SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (SAP APO) was originally designed to run on a separated installation and to use two databases, the APO database (APODB) and SAP liveCache. The APODB is a regular database in which master data and transactional data is stored, whereas liveCache is a database especially designed to handle complex algorithms and calculations that were executed by SAP APO heuristics. This approach allowed SAP APO to run in parallel with SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) without disturbing the business transactions.
The Core Interface (CIF) is responsible for integration between SAP APO and SAP ERP. The CIF integration happens by means of remote function calls (RFCs) and inbound and outbound queues where data is processed when received or sent. Data is frequently stuck on these queues, causing a disruption in the supply chain planning process.
SAP APO was always restricted to large companies due to the high costs of ownership and maintenance of the complex landscape. It means that small and midsized companies could not get the benefit of SAP APO functionalities such as finite capacity planning during the planning run or the material requirements planning (MRP) calculation in buckets smaller than days (i.e., executing MRP runs planned down to hours, minutes, and seconds of a specific date).
Now, SAP S/4HANA release 1610 offers embedded Production Planning and Detailed Scheduling (PP/DS). In the new approach, liveCache was integrated in the SAP HANA database, which means that liveCache is now faster, since it runs in memory on SAP HANA, and you don’t need to maintain two different databases anymore.
In addition, the PP/DS transactions are executed directly in SAP S/4HANA, which means that you no longer need a separate installation to run SAP APO PP/DS transactions. The material master and the work center creation is also synchronous, which means that a material or a work center that has just been created can be immediately available for planning in PP/DS. It also means that you don’t need to maintain an integration model or to transfer the material master and work center through the CIF anymore.
Lastly, some SAP APO PP/DS functionalities were integrated with SAP S/4HANA. For example, MRP Live now can also plan PP/DS materials, and there is a single report to convert planned orders, whereas in the past, you had one for the SAP APO materials and another one for the ERP materials.
Activation of the Embedded PP/DS in SAP S/4HANA
In this section I explain the necessary steps to start using embedded PP/DS in SAP S/4HANA, such as checking the relevant business function and the customizing settings.
The Business Function
Embedded PP/DS was introduced by the business function SCM_PPDS_ON_ERP and it should be active by default on an SAP S/4HANA system. You can confirm if the business function is active by executing transaction code SFW_BROWSER and checking if the traffic light is green in the screen the system displays (Figure 1).
Green light for the business function SCM_PPDS_ON_ERP in the Switch Framework Browser screen
After the business function activation, you also need to activate Advanced Planning and Scheduling in customizing. To complete this step in customizing, follow IMG menu path Advanced Planning > Basic Settings > Activate Advanced Planning and Scheduling. Click the execute icon beside the Activate Advanced Planning and Scheduling node.
After the business function activation, you also need to activate Advanced Planning and Scheduling in customizing. To complete this step in customizing, follow IMG menu path Advanced Planning > Basic Settings > Activate Advanced Planning and Scheduling. Click the execute icon beside theActivate Advanced Planning and Scheduling node.
In the screen the system displays (Figure 2), select the Activate Advanced Planning and Scheduling check box.
Select the Activate Advanced Planning and Scheduling check box
(Note: As explained in SAP Note 2372590, a dedicated license for Advanced Planning and Scheduling is required if this switch is set to active.)
Another important customizing step is configuring the settings for data transfer. To complete this step, follow IMG menu path Advanced Planning > Basic Settings > Activate Advanced Planning and Scheduling > Settings for Data Transfer. Click the execute icon beside the Settings for Data Transfer node to display the screen in Figure 3.
In Figure 3 you define which transactional data should be automatically transferred between the ERP system and SAP APO. When you mark a specific element in this customizing step, it means that you do not need to create an integration model to transfer it between SAP ERP and SAP APO.
Settings for data transfer
Master Data Settings
The master data maintenance in embedded PP/DS was simplified, especially for the material master and the work center.
