The companies responsible for transporting large volumes of goods need a tool that will allow them to obtain a global view of the transport demands whilst, at the same time, allowing the planning to be done fast, precisely and at optimum levels. In general, this is what the Transportation Cockpit tool on SAP TM (Transportation Management) as a core in the transport planning processes.
Planning in the Transportation Cockpit
The Cockpit is able to do the planning for the transport, both manual and optimised, without the need to manually insert the information regarding resources, transport needs, etc. into the tool. This is done by configuring a series of profiles that select the information by the users automatically.
On the one hand, a selection profile is defined which checks which needs are taken into account during the planning by way of parameters such as origin and destination of the goods, requested collection or delivery date, type of goods, etc. For example, a selection profile can be defined whose origin is the customer’s factory and where the delivery date is within 15 days. On accessing the cockpit with this profile, all the transport needs that fulfil those parameters will be shown.
On the other hand, a planning profile is defined which contains multiple parameters that control how the planning needs to be made. Some of them are:
- Creating parcels/packages. The system can propose how to package the goods in boxes, on pallets, etc. depending on the packaging rules that this profile states.
- Selecting capacity. The considerations to take into account for selecting the suitable vehicles, containers or drivers are stated for the planning that is being carried out. For example, only selecting refrigerated lorries or containers in the event of transporting frozen goods.
- Parameters for automatic planning. In the event of working with automatic planning, the system can be shown which criteria to take into account in order to carry out this type. For example, it can be stated if the order of stops is accepted for change, if intermediary stops or transfers can be inserted, if when choosing the route, the most important issue is the cost or the transport duration, etc.
- Selecting courriers. The transport provider can be chosen either manually or automatically. If done automatically, the criteria that must be taken into account are defined in order to assign the right provider for the transport. For example, depending on the price of the transport, the fees agreed on with the providers, etc.
- It states the potential incompatibilities between the transport needs, like, for example, not transporting frozen goods and dry goods in the same lorry or avoiding a specific route for special transport.
This way, the system is able to select all the important transport needs for the planning, group them together based on the defined criteria and propose the best route to reduce costs or collection and delivery times, depending on the user’s preference.
Automatic planning vs Manual planning
Both manual planning and automatic planning is available in the Cockpit.
For manual planning, the user manually assigns the transport needs to air or sea reserves or to available couriers or lorries when transported by road. Warnings can be configured so that the user does not make an incorrect allocation, for example, assigning a need for an air reserve which will not meet the delivery date requested by the customer.
One of the tools included within the Cockpit that enables resource management is the Gantt Chart. One of its main features if the possibility to view the use, inactivity periods and use of the lorry and trailer loads graphically.
For automatic planning, the system generates the transport proposals automatically by proposing and assigning the number of lorries or reserves necessary to fulfil the transport needs. In the same way, it checks that the list of resources fulfils the transport specifications and proposes the most suitable vehicle and the courier for the journey.
The cockpit optimiser is also able to provide the most suitable route in order to meet deadlines and costs for each of the journeys. It can also take criteria into account such as selecting the shortest journey possible, using return transport, etc.
Even though automatic planning is carried out, it is always a proposal, and so the journeys generated and the allocation of the transport needs can be amended by the user to obtain the desired result.
Image 1. Source: blogs.sap.com
Planning the load
In the Transportation Cockpit the user is able to configure their own load plan so that they can plan how the goods are going to travel in the lorry, trailer, container or any other resource suitably. This allows the user to transport as many goods as possible without exceeding the established limit, safely ensuring the distribution of the load in the compartment for transportation.
This plan includes information about whether the articles can be loaded or not due to the space available, the loading sequence and their exact position in the vehicle. Along with the loading plan, there is a load distribution available for each axis and the full vehicle. This plan also contains statistic indicators regarding, for example, used volume, area, etc.
Image 2. Source: blogs.sap.com
All this information is shown on a 3D model generated by SAP Visual Business. It is in an interactive and encoded view by colours in order to verify the result of the planning in a simpler format.
Image 3. Source: blogs.sap.com
Geo-Map Transportation Cockpit
The map tool available on SAP TM is a functionality that is an aid for managing and planning the resources within the Transportation Cockpit. This “planning map” shows the detail of the transportation documents such as the assigned resources, route made or dates and times of collection and delivery.
The main functionality of this tool is to provider the user with precise location data, which provides the possibility to create routes manually and directly onto the map, calculating the distance and duration between the origin and destination.
With all this we can say that the Transportation Cockpit is the perfect tool for transport planning, offering process optimisation as well as the speed and agility needed for transporting large volumes of goods.