.

In the Fast Entry screen (Figure 25), enter 201 (goods issue to cost center) in the Movement Type field, 0099 in the Plant field for Plant (South). In the field under the Material column, Material number enter N000ZX (red coloring powder). This time, you can limit the batch split number (the N column) to 2.


Figure 25
Set up batch search strategy for goods issue to cost center

The next step is to set up the selection criteria to use to classify the search. To open the Selection criteria screen, click the Selection criteria button in Figure 25 or follow menu path Goto > Selection criteria from the menu bar. This action opens the screen in Figure 26.


Figure 26
Set up selection criteria for goods issue to cost center

In Figure 26, assign the same class ZSC_02 (GR/Delivery Date/Color Quality) used in the previous example, but this time with a value of 95 percent color concentration. This configuration implies that when a goods issue to a cost center is done for this material N000ZX (red coloring powder) in Plant 0099 (Plant [South]), the inventory selects the material N000ZX (red coloring powder) batch with 95 percent color concentration.

After setting up the search criteria, click the back icon on the standard tool bar to return to the Fast Entry screen (Figure 25). In the Fast Entry screen click the Sort button to set up the sorting rule. In this example, use the same sorting rule ZSS_01 (GR/Delivery Date) used in the previous example (Figure 27).


Figure 27
Set up a sorting rule for goods issue to a cost center

After setting up the sort rule, click the save icon to save the condition record for the batch search strategy. This search strategy becomes applicable in a business transaction to issue material N000ZX (red coloring powder) to a cost center in plant 0099 using movement type 201 (goods issue to cost center).

Batch Search Strategy 3 (Transfer Posting from Quality Inspection to Unrestricted Use Stock Type)

In this scenario, an organization usually receives the batches of a particular material to quality inspection stock type. After quality inspection, the material is posted from quality inspection stock type to unrestricted use stock type using movement type 321 (transfer posting from quality inspection to unrestricted use). The posting of the material from quality inspection to unrestricted use stock type is done strictly in batches on a FIFO basis according to their goods receipt posting date.

To realize this business requirement in the SAP system batch determination process, an appropriate batch search strategy needs to be set up to ensure that only one batch is selected per search based on the goods receipt date. To set up the batch search strategy repeat the steps in the instructions before Figures 20 and 21 in the “Batch Search Strategy 1 (Stock Transfer from Plant to Plant)” section.

In the Fast Entry screen, enter the Movement Type 321 (transfer posting from quality inspection to unrestricted use), Plant 0099 (Plant [South]), and Material number TAT-00909 (Catalyst [Zinc]) as shown in Figure 28. To ensure that there is no batch split is allowed so that the search picks only one batch per search, limit the batch split number (the N column) to 1.


Figure 28
Set up a batch search strategy for transfer posting from quality inspection to unrestricted use
 

The next step is to set up the selection criteria to use to classify the search. To open the Selection criteria screen, click the Selection criteria button in the application tool bar or follow menu path Goto > Selection criteria from the menu bar. This action opens the screen in Figure 29.


Figure 29
Set up selection criteria for transfer posting from quality inspection to unrestricted use

In Figure 29, you assign a different class this time, ZX_01 (GR/Delivery Date), with a different characteristic. This configuration implies that when material TAT-00909 (catalyst [zinc]) is transferred from quality inspection to unrestricted use stock type in plant 0099 (Plant [South]) using movement type 321, the inventory selects only one batch of the material based on the goods receipt posting date. Next, use the sort rule to make the system select on the basis of FIFO so that the older goods receipt date is considered first.

After you set up the search criteria, click the back icon on the standard tool bar to return to the Fast Entry screen (refer back to Figure 28). Then click the Sort button to set up the sort rule in the next screen (Figure 30). In this example, use the same sort rule ZX_01 (Delivery Date) in ascending order that is FIFO.


Figure 30
Set up a sort rule for transfer posting from quality inspection to unrestricted use

After setting up the sort rule, save the condition record for the batch search strategy by clicking the save icon. This search strategy becomes applicable in a business transaction in which material TAT-00909 (catalyst [zinc]) is transferred from quality inspection to unrestricted use stock type in plant 0099 using movement type 321 (transfer posting from quality inspection to unrestricted use).

