I recently had the opportunity to participate in a project with a client that has a line of business dedicated to the personalization of uniforms for different companies. And I say customization, because, although sometimes uniforms are manufactured from raw material, usually they are imported finished products and are responsible for conforming to the needs of its customers, which means adding embroideries or alterations that each client requests. To meet this objective, they have a small production plant within the company, but mainly subcontract local shops who are responsible for operations of production, including: cutting, clothing, embroidery and finishing. This company is a clear example of the global trend, minimizing the internal productive load and having more flexible systems, which respond easily to changes in demand. It was like the solution I was confronted to design in Dynamics AX 2012, the outsourcing solution that I had read and practiced so many times.

The simplest design consists of defining a list of materials with line type supplier, representing the outsourced service. With this line you associate the supplier subcontractor that provides the service and an operation in the route of production. Thus, upon receipt of each subcontractor purchase order, it is logged at the end of each of the operations on the production order route. And that, in a nutshell, is the process of subcontracting in AX.

For this client, we defined lists of materials with semi-finished products for each of the manufacturing operations, which resulted in four levels of material lists, as shown in the following image:

The challenge

For each one that is semi-finished, the customer is required to choose the subcontractor who would assign each operation, before issuing each of the production orders. That requirement was the main challenge that we faced during the design of the solution. As the subcontractor is assigned each line on the list of materials, the first solution that comes to mind is to make a list of materials for each vendor; but when each operation is able to handle five or six shops, the quantity of combinations of the materials lists per product becomes unmanageable, given that they have to configure lists of materials for each of the possible subcontracted combinations.

The solution

For the BOM line that has the sub contraction service, we setup the field provider account empty and linked an operation from route production to BOM line.

At the same time, the operation in the production route is assigned to a resource of the type provider. In this scenario we create one production route for each task that each vendor does. I.e., if a provider performs two operations, they have two routes.

In order for the user to create production orders, they select production routes to indicate which subcontractor makes which operation, BOM is always the same. The provider configured in the route, must be setup in the BOM and with this information the purchase order for the outsourced service is generated.

I wanted to share this solution with the entire community of AlfaPeople, because while searching manuals I found the theoretical part of how it functions, but I didn’t found information from someone for whom it really worked. So I hope that it serves as a source of support for future design processes with similar requirements.