There is a long history of this topic and I have been telling myself that I will write a BLOG on this topic so that I can save time in the reply every time this topic comes up.  I promise to keep this short and please feel free to challenge any of my points as I live for customer feedback 😉 so here goes…

I will start by saying that all of the XSD schemas and B2MML structures are fully supported within the MII environment and any structure that you can conceive in B2MML (standard or custom) is possible to generate and manage inside of MII.  My question to you, and one you will have to ask yourself, is why do you want to use B2MML in the first place?  The reason why I ask this question is based on a couple of facts about the B2MML standard:

  1. If you have a standard SAP ERP structure, like an IDOC or RFC, in XML format (which is how they appear natively in MII) then why map to another XML structure, B2MML, only to have the MES layer convert that XML to a native format so that it can be consumed?  Why not go directly from the IDoc/RFC/BAPI to the native MES interfaces…MII allows you to achieve this mapping in the graphical environment of the SAP MII logic engine.
  2. B2MML offers a standard way to interface to an MES…however, most cases require customizations to the XML to accommodate the “real-world” which means that customization has to be done twice.  Once in the SAP IDoc/RFC/BAPI to B2MML Translation and again in the B2MML to MES translation and I have seen this get messy.  This is why, for our own discrete MES solution, we did not go with the B2MML approach but rather with the IDoc/RFC/BAPI to native MES approach.

We  (SAP) did deliver some templates around this to the SDN some time ago, but our customers quickly realized the points that I raised above as obstacles that proved to be counterproductive to their project.  In short our experiences with B2MML is that it looks nice on paper, but it does not implement well in the real-world.  Plus we offer templates to interface to SAP ERP out of the box on the SDN and since all of these interfaces are exposed as XML it’s very easy to manage the integration between MII & ERP, the only real concern from here if you decide to take the B2MML route:

  1. How heterogenous are your MES implementations?
    1. If very, then would B2MML in standard form be enough or would you have to customize it anyway and in this case the standard ERP IDoc and BAPI/RFC XML structures will probably suffice as your integration standard.
    2. If some variation, then MII content can get you the rest of the way without double managing customizations and allowing you to leverage your core ERP implementation directly
  2. Why are you pushing for B2MML, does your MES vendor recommend a flat file type integration with their MES or do they offer technical interfaces like web services?
  3. What does B2MML get you that the SAP ERP standard IDocs/RFC/BAPIs do not already provide?  Please note that B2MML was designed without a product like MII in mind that service enabled and provided a local XML view of your SAP ERP environment via native integration.

Hope this helps and I welcome your comments and feedback on this topic,

Sam

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  1. Shahzad Ali

    Indeed agree with this in the SAP Arena as it mentions, “Please note that B2MML was designed without a product like MII…”.

    In theory, B2MML is useful when your manufacturing environment has applied the ISA-95 standard.

    That is then the mapping between ISA-95 standard objects and B2MML is one-to-one and talking to different ERP systems would not require customization for each ERP system. So basically if all products start talking to each other in B2MML there will not be any need for development to support communication between each ERP system.

    However, having said that, practically B2MML is quite bulky and supporting full B2MML is not a simple task many a times adding more complexity then reducing in turn adding up more cost then value.

    Shahzad Ali

    SAP MII Consultant and ISA-95 Specialist

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  2. Christoph Lessmoellmann

    Hi Sam,

    let me add another view to this. I am working at the moment with a customer that wants all his MES systems and MII to comply to the B2MML and ISA95.

    I agree with you that we have integrated many MES systems in the past and that standard SAP interfacing technologies solve the job of getting the data into MII and ERP.

    But the fundamental question we have to ask us is:

    What is the cost of implementing these interfaces again and again in project situations for our customers?

    I understand that our system integration partners make a lot of money in providing these services and that our customers are looking for ways to reduce these costs.

    So imagine if the integration from any MES system to MII and ERP would come out of the box.

    This concept only works if every MES system supports ISA 95 and B2MML. But if that would be the case we would have to do less integration and mapping work if we “prethink” how the different manufacturing processes have to interact with MII/ERP.

    And I agree that this is a very complex undertaking but I think the solution does not have to be perfect in step 1 to achieve this significant cost benefit for our customers.It can grow over time.

    Cheers Christoph

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    1. Salvatore Castro Post author

      I guess it really depends on how you specifically would answer the questions I posed above for your implementation:

      1. How heterogeneous are your MES implementations?
        1. If very, then would B2MML in it’s standard form be enough or would you have to customize it anyway? In this case the standard ERP IDoc and BAPI/RFC XML structures as exposed by MII will probably be easier to manage and deploy and be reused across the various locations.
        2. If some variation, then MII content can get you the rest of the way without double managing customizations and allowing you to leverage your core ERP implementation and capabilities directly.
      2. Ask yourself “Why are you pushing for B2MML?”, does your MES vendor recommend a flat file type integration with their MES or do they offer technical interfaces like web services?  The B2MML Interface may get you part of the way but it will vary across vendors around maturity and this means custom code that varies wildly across locations.
      3. What does B2MML get you that the SAP ERP standard IDocs/RFC/BAPIs as exposed by MII do not already provide?  Please note that B2MML was designed without a product like MII in mind that service enabled and provided a local XML view of your SAP ERP environment via native integration.