There are more inventory management scenarios in which the batch search strategy can be applicable, such as goods issue for sample, goods issue to scrapping, and consignment to own stock. In the next section, I demonstrate how the above defined search strategies apply to business transactions.

Application of Batch Search Strategy in Business Transactions

Starting from the first batch search strategy, I explain how this scenario applies to a plant-to- plant stock transfer.

Stock transfer from plant-to-plant scenario: To test the batch search strategy 1 business scenario, I explain how to do a stock transfer of material N000ZX (red coloring powder) from plant 0099 (Plant [South]) to plant 1100 (Plant [East]).

To carry out a plant-to-plant stock transfer use transaction code MB1B or follow menu path Logistics > Materials Management > Inventory Management > Goods Movement. Under Goods Movement, click the MB1B – Transfer Posting node to display the screen in Figure 31.


Figure 31
Enter details for the transfer posting

Populate the Movement Type (301), Plant (0099), and Storage Location (0001) fields as shown in Figure 31. Click the enter icon (not shown).

After you click the enter icon, the screen in Figure 32 opens. In Figure 32, enter the receiving plant, storage location, material number, and quantity to be transferred. Enter * in the field under the Batch column. The asterisk queries the system to determine the appropriate batch of this material for this transaction using the batch search strategy.


Figure 32
Transfer posting item overview

After you input * in the field under the Batch column and click the enter icon or press the Enter key on your keyboard, the system proposes the determined batch based on the search strategy. In this case, batch 0000000371 was selected as shown in Figure 33.


Figure 33
Batch selection for 30DR based on the defined batch search strategy 1

Note in Figure 33 that the available quantity in batch 0000000371 of material N000ZX (red coloring powder) in plant 0099 is 20 DR, where DR stands for the unit of measure drum. Now because the required quantity 30 DR to be transferred is more than the available quantity, 10 DR are left as open quantity (unfulfilled quantity) even though there are other batches of this same material. This is because batch splitting is not allowed in the batch search strategy. If batch splitting were allowed, the system would have taken the remaining 10 drums from another batch of the same selection criteria characteristics value (88 percent color concentration).

Figure 34 shows reduced quantity to 12 DR. To reduce the quantity, click the back icon to go back to the item overview screen in Figure 32. After the quantity reduction, repeat the step described in the instructions before Figure 33.


Figure 34
Batch selection for 12DR based on the defined batch search strategy 1

The result of the batch determination in Figures 33 and 34 implies that it was only batch 0000000371 that matched the selection criterion of 88 percent color concentration. You can further verify this by checking the log. Click the Log button in the application tool bar to see how the strategy worked (Figure 34). After you click the Log button, the Selection Log Level screen appears (Figure 35).


Figure 35
The log for the selection criteria

To verify the selection criteria in the batch strategy that was used to determine the batch number click the Selection criteria button (refer back to Figure 34). After you click the Selection criteria button, the screen in Figure 36 appears.


Figure 36
Verify the parameters

After verifying the selection parameters, click the copy icon in the application tool bar to adopt the batch number. The system takes you back to the item overview screen (Figure 37).


Figure 37
The item overview screen with an assigned batch

Finally, post the stock transfer by clicking the post icon (the disk). (Note that this icon is also used as a save icon in some other applications.)

Goods Issue to Cost Center: To test the batch search strategy 2 business scenario, I show you how to do a goods issue of the same material N000ZX (red coloring powder) to a cost center in plant 0099 (Plant [South]).

To issue material N000ZX (red coloring powder) to a cost center use transaction code MB1A or follow menu path Logistics > Materials Management > Inventory Management > Goods Movement. Under Goods Movement click the MB1A – Goods Issue node to open the screen in Figure 38.


Figure 38
Populate the fields in the Enter Goods Issue: Initial Screen

Enter movement type 201, plant 0099, and storage location 0001 as shown in Figure 38. Click the enter icon.

After you click the enter icon, the screen in Figure 39 opens. Enter the cost center (in this case use 3120), material number, and quantity to be issued. Enter * in the field under the Batch column. The asterisk queries the system to determine the appropriate batch of this material for this transaction using the batch search strategy.


