Alternate items in formulas in AX 2012

A 2x ex-colleague, Steve Bradford, (I’ve worked with him in two separate companies) posted a query to the Microsoft Dynamics AX community forum here.

He’d got an odd result when he setup the Alternate item functionality. Here how it goes. In a Formula create a ‘Plan group’. The primary item in the plan group gets a BOM line quantity, and a priority of 1. Alternate items get assigned to the same Plan group with a quantity of zero – and they’ll be processed in Priority sequence. Here I’ve just got two normal components (TS-A and TS-B), and one pair of Alternate items (TS-SUB1 and TS-SUB2)

Next I post an inventory journal so that I’ve plenty on-hand for TS-A and TS-B and TS-SUB2, and a limited quantity of TS-SUB1 (the primary item in the Plan group).

Next I’ll setup a monthly forecast for my formula item. I’ve got enough stock of TS-SUB1 for the first month’s forecast, but not enough for later months. I generate some planned production orders by opening the item’s Net requirements and updating master planning for this item. Looking at the ‘Derived requirements’ for my first planned batch order I see that the demand, as expected, uses up my stock of TS-SUB1:

And the next planned order uses the alternate item:

OOPS – that was a surprise!

However, thinking about it, the processing that is required here relates to the fact that the system’s not going to create a planned supply for this item, but instead, if the alternate item is available, the alternate item is going to be used as the supply – so really we need to run a full regenerative master plan across all items (or at the very least plan the formula item and it’s components).

After master scheduling has been run across all items I see:

That’s better!

There’s a common requirement for this scenario – where an item is being replaced by a new item (or version), but where you want to use up the existing stock before starting to use the new item. Fairly typical in packaging. Master planning handles this run-out / cut-over scenario well, but unfortunately this functionality is only available to Formula items – it’s not available to traditional BOM items, which is a shame, because I’ve come across this scenario in those discrete manufacturing environments more often than in the Batch order processes using Formulas – where the formula cut-over is often more tightly controlled.

Although master planning handles the Alternate items well, the production order falls short. Using the same on-hand scenario as above (only 100 of TS-SUB1 available) I’ve created a batch production order for 200, and estimated it – all of the demand is assigned to TSSUB1 even though I don’t have enough of that item and I have an alternate item available.

When I start the production order, the alternate item will only be shown on the picking list if I tick the ‘Complete picking list journal’ check-box (remember that the alternate items have a zero BOM line quantity):

There’s nothing on the Picking list journal to indicate the alternate item and how it relates to its Plan group:

And nothing on the standard Production picking list journal report either:

The link between the Alternate items (the Plan group) isn’t shown on the Max. report as finished inquiry either, although it would be a minor customisation to include that information:

So some hits, some misses – this functionality can be useful but probably needs minor customisations if it’s going to be widely used.


2 thoughts on “Alternate items in formulas in AX 2012

  1. Hi,
    Do you have an idea how to handle the case if the consumption quantity of the substitute item of priority 2, is different than the quantity to be used of the item with Priority 1?
    Has anyone developed a successful customization in this area?



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