Google "SAP Material Masters" and you get this explanation:
"The material master contains information on all the materials that a company procures or produces, stores, and sells. It is the company's central source for retrieving material-specific data. This information is stored in individual material master records."
Clear as mud right?
Go a little further and you get a bit more information:
"The material master is used by all components in the SAP Logistics System. The integration of all material data in a single database object eliminates redundant data storage. In the SAP Logistics System, the data contained in the material master is required, for example, for the following functions:
- In Purchasing for ordering
- In Inventory Management for goods movement postings and physical inventory
- In Invoice Verification for posting invoices
- In Sales and Distribution for sales order processing
- In Production Planning and Control for material requirements planning, scheduling, and work scheduling"
Still clear as mud?
Put simply - A Material Master is the same as a part number or a stock number. A Material Master always refers to a real, physical item - be it a roofing nail or a Main Battle Tank. It's not a serial number like the unique identifier stencilled on to your personal weapon.
A Material Master catalogues an item or a group of items and might look something like this:
5589643 RIFLE,PERSONAL,AUSTEYR,CARBINE. $100.00
Focus - we're not talking about what a carbine is worth - we need a simple example that everyone recognises.
When you look at the stock listing for a given armoury each carbine will be stocked under Material Master 5589643. In fact - every single Steyr Carbine in the ADF (or at least in your service of choice) will have the same Material Master Number and Description. Weapon serial numbers will be collected and held elsewhere.
Material Masters are one of the sets of master data in SAP - and yes, it is confusing that the word "Master" is in both descriptions. Material Masters are a subordinate dataset within the Master Data tables.
The thing is - we all know that our carbine is actually made up of a set of replaceable parts. As far as SAP is concerned a carbine is a Kit - a grouped stack of Material Masters. Let's go into a little on what our carbine kit might look like to SAP. Yeah - I know - I missed bits - it's been awhile but I could probably still strip and assemble if I had to.
In a manufacturing context Material Masters also collect production times, labour costs, incidental costs, and raw material usage valuation.
Imagine how complex the Material Master containing all of the various parts for a Main Battle Tank would look. If you think of a Material Master as a part number and description you won't be far off the mark.