The Material Master
When Advanced Planning and Scheduling is active in the system, a new tab called Advanced Planning is available in the SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) material master. By creating a new material or changing an existing one, you can see this new tab after the tab MRP 4, as shown in Figure 4. In Figure 4, you also can see that there is a flag, which is also called Advanced Planning. Selecting this flag in the material master tells the system that your material is relevant to SAP APO and that the product will be created on the SAP APO side.
The Advanced Planning tab in the material master
After you select the Advanced Planning flag for an existing material, you need to execute the /SAPAPO/PPDS_DELTA_ORD_TRANS report for this material. This report allows the integration of existing planning elements for this material into SAP APO without the creation of an integration model. The report itself is very simple and the only input parameters to add are the material and the plant. Enter these parameters in the MATERIAL and PLANT fields shown in Figure 5.
The selection screen of report /SAPAPO/PPDS_DELTA_ORD_TRANS
In fact, the greatest benefit of this new approach is that you no longer have to create and maintain an integration model for materials to create the product master on the SAP APO side. In addition, in the same Advanced Planning tab of the material master, you can maintain all the PP/DS relevant settings, such as the product heuristic.
Another benefit is the full synchronization between master data in SAP ERP and SAP APO. It means that you do not need to wait for the CIF queue to be processed to see an error that could happen on the SAP APO side and the error messages coming from the SAP APO side are immediately displayed when you try to save the material master.
You can also use the mass maintenance transactions available for the material master, such as transaction codes MASSD or MM17, to maintain the SAP APO fields in the material master.
The Work Center
The resource (i.e., the work center in SAP APO) maintenance was also simplified in the SAP S/4HANA embedded PP/DS. Similar to when you maintain settings in the material master, when you need to define that a work center is relevant for capacity planning in PP/DS, you don’t need to create an integration model to generate the resource on the SAP APO side. During the work center creation or maintenance, you simply select the Advanced Planning flag (Figure 6) and the resource is then automatically created on the SAP APO side. It means that the integration model creation is not necessary and there are no CIF queues, so any error on the SAP APO side during the resource creation is immediately displayed when the work center is saved.
The Advanced Planning flag in the work center
Production Data Structure (PDS)
Even though the creation of the PDS in SAP APO is not as simple as the creation of the product (i.e., material in ECC) and the resource (i.e., work center in ECC), you still do not have to create an integration model to do it. Using the report PPDS_ERP_CUSLNTRTO_CIF_REPORT, you can generate the PDS based on the production versions. In addition, you do not have to monitor or maintain queues to check if the master data transference between ERP and SAP APO was successful, since any error during the transference is displayed on the report results.
Figure 7 shows the selection screen of report PPDS_ERP_CUSLNTRTO_CIF_REPORT, and in Figure 8, you can see the results of the report execution, showing a successful transfer of the PDS.
The selection screen of report PPDS_ERP_CUSLNTRTO_CIF_REPORT
Results of report PPDS_ERP_CUSLNTRTO_CIF_REPORT
A similar report called PPDS_ERP_CUSLNTRTO_CIF_MAST is available for the transfer of the bill of materials (BOM) only. You can also find the respective transactions for both reports in SAP Easy Access menu path Logistics > Production > Master Data > PDS for Advanced Planning.
Running PP/DS in SAP S/4HANA
The execution of most of the PP/DS transactions in SAP S/4HANA did not undergo significant changes. The greatest advantage of running SAP APO directly in SAP S/4HANA is that you can now run all the SAP APO and ERP transactions in a single system. That way, users do not need to log in and alternate between different systems. Also, similar to the master data transference, there is no need to use the CIF to transfer transactional data or to monitor queues, since data is immediately available in both systems.
For example, in Figure 9 you can see an error that happened after executing transaction code /SAPAPO/RRP3 to convert a planned order to a production order. In the SAP APO releases where PP/DS runs in a separate installation, you would be able to save the results and you would only see this result when processing the queue. Now you can immediately see and correct this error in order to avoid further problems or inconsistencies between SAP APO and SAP S/4HANA.
The Product View screen showing an error that happened on the ERP side
Even though the core PP/DS functionalities work in SAP S/4HANA, some scenarios are not covered in this solution, such as simulative planning with models or the use of production planning models. The already mentioned SAP Note 2372590 includes the Simplification List for embedded PP/DS, where the simplified and not supported scenarios are fully described.
