Material requirements planning (MRP) is one of the most important functions in an ERP system but is also very performance-intensive. Depending on the size and complexity of the company and the production processes, it can take several hours. For this reason, the MRP is traditionally planned as an overnight job. Many companies would therefore like to have data that is more up-to-date but are bound by technical restrictions.
With the HANA database, SAP has created the conditions for eliminating this bottleneck – or, at least, improving it. In this respect, SAP promises significantly faster speeds with the new MRP Live functionality, so that the MRP can be scheduled to take place several times a day.
MRP Live: flexible and rapid material requirements planning via in-memory technology
In SAP HANA, SAP has developed a new form of material requirements planning which is known as MRP Live and/or MRP Live on HANA. In technical terms, think of MRP Live as the following: the request to carry out the material requirements planning is sent in one piece to the main storage, where the calculation then takes place and is transferred back in one piece. It is possible to save considerable amounts of time by using this in-memory technology. However, you will also notice that the time saved for certain materials cannot be measured or is very small. MRP Live therefore only shows its strengths with very large quantities of data. The planning run can be structured more easily with MRP Live. That means, for example, that a group of materials can be planned: one material across every plant, or all materials for one MRP controller. Conventional material requirements planning is still available.
MRP Live also has various functions which are not immediately evident. For example, materials that MRP Live is unable to plan are forwarded to the conventional MRP and are planned there (e.g. scheduling of materials at the point of order). Secondly, MRP Live forwards materials for which PP/DS is activated to the master planning process in PP/DS. The limitations MRP Live has are highly dependent on its release and patch level; to that end, SAP has created the OSS note 1914010, which is regularly updated.
MRP Live differs from the conventional MRP in the following ways:
- MRP Live does not write any scheduling lists.
- The multi-level individual customer requirements planning (transaction MD50) is not optimised for SAP HANA.
- The individual project requirements planning (transaction MD51) is not optimised for SAP HANA.
- The creation indicator for purchase requisitions is unavailable in MRP Live. MRP Live always creates purchase requisitions if the material has been procured externally.
- The creation indicator for delivery schedules is unavailable in MRP Live. MRP Live always creates delivery schedules if a valid delivery schedule is available.
MRP lists were formerly a work tool for the MRP controller and a tool for circumventing performance problems. On the one hand, performance problems are no longer an issue in SAP S/4HANA. On the other hand, newer tools have been created for the MRP controller so that they can check and edit their scheduling using SAP Fiori apps. The adjustment regarding the creation indicator is the biggest obvious change. SAP justified this by saying that working methods in companies have changed and that the separation between the MRP controllers and buyers no longer exists. Even if that is partly true, it certainly can’t be generalized. In this context, customers must either live with the changed functions or restore the old logic using BAdIs.
In addition to the above constraints, there are others, such as stochastic materials planning. We see that these can certainly be planned with MRP Live, but in the background, MRP Live passes the planning on to the classic MRP where the planning takes place. This method can also be used by entering materials in the transaction MD_MRP_FORCE_CLASSIC, for example, to continue using the old BAdIs. Via the same transaction, it is also clear as to which materials have been planned with the standard MRP, with MRP Live or even with PP/DS.
“Determining material coverage” as part of SAP® Smart Business
As MRP Live no longer supports MRP lists, the question arises as to how the MRP controller now works. In this respect, SAP has created a series of new Fiori apps that support the MRP controllers and even offer simulation capabilities.
It is certainly the case that one of the key Fiori apps is “Determine material coverage”. This can be roughly compared with the MRP list, but with current data. In this list, with the correct filter settings, you can see all the materials shortages for which the MRP controller is responsible, i.e. those for which the MRP controller is required to take action.
From here, it is possible to access and view the material coverage. At this point, experienced users of SAP will recognize the stock/requirement list.
Until now many will feel nothing is new, it is only more colourful. It is possible to analyse the situation regarding the material shortage in these apps. SAP offers simulation options on how to resolve those shortages as well.
If this is not sufficiently colourful, you can also edit this graphically and see when and how the shortfall can be resolved.
In summary, with MRP Live, SAP has developed a powerful tool for material requirements planning under S/4HANA which breaks new ground in terms of both performance and usability.
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