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Introduction to Variant Configuration with an example model

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Purpose

This guide is supposed to be a short introduction to Variant Configuration with a simple example. With that guide one should be able to set up a first configuration model. If you need further information about this topic please have a look at the online help of SAP, which you can find here: http://help.sap.com.

Variant Configuration  

To get an understanding of what Variant Configuration actually is let's read the description offered by the SAP Online Help:

"Variant configuration is for manufacturing complex products. The manufacturer is always having to offer new variants of its products. Often, new variants are created by modifying existing product designs as you process the order. The important thing is to react quickly to customers' requirements.
The customer determines the features of the product. A customer buying a car, for example, can choose the features of the car and combine these features as required.
The product configurator improves information exchange between sales, engineering, and production. Variant configuration helps the customer or salesperson to put together specifications for the product and ensure that the product can be produced from these specifications. It also ensures that production costs do not overstep the mark."

Now that we know what's behind these two words we can start to build an example model.

Example Model

In order to keep this guide compact this model will be quite simple. Let's assume that we want to configure a computer. A computer consists of different components which will be chosen accordingly to the characteristics.

Our characteristics of the computer are:

CharacteristicPossible Values
VC_CHR_TYPE

-          Office computer

-          Gaming computer

-          Server

-          Laptop

VC_CHR_CPU

-          A-CPU

-          I-CPU

VC_CHR_MAIN_MEMORY

-          2 GB

-          4 GB

-          8 GB

-          16 GB

VC_CHR_GRAPHIC_CARD

-          N-Graphic Card

-          A-Graphic Card

-          Onboard

VC_CHR_OTHER_EQUIPMENT

(multiple values)

-          High-End Sound Card

-          TV Tuner Card

-          Modem

Each characteristic needs exact one entry except VC_CHR_OTHER_EQUIPMENT.
Our computer is a "complex" material and consists of other materials. Therefore we need a bill of materials. Each component has got only one characteristic:

VC_CHR_PriceNumeric Value

The materials are finished products which are not configurable itself.

Bill of materials

Components
VC_MAT_A_CPU
VC_MAT_MEM_2
VC_MAT_MEM_4
VC_MAT_MEM_8
VC_MAT_MEM_16
VC_MAT_GRAPH_N
VC_MAT_GRAPH_A
VC_MAT_GRAPH_O
VC_MAT_EQU_SOUND
VC_MAT_EQU_TV
VC_MAT_EQU_MODEM

The characteristics of the computer are not independent among each other. Hence, we define some dependencies.

Preconditions

PreconditionCharacteristic / Char. - ValueCondition
VC_EX_CON1Other EquipmentVC_CHR_TYPE <> 'Server' AND VC_CHR_TYPE <> 'Laptop'
VC_EX_CON28GB + 16GB; A-CPUVC_CHR_TYPE = 'Server'
VC_EX_CON3N-Graphic Card + A-Graphic CardVC_CHR_TYPE = 'Gaming computer' OR VC_CHR_TYPE = 'Laptop'
VC_EX_CON4OnboardVC_CHR_TYPE = 'Server' OR VC_CHR_TYPE = 'Office computer'

Selection conditions

As it is described above the components of the computer will be chosen by means of the chosen characteristics. To implement this functionality we need selection conditions.

MaterialSelection Condition
VC_MAT_A_CPUVC_CHR_CPU = 'A-CPU'
VC_MAT_I_CPUVC_CHR_CPU = 'I-CPU'
VC_MAT_MEM_2VC_CHR_MAIN_MEMORY = 2
VC_MAT_MEM_4VC_CHR_MAIN_MEMORY = 4
VC_MAT_MEM_8VC_CHR_MAIN_MEMORY = 8
VC_MAT_MEM_16C_CHR_MAIN_MEMORY = 16
VC_MAT_GRAPH_NVC_CHR_GRAPHIC_CARD = 'N-Graphic Card'
VC_MAT_GRAPH_AVC_CHR_GRAPHIC_CARD = 'A-Graphic Card'
VC_MAT_GRAPH_OVC_CHR_GRAPHIC_CARD = 'Onboard'
VC_MAT_EQU_SOUND'High-End Sound Card' IN VC_CHR_OTHER_EQUIPMENT
VC_MAT_EQU_TV'TV Tuner Card' IN VC_CHR_OTHER_EQUIPMENT
VC_MAT_EQU_MODEM'Modem' IN VC_CHR_OTHER_EQUIPMENT

How to transfer the model into the SAP System?

