I’ve been working with a client recently where there were a few specific problems that needed to be resolved – the best kind of consultancy project as far as I am concerned.
One of the problems that they were facing was that on a custom report, if the units of measurement were different between the sales order and the item definition, then the units were not being converted properly. The report produces custom invoices for the client, so this is a key requirement – recently they invoiced someone for 18 million euros by mistake since the calculation was completely wrong! For example, someone orders 17 rolls of paper at £42 per roll, which is entered into standard OM. The item is actually stored in the system in metres – there are 30 metres on a roll. Unfortunately, there is no direct conversion between a roll and a metre – the conversion is rolls into millimetres, millimetres into metres. A quirk of bad programming meant that instead of being invoiced for 17 rolls at £42 a roll, the end-client was invoiced for 510 rolls at £42 (17*30 metres = 510). So only an extra £20,000 or so! And that was just one order line on one order…
The source of the program was that the original developer wrote their own mechanism for converting between units of measurement – if there was no direct conversion, then the code returned a ratio of 1:1. So converting rolls to metres meant that the "default" value of 1:1 was calculated, resulting in our 510 metres.
I spent quite some time tracking the problem down – the main problem facing me was that I thought "there must be a standard API for converting units of measurement". And there is. The problem is that I couldn’t find it anywhere I looked – a few reference manuals, Google, Metalink all turned up a blank. So as a last resort, I opened SQL*Developer and searched for packages containing "%UOM%" and found the right one – PO_UOM_S which has a function to convert between units of measurement for a given inventory item.
So, if you ever need to manually convert between units of measurement, hopefully I’ve saved you some time and effort by listing the package here.