Figure 39
Item overview for goods issue

After you input * in the Batch field and click the enter icon or press the Enter key on your keyboard, the system proposes the determined batch based on the search strategy. In this case, batches 0000000370 and 0000000370 were selected as shown in Figure 40. In this determination, batch 0000000371 was not selected because this transaction is based on a selection criterion with 95 percent color concentration within the batch search strategy, and so batch 0000000371 does not match.


Figure 40
Batch selection for 30DR based on the defined batch search strategy 2

Also note in Figure 40 that the available quantity of batch 0000000370 is 20 DR, which is less than the required quantity, but the remaining 10 drums are taken from the other batch 0000000375. This is because batch splitting is allowed. This is how batch splitting works based on the number of splits allowed as assigned in the batch search strategy. Another thing to note is that batch 0000000370 is considered before batch 0000000375, which is the effect of the sort rule. The ascending rule for date of delivery is used for the sorting based on the assigned sort rule in the batch search strategy; that means that the system considers the earlier batch first (FIFO). To make the sorting work the other way (i.e., LIFO), change the ascending rule to descending in the sort rule (see Figure 19 for reference) and batch 0000000375 is then considered first.

Figure 41 shows that the quantity is reduced to 10 DR. Note that batch 0000000370 is considered first based on the sort rule for date of delivery. To reduce the quantity, click the back icon to go back to the item overview screen in Figure 39. After the quantity reduction, repeat the step described in the instructions before Figure 40.


Figure 41
Batch selection for 10DR based on the defined batch search strategy 2

Next, click the copy icon in the application tool bar to adopt the batch number. The system then takes you back to the item overview screen. Finally, post the goods issue by clicking the post icon (Figure 42).


Figure 42
The item overview screen with an assigned batch

After you have posted the goods issue, the system displays the message: Document 4900000234 posted.

Transfer Posting from Quality Inspection to Unrestricted Use Stock Type: To test the batch search strategy 3 business scenario, I show you how to carry out a transfer posting of material TAT-00909 (catalyst [zinc]) from quality inspection to unrestricted use stock type in plant 0099.

To complete this step, use transaction code MB1B or follow menu path Logistics > Materials Management > Inventory Management > Goods Movement. Under Good Movement click the MB1B – Transfer Posting node to display the screen in Figure 43.


Figure 43
Enter details for transfer posting

Enter movement type 321, plant 0099, and storage location 0001 as shown in Figure 43. Click the enter icon to save your entries.

When you click the enter icon, the Items overview screen opens (Figure 44). Enter the storage location, material number, and quantity to be transferred from quality inspection to unrestricted use. Enter * in the field under the Batch column. The asterisk queries the system to determine the appropriate batch of this material for this transaction using the batch search strategy.


Figure 44
Populate fields in the Transfer Posting items overview screen

After you input * in the field under the Batch column and click the enter icon or press the Enter key on your keyboard, the system proposes the determined batch based on the search strategy. In this case, batch 0000000376 is selected first based on the sort rule ascending or for date of delivery (Figure 45).


Figure 45
Batch selection based on the defined batch search strategy 3

Next, click the copy icon in the application tool bar to adopt the batch number. The system takes you back to the item overview screen. Finally, post the goods issue by clicking the post icon (Figure 46).


Figure 46
The Items Overview screen with an assigned batch

After you have posted the goods issue, the system displays the following message: document 4900000244 posted.

Batch search strategy speeds up the time taken to sort material batches in inventory and can eliminate mistakes due to a batch mix-match. I also encourage you to pay attention to some of the precautions I stated to avoid errors in implementing a batch search strategy.

Patrick Imhen

Patrick Imhen is a business analyst and a certified SAP ERP consultant with proficient knowledge, skills, and experience in Materials Management (MM), Sales and Distribution (SD) and Plant Maintenance (PM) gathered from successful SAP implementations projects, support, training, business process analysis, modeling, unit testing, and integration testing. He has profound understanding of the supply chain process across industries and helps organizations cut the cost of operation and improve process optimization. He has more than 10 years’ experience in the business environment and six years’ experience in the SAP domain.

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You may contact the author at patrick.imhen@zocoderesources.com.

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