With old technology, without SAP S/4HANA, when you run SAP APO on a separate instance, you need to schedule a background job to plan the PP/DS materials on the SAP APO side and another background job to plan the MRP materials on the ERP side. The PP/DS is scheduled before, and you need to ensure it had finished before the execution of the MRP job.
Now, in the embedded PP/DS solution, all the MRP and PP/DS materials can be planned together by MRP Live by executing transaction code MD01N. By selecting, for example, an MRP controller as an input parameter in MRP Live on SAP HANA transaction (MD01N), all the PP/DS (materials marked as Advanced Planning) and all the MRP materials where this MRP controller is set in the material master are planned together. As you can see in Figure 10, there is no specific parameter to include the Advanced Planning materials and the MRP selection screen is basically the same as in previous releases.
The selection screen of MRP Live
Figure 11 shows the MRP Live results, where you can see the number of PP/DS materials planned, the number of materials for which PP/DS planning failed, and the total time spent in PP/DS planning.
MRP Live results including the PP/DS materials
When you click the MRP Level button (shown in Figure 11), you can see a detailed sequence of planning, according to the material low-level code. There is only one low-level code, which defines the planning sequence for all the materials and, as you can see in Figure 12, the Advanced Planning materials are planned first and then the MRP materials of the same low-level code are planned, considering that materials with the lower level code (usually finished products) are planned first.
Advanced Planning and MRP materials planned by MRP Live
With all the planning execution happening on a single background job and with MRP Live being executed directly in SAP HANA, the system should take much less time to plan all the materials. It means that you can quickly identify shortages and reduce the total replenishment lead time of your materials.
Conversion of Planned Orders
When SAP APO runs on a separate instance, generally a report must be executed to convert planned orders to production orders on the SAP APO side (generally /SAPAPO/RRP_ORDER_CONVERSION) and another one to run the conversion on the ERP side (usually report PPBICO40).
Now, new reports were also delivered in ECC to execute the mass conversion of Advanced Planning materials to manufacturing orders. The report /SAPAPO/PROD_ORDER_CONVERT can be used for the mass conversion of production orders, while the report /SAPAPO/PROC_ORDER_CONVERT can be used for the conversion of process orders. Both reports can also be accessed via SAP Easy Access menu paths Logistics > Production > MRP > Planned Order > Convert to Production Order > Batch Conversion of Planned Order for Adv. Planning > Production Order Conversion |and| Logistics > Production > MRP > Planned Order > Convert to Process Order > Batch Conversion of Planned Order for Adv. Planning, respectively. Both reports are used in ECC, but one is for production and the other is for process orders.
The report selection screen (Figure 13) is very similar to the selection screen of the old report PPBICO40, which was generally used for the mass conversion of planned orders to production orders in the ERP side.
The selection screen of report /SAPAPO/PROD_ORDER_CONVERT
This report can process even planned orders of materials that are not relevant to Advanced Planning and the conversion will run a synchronous and queue-less update of converted orders across SAP ERP and SAP APO. It means that data is kept consistent in both sides during the order conversion and a single report can be used to convert orders on both sides.
PP/DS was always an excellent tool for planning, but the high costs of implementation and ownership of the SAP APO system restricted the use to big companies. Now that PP/DS can be executed directly in SAP S/4HANA, it will certainly be easier for small and midsized companies to adopt it.
In addition to the lower costs, there are several other benefits of this new solution.
This new approach makes the life of the end user easier. The end user does not need to log in to different systems (SAP APO and ERP) and he or she will have full visibility of the problems, since the error messages are immediately visible to the user, instead of being stuck in the queue and causing a business disruption.
In addition, the fact that PP/DS now runs together with MRP and that there is a single report to convert planned orders reduces the number of transactions and background jobs necessary for planning a material, which means that the total time spent on planning can also be reduced.
The system landscape can also be simplified, with fewer systems and databases to be maintained, since liveCache was incorporated into the SAP HANA database and you don’t need to maintain an additional instance for SAP APO.