First of all we need to define the characteristics. This can be done with the help of transaction CT04.

After you're done with that you should create a new class which contains all previously created characteristics. You have to consider one important fact: The class should be created with a class type which is intended for Variant Configuration (SAP Standard: Class type 300).

The corresponding transaction is: CL02

If you have done it correctly then you should have something like this:

Now you should apply the preconditions to the characteristics and its values.

Bill of materials - Materials

In order to create a bill of materials we need - of course - materials. These materials can be assigned to a class. As described above this class has got only one characteristic: VC_CHR_PRICE. Moreover the class doesn't have to be of type 300 because the materials are - in our case - not configurable. If you have created this class we can create each material with transaction: MM01.Here you must specify the industry sector and the material type of the material. In our simple example it's enough to classify the material and to set a plant. Hence, we have to select the Classification and e.g. Purchasing View.

Specify the plant in which the material is used.

Enter the material description and the base unit of measure.

Then classify and valuate the material.

After that you can go on to the Purchasing view which is shown below:

Enter the description, the base unit of measure and a material group.Repeat this step for all components of our computer.

Bill of Materials - The computer material

Now we created all components of the computer, but something is still missing - the computer itself. So we have to make a new material for our computer. This is the configurable material. You should either select "Configurable Mat" as material type in the start screen or you have to select it in the basic data in order to sign this material as configurable.

Select the Purchasing and Classification view here as well, assign a plant, write a description and classify the material with our computer class.

Bill of materials

Now we have all things done to create the bill of materials. The transaction CS01 supports us by this task. Here you have to enter the name of the material which is supposed to have a BOM. Moreover the plant and the BOM Usage fields are required.

After that you get the following screen:

After you entered all components the bill of material is nearly complete. You may have wondered about the selection conditions we defined in our model earlier. Now it's time to apply them to each position in our bill of material. To do so, select the component and then choose the dependency assignment or editor via menu.

If you choose to use the editor then you create only a local dependency. The assignment functionality is for global dependencies. (see SAP Online Help - Variant Configuration for more detailed information). If you want to use global dependencies you need to create the dependencies in transaction cu01 first.

After we assigned all dependencies the bill of materials is completed.

Now we have to create a configuration profile with the help of transaction: CU41. First you're asked to choose the configurable object to which you want to assign the profile.

Then you have to enter the name of the - in this case - material. After that you'll get the following dialog:

In the displayed list you can add some configuration profiles, while the priority of each profile depends on the position. (The lower the number the higher the priority). Besides the name of the profile you have to choose the class type of this configuration. In this case we have to choose class type 300 - the SAP standard class type for configurable classes.

With double-clicking on the profile name you'll get to the configuration screen of the profile. Besides the basic data which are self-explanatory you can set some other properties.

For example you can choose the process which is indented for this material. Each process is explained in the F4-help. The next option - BOM explosion - indicates how the bill of material is exploded in the sales order. If you choose "Sing-Level" or "Multi-Level" you have to set the application of the material and you are free to apply a filter.

Now all the settings were made and we can test the configuration.

Test of the configuration

You can simulate your configuration with the transaction CU50.

Enter the Name of the material and the plant and press F8. After that you can configure the material by means of the characteristics.

Then you can see the result bill of materials by clicking the marked button.

As a result we receive a bill of material according to the characteristics entered.

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