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Aug 08, 2017 at 08:47 AM


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Hi Team,

One of our client is having a requirement to trace the returnable packing material from customers either in standard reports if available in SAP or with creation of Z report.

Empty container will be sent as a line item in sales order on FG sales.

Details of the scenario mentioned below for your understanding and inputs.

Mr X sells goods to Customer A and this customer inturn sell to customer B or C or D or E and all of these customers are inturn customers to Mr X. So any of them can return the empty containers to Mr X. So in the month end or quarter end how do i perform inventory reconciliation.

Once way is collect sales report data VA05, inventory report data MMBE.

Any inputs will be very helpful.

Kishore Naidu
FICO Consultant

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4 Answers

Fausto Regis de Oliveira Motter Aug 10, 2017 at 09:22 PM

Hi Kishore.
There are a million ways to cover this requirement. Are you using Handling Unity? Has these packages a serial number? Well, SAP has some features to provide good tracking in returnable package.
If I'm have a good understanding about your question, the main point that you want to know is if there are available a standard report to check this package movement. You wrote that your customer includes the package in sales item, and I suppose that you dont lower this package with 601 movement, because you do not sell this package, you only "lent the package".
In this case, try to run the MB52 and fill the material, plant, customer and movements type (inbound and outbound). You will find the balance.
But, again, your question is really generic and it depends on the scenario and how you handle this returnable package. There are some features that allow us to have a very deep trackable for returnable packages.

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Jürgen L
Aug 12, 2017 at 12:02 PM

Not sure if you told us the whole story or if you hided important parts.

You have no information about the sales activities of customer A in your own books, hence you only know what you send to customer A.

If you get packaging back from B, C and D, then you cannot know anything from your own SAP system, you would need Gandalf's Palantir instead of a report, except there is something which you did not tell us.

Ask the people in the plant how they know that this is your packaging, that it is packaging which was originally send to A.

And what they do to record this information. Only then you can create a report.

If each of your packaging would have an individual serial number, then this info could be used to know that the packaging was send to A while B returns it to you.

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Kishore Naidu Aug 12, 2017 at 11:38 AM

Hi Regis/Vaselina,

Thank you for your inputs. We have a issue of reconciliation when empties returned from other customers to whom direct sale not happened. For direct sales happened to customers and its returned, we follow the standard SAP process.

Would be really helpful, if further inputs given on either traceability/tracking of empties or any report availability in SAP on empties return.


Kishore Naidu

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Whatever you receive from B, C, D as returns resulting from indirect sales - be it pallet plates or non-branded bottles, shouldn't this be treated as returns from A? If there are losses - you will ask for payment from A and it is A's problem how he is going to get these from B, C and D. I do not really care if A returns the original pallet plates and non-branded bottles (for branded bottles I expect to receive the same type as I provided) - as long as they are in good condition. These have no numbering and I would manage them by quantity in IM (bottles are fixed assets). I would not notice even if he bought them from somewhere else instead of paying the amount, which he owes me for losses. As long as the quantity and quality matches, I have no problem with that.

For returns from direct sales I would manage A, B, C and D's returnables in the system per quantity for all sales transactions and I see no issues with reconciling the differences.

When one receives returns even by third-party providers, these are accompanied with receipt protocols (signed by both the customer and the driver - what is received, when and in what condition). Normally, the client is supposed to know from whom he bought the original products and to whom he owes deposit for each delivery, when he is returning empties. People in the warehouse are well aware of the procedure and they check and count the unloaded quantities against the signed papers and record (actually it is a signed protocol by the warehouse clerk and the driver) if something is missing (if they don't do this - it is them who are responsible for losses, if they do - the transportation company is liable).

Additionally, drivers place something like labels in the truck to know which returns originate from which customer (if they had a lot of stops on the route).

For gas containers tracking needs to be, of course, more detailed, because they have numbers and there are really strict rules to follow.

If you collect deposits for empties (beverage companies do that), you need to reconcile also by value, which is a bit more complicated, but this is probably not what you are worried about, I think.

When it comes to empties traceability, 'standard process' does not make understanding easier, sorry. There are multiple ways to manage returnables, some of which utilize various standard functionalities - some use empties management, others go with consignment, some choose V stock, others make a combination of several options, depending on the country/product/customer.

What did your SD and MM colleagues tell you when you asked about reporting of indirect sales, especially for returnables? During projects I have observed that returnables are often an underestimated topic, which becomes vitally important after the first 2 months post go-live, people sometimes try learning from mistakes and the next time they include it as a separate workshop every time a new process is introduced (and invite as many consultants from different streams as possible). Aren't there some decision papers on the topic, which you could probably request? Your solution architect and the BPLs may have written something helpful there.

Veselina Peykova
Aug 11, 2017 at 06:29 AM

You have two separate cases here- the first is returns from B, C, D for sales orders, placed to A - none of your concern from which customer the returns are, you need to track containers for A in this case.

For the second case you have returns for your own orders, collected by A on your behalf. In my opinion, this is just some cross-docking scenario and I can't see problems with containers/pallets tracking here.

When customer A returns pallets to your warehouse, this is accompanied with papers (or it should be), so you will know from where these containers originate :)

One possibility to track containers/pallets per customer is with empties management, for example, and you can even send balance confirmations to customers each month, but I doubt that you use it - otherwise you would not need to ask the question in the forum...

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