SAP Business Network for Logistics – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Author’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2021 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness to cover the current SAP Business Network for Logistics release.

Author’s Note: Refer to our other FAQs for more information on SAP Transportation Management and S/4HANA Embedded TM.

SAP Business Network for Logistics (BN4L) is a relatively new product from SAP enabling cloud-based integration and communication between shippers and transportation providers/carriers in a number of scenarios. Although it is not technically dependent on SAP Transportation Management (TM) it is often deployed in tandem with SAP TM. While SAP LBN has several key components, in this article we are going to focus specifically on the Freight Collaboration offering of SAP Business Network for Logistics. It is worth noting that prior to 2023 SAP’s official name for this solution was SAP Logistics Business Network (LBN) and it was later renamed to SAP Business Network for Logistics as SAP Business Network overall umbrella now includes other products, not necessarily focused on Logistics.

Freight Collaboration component has the following main capabilities:

  • Tendering of shipments/loads to carriers. Carriers can respond to tenders either via EDI/API or manually via their own SAP BN4L tenant portal.
  • Freight execution reporting, which allows carriers to report events (arrival, departure, proof of delivery, etc.) to shippers.
  • Invoicing of shipments/loads from carriers to shippers, including dispute management in case of disagreements on freight charges between parties.
  • Dock appointment scheduling.

SAP Business Network for Logistics, Freight Collaboration is typically licensed/purchased by shippers who will receive an SAP Cloud “tenant” which represents their unique cloud-based account of SAP BN4L where they can maintain the appropriate configuration/setup that matches their requirements as well as connect it to their S4/HANA or TM Business Suite (9.X) instances. Compared to “traditional” on-premise SAP software, the number of configuration options is somewhat limited which is not unusual and in some ways “by design” given the cloud-centric SaaS deployment model of SAP BN4L. Shippers will also have ability to maintain test tenants to connect to their development/QA S/4HANA and SAP TM systems.

Any carriers that the shipper will want to communicate with via SAP Business Network for Logistics will need to also be on-boarded with SAP. Interestingly enough carriers basically receive a “free” BN4L tenant as part of this on-boarding process that they can utilize to communicate with one or more shippers. SAP assists their BN4L customers with on-boarding the necessary carriers if they are not yet part of the SAP BN4L network. However, the shipper should still plan for some volume of training/on-boarding to be conducted from their side as part of the implementation project.

The following are some of the questions around SAP Business Network for Logistics that we frequently receive from our customers. Please note that the information provided below is accurate as of the writing of this post (October 2021).

Can LBN be installed on-premise?

No. SAP BN4L is a cloud-based offering utilizing a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) licensing and delivery model.

How is SAP Business Network for Logistics connected to an on-premise S/4HANA or SAP TM system?

SAP BN4L utilizes the standard SAP Cloud Connector approach for connecting SAP’s cloud-based offerings with on-premise SAP systems. Once the Cloud Connector general setup is in place you will need to maintain the web services configuration on the on-premise SAP system (through transaction SOAMANAGER) and on your BN4L Shipper tenant (under System Connections tile). It is also possible to maintain the web service connectivity through your instance of SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI) but we generally recommend the direct connectivity approach instead of going through CPI.

Feel free to reach out to us via our Contact Us page if you need assistance with this setup.

What version of SAP TM is required for integration with SAP Business Network for Logistics?

Refer to SAP note 2620322 for a full list of S/4 and TM release and support pack requirements for various functionality within BN4L. Here is a high-level overview:

  • Tendering and self-billing are supported as of TM 9.3 SP09 or S/4HANA 1709 FPS02
  • Carrier invoicing is supported as of TM 9.6 or S/4HANA 1809
  • Reporting of freight order execution is supported as of S/4HANA 1809 FPS02

Can adjustments be made to the UI of SAP BN4L?

No, this is not possible. You can control which tiles are visible by managing authorizations, but you cannot change how a certain application functions and looks once you click on one of the tiles. Thus, things like adding/removing buttons, making fields mandatory that are optional with standard, etc. are not possible.

How are the carrier user accounts managed?

Each carrier will get their own SAP BN4L tenant free of charge. Thus, each carrier will have their own administrator user for their BN4L tenant and will have full control over their user creation/maintenance, email notifications, etc. Technically they can use that same tenant to communicate with multiple shippers on BN4L. This removes the need for shipper to manage carrier’s users (in contrast to the old Carrier Collaboration Portal functionality in SAP TM), which is great.

How is SAP Business Network for Logistics, Freight Collaboration licensed?

You can find the details on SAP BN4L licensing at the following link.

In summary, Freight Collaboration is licensed in blocks of 10,000 documents per year. A document is a business document processed in a scenario such as a freight order for carrier collaboration or an appointment managed between logistics partners. There is a minimum of 5 blocks required to be licensed. Keep in mind that even though the document count for the purposes of blocks described above is per year, the license/price that you see on SAP’s website is per month.

How does BN4L integrate with carriers that have EDI/API capabilities?

Currently carriers can connect their systems electronically to SAP Business Network for Logistics via an API and thereby use BN4L as a “pass through” network to receive and send data with their Shippers. SAP is in process of providing additional endpoints (EDIFACT, ANSI, etc.) for carriers to use, but those are not yet live.

How does BN4L integrate with carriers that do not have EDI/API capabilities?

Carriers that do not have EDI/API capabilities can login to their BN4L tenant and respond to tenders, report events, submit invoices and book appointments using BN4L’s web UI. SAP Business Network for Logistics utilizes SAP Fiori UI technology and thus renders well on both desktops and mobile devices. All you need is an active internet connection.

How can you determine which carriers are already on-boarded with SAP Business Network for Logistics?

The list of carriers that are on-boarded with BN4L changes frequently. Reach out to your SAP Account Executive who can submit a formal request to determine which carriers are already on-boarded at that particular point in time. Be prepared to provide a list of carriers for them to check, including their respective SCACs.

Is it possible to use Dock Appointment Scheduling in customer pick-up or supplier delivery scenarios where carrier is not known/provided upfront?

Yes. In one of the recent updates SAP added functionality to BN4L that allows for a guest user access to BN4L for the purposes of booking appointments. For example, in case of customer pick-ups, this allows customers to login to BN4L via Guest UI and assign a carrier to a freight order (once it is known) and then have the assigned carrier utilize the Guest UI to actually book a time slot at the shipper location.

Does Dock Appointment Scheduling functionality integrate with SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) or SAP Yard Logistics (YL)?

BN4L Dock Appointment Scheduling supports standard integration with SAP Yard Logistics. However, other systems (such as SAP EWM) have to be integrated on project basis.

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