      The most important question is #3 around what in the ERP standard doesn’t fit, especially since MII already exposes all of these interfaces are XML structures without custom code.  Plus we (SAP) deliver standard content on top of MII to facilitate integration with ERP in a standard way; just have to figure out how to connect to the MES layer which you can do directly on an “as needed” basis rather than the entire B2MML message being required for simple transactions (ie: Production Confirmation or Quality Inspection Results Recording).  Also, keep in mind that B2MML as an integration topic only covers the MES layer and not interacting with the Historian/SCADA layers which means that you can enhance the existing MES (level 3) footprint, in a non-disruptive way, to cover additional areas that previously required lots of highly-customized code to manage and maintain and were specific to a 3rd party MES solution.

      Finally, it is only covering the first “I” in MII and has no value add for the second “I” which is the Intelligence and performance reporting.

      In short the original SAP implementation of B2MML was perfect to spec and absolutely nobody used it in it’s pure form.  This meant customization to create the B2MML message on the MES side and changes to the MII content to handle the new B2MML message structure.  It’s easier to use the standard ERP interfaces and build the connectivity directly to the MES layer for integration, MES-lite extensions, and intelligence reporting.

      Sam

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  3. Marc Blekkink

    Dear Sam,

    Let me say that I fully agree with your statements regarding B2MML when using SAP MII for integration purposes with SAP ECC.

    There is however a need for using ISA-95 as your datamodel (or any other manufacturing datamodel, but I think ISA-95 is the standard everyone agrees on) when you would like to use SAP MII as the platform for building MOM applications.

    MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management) goes further the just MES. MES, as the name implies, has its focus on Execution Management. For a full integration of SAP ECC with a production plant (discrete, batch or continuous) you also need to focus on detailed scheduling, dispatching, definition management, resource management, data collection, tracking and analysis. While MES focuses on production operations, you would also have all the activities controlled for quality, maintenance and logistics.

    ISA-95 is a standard for interfacing level 4 with level 3 (MOM including MES). B2MML is a practical translation of the ISA-95 models into an XML structure by providing XDS files. While ISA-95 is an object oriented set of models that provide context between the different models, the B2MML is a hierarchical structure with only one purpose to standardize the transfer of data. Given the fact that an IDOC is also a structured XML document that you can put in any other structure with SAP MII, there is no real need to use it.

    If you would like to use SAP MII to build MOM applications you need a data model to support you. Here ISA-95 becomes very handy to normalize your data and start building your applications towards this model instead of directly to installed systems. By doing this you make the application independent from your installed systems. This is useful if you need to build MOM functionality not supported by your MES. In the case of discrete industries this can also be applied for customers using SAP ME (MES from SAP).

    Why is this ISA-95 standard so useful to use as your datamodel ? First of all it allows you to describe the plant in its three components: people, machines and materials. Based on these resources you can define activities you can execute in your plant.

    To do something with your plant you would like to use SAP ECC as the starting point, by providing orders. This data, coming from an IDOC or RFC call, can be normalized towards the Operations Schedule Model (What to do ?). When finally (after detailed scheduling and dispatching) the MES takes over for execution you would like to start recording all kind of data. ISA-95 provides the Operation Performance Model for this (What did we do?). Normally level 3 keeps also some machine specific data and/or recipes or procedures for which ISA-95 provides the Operation Definition Model (How to do it?). Finally you would like to provide your scheduling software with up-to-date availability information in the Operations Capability Model (What can we do?). The beauty of ISA-95 is that all these models are connected (something you loose in B2MML, but also do not need for an interface, but only for applications).

    That is why there is a nice RDS available in the SAP store to get you started quickly to implement this framework and turn SAP MII into a MOM applications framework.

    https://store.sap.com/sap/cpa/ui/resources/store/html/Search.html?pcntry=BE&sap-language=NL&catID=&searchText=veri95&fac…

    Best regards,

    Marc Blekkink

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  4. Charles Gifford

    Good Day Gentlemen, With all respect, I have been asked to provide input to this discussion as a customer representative with some counter point on why the use of B2MML and ISA-95 approaches are important and required in integrating manufacturing operations systems into an ERP, SAP or other, as well as other Level 4 and supply chain applications.

    Let start with Sam’s original points.

    1. “Why do you want to use B2MML in the first place?” 

    The ISA-95 objects have evolved and refined over 20 years of application to represent the data exchanged across 64+ B2M and 20+ M2M data exchanges required for supporting and executing the Level 3 operations management activities, tasks and work processes. This is not just the traditional “MES” exchanges to ERP of order scheduling/dispatch, tracking, and performance-to-schedule. This is a limited “native” MES interface set.

