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Plant Connectivity: A New Framework for Event-Driven Manufacturing Integration

Whenever we consider the integration of Plant Floor with ERP or any other Business system, it is very critical to keep track of the important events that take place in plant floor and take informed decisions to tackle the events. The events might be as simple as the control parameters of an equipment going out-of-spec causing faulty product. Or it could be as complicated as unplanned downtime of a bottleneck equipment causing delay in delivery schedule. Real-time visibility into manufacturing operations and taking right and informed decision at right time is key to the success.

Along with SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII), SAP’s latest offering of its product ‘Plant Connectivity (PCo) 2.0’ further strenghtens manufacturers capability to enable real-time and event-driven manufacturing integration both within and outside the plant boundary.

PCo 2.0 is very lightweight application built on Microsoft Dot.Net technology, which can be installed directly on the server where the event is generated or on a central instance. This highly extensible infrastructure provides real-time unsolicited event notification capabilities from plant systems to ERP or other plant systems. It supports sources systems compliant with following OLE for Process Control(OPC) standards viz. OPC DA (Data Access), OPC A&E(Alarm & Events) and OPC UA(Unified Architecture).

Typical process flow using PCo 2.0 in conjunction with SAP MII would look something like the diagram below. Once the necessary configurations are done, PCo keeps track of any event occuring at the source system and creates appropriate notifications based on the trigger criteria and notification structure, which can be sent to a destination system like SAP MII. SAP MII can then perform further processing of the notification based on business logic defined. PCo also allows efficient ulitilisation of network and hardware resource since it works on principle of push from source system rather than polling for the events.

Typical Process Flow 
                                                                               Fig. 1

The intuitive infrastructure of PCo 2.0 makes it very easy to configure the system for tracking events and sending notifications to destination. Agents generate Notification Messages based on incoming Plant system events and user-defined business context. Destinations deliver Notification Messages to respective systems.

 PCo 2.0 Event Notification
                                                                               Fig.  2

Hence, PCo 2.0 along with SAP MII provides a very robust and highly extensible framework to manage manufacturing integration and react to the any event occuring at plant floor that needs immediate attention.

Plant Connectivity 2.0 is available at SAP Service Marketplace.

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  • So what is the use of xMII UDS Server. when is this PCo released? And what was the old approach of integrating plant floor events to erp or xmii, if there is an old approach, what is the advantage of this PCo.

    And btw,thanks for sharing the valuable info in you blog.

    • Hi Hari,
      Thanks for your query.
      PCo 2.0 has already been released in December 2008 for ramp-up.
      Earlier UDS did not have event-driven capabilities. UDS could only query/poll the data source for any data change or logged event i.e. it was a pull mechanism. With PCo it is now Push mechanism i.e. PCo will subscribe to the events on the data source and it will be intimated whenever the event occurs. PCo does'nt have to keep polling.