Variant Configuration – Class Type 200 vs. Phantom KMATs

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Recently, I was reminded of one of the biggest downfalls of using class type 200 within a VC BOM.  The is the inability to track the changes using ECM.  This got me to thinking about the differences between the approaches of Class Type 200 vs. Phantom KMATs.  While both methods cwill ultimately get you to the same place, there are very obvious differences between the 2 methods.  In general, both approaches are very valuable, but each has pros and cons.  So let’s talk a little about the differences…

Let me define what I mean by a phantom KMAT.  This is simply another KMAT that sits on the top level BOM.  So this turns into nested KMAT’s, but often there is no configuration that occurs on the phantom level.  It is more of a BOM grouping, with pass through values (if could be configured, but for our purposes today, consider it just a group of parts).  You simply create a KMAT, say Hard Drive, that contains all of the possible hard drives you wish to use.  Then you add the selection condition to each component, set the Material master of the HARD DRIVE KMAT to be a phantom and you’re ready to go.

The first major difference is the change management aspects.  Because of the way the class type 200 works, you can’t add or change materials using Engineering Change Management.  For many organizations, this can be a show stopper.  The convenience of not creating selection conditions for each material, but simply adding characteristic values can be tempting…  but if your organization needs to do a lot of obsolete and supersceding of components, class type 200’s can be a major obstacle.  Now the Phantom KMAT will not have this issue.  But, the price is creating a selection condition for each material on the BOM, and also using a constraint to pass the values from the parent to the child KMAT.  You may also need to create a class for each Phantom KMAT that only holds the characteristics needed for those components, or you could reuse the entire class.  Either way, it can be more overhead.

Reuse of the items.  This is the place that both methods work great at.  Now, one of my favorite things to do is create generic KMAT’s that can be used across multiple product lines.  In my first VC job, we did a lot cables with 35 or more different connectors that can be used.  Well, since the same components were often used across multiple product lines, I could create a single phantom KMAT and use it on multiple top level KMAT’s.  the Obvious value is maintaining changes in one spot.  the hardest part of this method is thinking far enough ahead to make it useful.  Now you can do the same thing with class type 200’s as well.  So both methods are great for this.

A single component vs. as many as you need.  Now another obvious drawback to class type 200’s is the limitation of only being able to select a single part number.  If you had multiple part numbers, you would need multiple classes to select all the components.  Within a phantom KMAT, depending on your selection conditions, you could select as many as you need.

So far, everything seems in favor of the phantom KMAT, but here’s one that is big benefit to the class type 200.  If you work in an environment where parts change often, new options are constantly added, or perhaps you engineer as you need something…  well, the class type 200 can be set to required.  this means that your sales order will show as incomplete if the class doesn’t find a material.  Phantom KMAT’s don’t have an easy way to accomplish the same thing.

Now there are other pro’s and con’s, but in my experience, these are the 4 biggest features to keep in mind.  I’d love to hear your comments.  Thanks for reading,

As always, thanks for reading and don't forget to check out our SAP Service Management Products at my other company JaveLLin Solutions,

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