Supply Chain Traceability

How does SAP Event Management enhance SAP Transportation Management functionality?

SAP Event Management (EM) within SAP Transportation Management (TM) monitors the execution of the transportation processes as it occurs against the transportation plan. For example in SAP TM we have the following objects that we would like to track:

  • Freight and Forwarding Orders
  • Freight Booking
  • Freight Units
  • Instructions
  • Equipment

These relevant objects or transactions are compiled in to a comprehensive transportation plan by the transportation planner. The planner tenders the freight to carriers and manages the end-to-end tendering process; they assign the relevant freight units and equipment to orders; they manage freight bookings all to ensure that the products reach the correct destination in the allotted time at the least cost with the most efficient utilization of the available resources… The perfect transport order…

Once the plan is in execution mode (i.e. the order is in motion to be delivered) how do we then know that this plan is being followed correctly as it was laid out? With many external partners coming in to play from manufacturers, distributors, freight forwarders, customs officials to carriers, how can we pick up a disruption in the transportation execution process in time to take corrective action? This is where SAP Event Management comes in to play…

It receives events as and when they occur in the transportation execution process that allows it to compare the actual execution data with the corresponding transportation plan. If there is a discrepancy then corrective action can be taken in a timely fashion. “Time to Insight” is key to ultimately delivering better customer service here. I.e. How much time occurs between when an issue arises and when I am made aware of the issue.

One key point to note here, if it isn’t plainly obvious already, is that we rely heavily on receiving notification of these transportation / supply chain events from our partners. It is absolutely critical to receive these supply chain events in full (i.e. all relevant events), in time (as soon as possible) and accurately (no good if the data is bad!).

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The ability to immediately be made aware of a disruption in your transportation process is invaluable to be able to provide corrective action or, if this is not possible, reset expectations with your customer, thus enhancing your customer satisfaction experience. The key here is being able to provide concise, correct and timely transportation status updates to your customer as it relates to their order.

It doesn’t stop there though. Once the transportation process is completed and you send the data off to SAP BW or SAP HANA Analytics for analysis, you can review trends to see if your transportation plan is as effective as it can be by reviewing carrier performance, delay / damage events, out of delivery window compliance issues and more… I.e. You have a definitive way to measure and improve your business and, if you make any changes to the process or data driving the process, then you can analyze the effects of the change to see if the desired benefit was achieved or not. Manage and optimize with your eyes wide open as apposed to guessing!

SAP Event Management comes with pre-delivered content (visibility processes) to help with the implementation process of SAP Event Management and in particular with SAP EM for SAP TM processes. Examples of delivered SAP EM visibility processes include:

  • Fulfillment visibility process – Outbound and Inbound Delivery (Typically extended to include EDI transaction visibility)
  • Transportation visibility process – Freight Orders and Freight Units (Could be extended to include trip route compliance and driver compliance tracking
  • Procurement visibility process (Typically extended to include EDI transaction and transportation / carrier tracking visibility) – Leads to better inbound delivery visibility and performance
  • Returnable transport item visibility process (Tracked containers being filled -> Transported -> Emptied -> Returned -> Repeat process) – Don’t lose sight of your totes – Have the ability to charge demurrage if the customer does not return in a timely manner
  • Serialized Track and Trace – Tracking of serialized items using SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure (AII) and Object Event Repository (OER)

Events are one common denominator in your supply chain. You can monitor events AS THEY OCCUR (versus mining your BI / BW for historical data to make business decisions). Most importantly, studying planned vs. actual events reveal the inaccuracies or gaps of the planning function. Understanding what your employees are doing is a giant step towards solving bottlenecks or constraints in the supply chain.

Why SAP EM with SAP TM?

SAP Event Management provides comprehensive, integrated, rule-based functionality that supports near real-time insight in to significant business processes. Some primary examples are:

  • Proactive identification of potential disruptions in the supply chain
  • Real-time monitoring of supply chain activities – extensible visibility to cross functional processes, assets and results
  • Real-time notifications, of issues to address, sent to assigned individuals based on specific parameters – i.e. notify the right people of a potential disruption in the supply chain
  • Provides the data points needed for measurements and KPIs for decision making. Through measurement you can not only make sure that the plan is being followed but also that the plan is indeed optimal
  • Extensive track and trace functions that enable proactive process monitoring, automated exception resolution, proactive alerts as well as drill-down reporting. SAP EM has the ability to not only track the process based on actual event data, but also by actual message data. The message refers to the physical document / transaction that the partners send to us to communicate the occurrence of a supply chain event. This is crucial to measure because it ties back to receiving timely information from our partners… With this distinction in SAP EM we are easily able to measure compliance to timeliness of communication by the supply chain partners
  • Tracking facilitates location status during transit – Where Is My Product (WIMP)?

In general the need in the Supply Chain today is to ensure full visibility to the status of your transport (inbound and outbound) regardless of the location or partner executing the process. This is imperative if you want to provide a consistent, accurate status notification to your customer.

On a side note, it is incredibly important to get all your partners participating in sending complete, timely and accurate event date when it pertains to a customer drop-ship process… Consider the implication to customer satisfaction if a supplier is going to ship an order late or the corresponding carrier will deliver late, and we are not able to inform the customer of the pending issue! Take back control of your end-to-end Supply Chain in order to provide a comprehensive quality customer service experience.

Customer checking her order status on her phone

Our Customer Promise …

We promise to deliver a quality product, free from damage, on the day promise with the correct paperwork attached.

If however, things don’t go according to plan we are letting you know that we will do everything in our power to correct it in a timely fashion AND we will let you know what the new expectation is that you can work with…

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