Effective Container Fleet Management in SAP

Moving containers between warehouse, quayside, vendor and offshore locations is common process in upstream oil and gas. Nonetheless, effective container fleet management presents a number of challenges and the process faces further scrutiny particularly during industry widespread cost saving initiatives.

Yet, with such scrutiny comes opportunity and Absoft has helped oil and gas companies to streamline container fleet management using SAP as a single source of accurate information.

Oil and gas companies must ensure that containers remain available and certified, whilst minimising rental and offshore re-certification costs.

Continue reading if you can resonate with the pain points shared by our oil and gas customers:

    • Container information is stored across multiple sources (SAP®, Excel and databases)
    • Poor visibility of container locations and certification expiry dates 
    • Container information held in SAP is inaccurate and out of date
    • High volumes of container information include complexities between ownership, which can be difficult to map in SAP
    • Managing and tracing container movements between quayside, supply vessels and multiple platforms 
    • High manual effort to retrieve certificate numbers and container certification dates when moving data into SAP en masse
    • Reacting to recertification requirements without prior notice 
    • Deploying engineers offshore to recertify containers constitutes a significant and unnecessary cost
    • Continuous effort to update information and embed changes into existing logistics processes

SAP specialists Absoft found that a combination of controlled data entry and enhanced SAP functionality can lead to a significant improvement in container fleet management, whilst lowering re-certification costs.

Absoft has first-hand experience of the associated challenges when trying to ‘make sense’ of container data. Drawing upon my own experience, I recently worked with a Logistics team to move over 20,000 containers, from third party applications and spreadsheets, into SAP as part of a SAP Remote Logistics Management (RLM) implementation.

The key challenge was to ensure containers were created and available for use at the correct site within a tight 48 hour timeframe, during which, shipments and containers were still in transit.

During the preparation phase, the project team had to define container templates and meaningful naming conventions, which was difficult given complex relationships between owners and hirers, fleets having changed ownership historically, and the sheer volume of data involved. We also found that SAP’s concept of container types, unique containers and handling units for loose lifts are often difficult to understand for end-users, in the same way the logistical subtleties of hands-on container movements are not intuitive to IT personnel.

Albeit a labour intensive effort, the end result was that our customer had clear and overarching visibility of unit whereabouts, dimensions, certificate numbers and expiry dates.

The successful migration of containers into SAP crucially allowed for the go-live of the RLM solution on time and within budget. The implementation paved the way for a much more stringent shipping process while also introducing a more effective container recertification process operating from a single source of information held in SAP.

Based on this experience and similar oil and gas projects, we’ve developed best practice guidelines for effective container fleet management in SAP:

    • Early Warning System – Triggers can be set up to indicate when container recertification dates are approaching. These early warning indicators can prevent container distribution offshore, or prompt the immediate recall of containers from remote locations, without incurring the cost of deploying engineers offshore for recertification. 
    • Improved reporting functionality – SAP can increase the visibility of container locations (at the vendor, in the warehouse or offshore), identify container availability or non-availability, and approaching recertification dates. Knowledge of when containers left company premises can also support verifying rental invoices, especially if hire rates are also captured in SAP.
    • Safety – SAP can support Shipping teams to prevent shipping containers which exceed their safe loading weight and avoid the accidental usage of expired containers.
    • Deck Capacity Planning – Functionality available in SAP’s Voyage Management Information System (VMIS) can improve the efficiency of deck space planning, based on accurate container footprints maintained in SAP.

To help consolidate information in SAP, streamline your existing records and reduce the cost of recertifying containers offshore contact Absoft today via the button below or call +44 (0)1224 707088 to speak with our SAP consultants.

by Petra Hampton, Senior SAP Consultant

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