Copenhagen Programming Language Seminar

Interactive Configuration with SAP

Henrik Reif Andersen
Configit Software and the IT University of Copenhagen

Tuesday, June 12, 14:15-15:30 (!)
DIKU, Universitetsparken 1, Room N010


SAP is the market leader in ERP systems with a worldwide market share of around 30%. In comparison Oracle has around 10% and Microsoft Dynamics has less than 4%. A typical SAP customer is a large enterprise and SAP has no less than 38,000 customers worldwide.

Included in SAP is a module called SAP Variant Configurator abbreviated SAP-VC which is used in configuring variants of products for manufacturing. Many of todays industrial products are mass produced but at the same time also customizable to individual needs including cars, trucks, pumps, and wind turbines. This mass customization combines the benefits of mass production with the ability to customize products for individual needs. In order to implement mass customization it is necessary to have complete control of individual orders and have clear definitions of the space of possible variations to be accepted for production.

SAP-VC allows for the definition of product variants as product models in terms of a set of constraints and functions. SAP-VC also includes a constraint engine used from within SAP in order to check orders against the constraints before being admitted for production. However, SAP-VC is limited to use from within SAP and has severe performance problems. In this talk, we see how an efficient constraint engine based on the data structure called Binary Decision Diagrams allows product models to be automatically exported from SAP and compiled into a compact representation of the solution space for use outside SAP with dramatic performance improvements. These improvements allow for interactive configuration of the product variants so that sales staff can now be assisted in accepting correct orders through a process called guided selling.

The talk will both include material on SAP and discuss heuristic algorithms for solving NP-hard constraint problems. It also includes demos of interactive configuration.

Scientific host: Ken Friis Larsen. Administrative host: Camilla Torp-Smith. All are welcome.
The Copenhagen Programming Language Seminar (COPLAS) is a collaboration between DIKU, ITU, and RUC.
COPLAS is sponsored by the FIRST Research School.
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For more information about COPLAS, see http://www.coplas.org