Very little thought is usually give to the setup of carriers in our ERPs systems, in most cases they are considered just another vendor. Because of our experience over the years integrating our own solutions and third party shipping systems. We have adopted some simple leading practices to establish carriers records to support activities such as carrier performance, track and trace etc. I will show you how to adopt those in SAP below. The key is our carrier SCAC (Standard Carrier Alpha Code), it purpose is to uniquely identify a carrier and is administered by the NMFTA. SCAC codes are required in most data exchange processes such as EDI, Customs clearance, Advanced eBOL etc. Following the leading practice for using SCAC codes in SAP will benefit your downstream processes and facilitate data exchange.
A carrier in SAP is master data represented by a vendor(business partner) if you are dealing directly with the carrier. In cases where a third party TMS is used that obfuscates the carrier, it is still possible to get the benefits of a vendor master to identify the carrier but a little more involved.
Our first key Leading practice is to establish a separate account group to represent carriers. Shown below (Fig. 1) is the standard account group for carriers defined as forwarding agents in SAP. You can also define your own separate group. The key details of this account group is to allow external vendor number assignment and also to require carrier control data. as shown is when setting up a vendor ( Fig. 1 ) we want to use the SCAC code as the vendor number, this will require that the account group be defined to support this but typically the leading practice is to use a separate account group for carriers as shown below in ( Fig.2 ).
The leading practice for setup of the carrier vendor master record is to use the SCAC code as the vendor number. This provides the benefit of being able to assign a carrier to a shipment document by utilizing the SCAC which is readily available as opposed to a vendor master number which is not directly related to the carrier and only useful internally.
For example in SAP if a carrier is not defined by default and carried over from a sales order document the carrier might need to be populated at the dock. It is easier for warehouse personnel to use a SCAC code which is known by most personnel vs attempting a look up to determine the right vendor number.
The SCAC code can be used as a lookup but this introduces one more step.
The remaining key values are the populate the SCAC code again in the SAP carrier control values, note this value is less useful but it is used on the carrier lookup as shown in Fig. 4 above this should match the vendor number.
The carrier freight group and Service Agent procedure group should be populated for the determination of freight classes and pricing as follows:
- SCAC code
- Carrier freight group – grouping code for the determination of freight code sets and freight classes in the US.
- Service Agent processing group – This field is necessary for freight pricing procedures in shipments, if you are not doing freight pricing this is not relevant.
Recap leading practices recommendations
- Separate account group for carrier.
- Activate Carrier control data.
- Use the carrier SCAC code as the vendor number.
- Populate the SCAC code also in the carrier control data.
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