    As majority of manufacturing plants over the last 15 years have moved from characterized low SKU Make-to-stock to uncharacterized high SKU Make-to-Order, the required number and types of plant systems interfaces have grown exponentially.  The real-world reality is that the ERP interfaces grow exponentially after initial implementation as products and processes continually change. Additionally, there are typically 30-50 applications in every plant required to execute the ERP scheduled production order that must then be orchestrated between production, quality, maintenance, and in-plant inventory movements operations, and then between in-bound/outbound supply chain operations.  These 30+ applications (including the ERP (resource planning, master scheduling and reconciliation of inventory and financials)) typically ALL speak a different language (metadata) and contain master data artifacts used specifically for their operations workflows and business processes (3000-10,000 data elements in each plant). Many are the actual systems-of-record for Level 2 and Level 3 master data. The issues with the presented MII approach is data integrity. Across these plant systems located at the department, area, and line levels, There exists 3-6 different names for same resource and process object where those objects are then represented in different versions/interpretations of the plant process model in their data base structures. So if even the data is collected or presented accurately in the ERP, department or activity based application, the data integrity is lost as the data is exchanged between another single application like MII/SAP which stores the data in their different representation of the plant processes in their ERP data model. ERP applications specifically model for resource planning processes, not for manufacturing operations real-time processes and activities. MOM activities detailed scheduling, dispatching, execution to process control) require an increasingly granular data sets for each activity and its supported workflows. Each activity’s data set must be put into a contextualized single plant model (site, area, work center, unit) to provide data integrity for processes, analysis, reporting, business intelligence, and interfaces. This is what I have personally seen in over 10 SAP customers as they realize over 5-10 years after implementation to support their inaccurate BPM and BI for decision making. This is what the ISA-95 methods do by simultaneous applying plant modeling and objects modeling for operations processes, resources and rule sets.  Whether using the B2MML schema as XML or web services, the exchanges provided with this context elements maintain data integrity.  Marc from Inxite has the Veri95 product that provides this functionality for MII.  This is an innovative product for manufacturing and business intelligent by providing master data management across the plants.


    2. “B2MML offers a standard way to interface to an MES, however, most cases require customizations to the XML to accommodate the real-world which means that customization has to be done twice.” The last B2MML mapping to the 95 standard that SAP MII published was in 2008 for B2MML 3.0. Yes, SAP customers had issues with this version with messy customization.  But many of those same customers then worked with the committees to create the current version of B2MML is 6.0 based on updated 2010-2013 versions of the Part 1 and 2 objects as well the new Level 3 M2M work objects in Part 4.  These objects and schema are greatly improved through 15 years of maturity.  The issue for software vendors, SIs and end user is education and engagement on how to properly apply the ISA-95 framework and objects so that the B2MML requires much less customization (if none at all).  With this said, the construction of any operations management information model for integration and reporting requires the documenting the process specific rules and customizations for proper implementation and lifecycle governance.  Data integrity requires governance and documentation in a make-to-order world.  95/B2MML is a mature framework and now gets the end user 80% there in a contextualized form where the MII objects get the customer only 20-40% there in a non-contextualize MOM form that require much more lifecycle customization and redesign.  This has been shown across many SAP B2MML customers’ lifecycle experience.  SAP has not seriously participated in the ISA-95 and B2MML development over 20 years even though dozens of customers and partners have asked them to get involved after they found great value in master data management and data integrity.  SAP is always welcome.  Many MES/MOM vendors and most enterprise SIs have participated and use ISA-95 equipment-role hierarchies to contextualize their meta data as framework for their corporate methodologies for requirements and governance.


    3. “Most MES and MOM (quality, maintenance, inventory) vendors do not do flat file integration.”

    B2MML is done with XML and services forms by many vendors and end users now.


    To address Shahzad’s comments:

    1. In actual lifecycle practice, most B2MML and ISA-95 implementations are applied across years and many projects as part of a manufacturing systems architecture transformation program.  The early projects in any manufacturing architecture transformation do not apply a one-to-one mapping of 95 vendor objects to B2MML. Most early mapping are from non-95 vendor objects into a B2MML form to rationalize the disparate meta data across the 30+ MOM applications to gradually migrate to a single information model for integration for accurate analysis, metrics and reporting.  It is non-practical to ever think that all MOM vendors will build their products’ meta data to 95 objects.  To many industries with too many process languages/objects.  This is exactly why the 95 objects are used to rationalize applications through a 95 framework approach to a single communication language for optimizing real-time rules-based work processes with accurate data. 


    2. As far as B2MML being bulky, you need to view each process and resource schema as a container of a super set of elements where each actual exchange applies only those elements necessary to support the work or business process.  For example, Remember that from PLM to ERP to dispatch to execution, the “BOM” has many forms from engineering to ERP/scheduling to manufacturing execution.  I have worked with customers who have from 5 to 12 levels to their various BOMs.


    To address Sam’s 2nd comment:

    1. “Finally, it is only covering the first “I” in MII and has no value add for the second “I” which is the Intelligence and performance reporting.”

    This statement shows me that Sam and I need to talk.  B2MML is used by 10s and 10s of their customers for intelligence and performance analysis and reporting specially since the 95 objects are contextualized as an manufacturing intelligence framework.


    2. “In short the original SAP implementation of B2MML was perfect to spec and absolutely nobody used it in it’s pure form.” 

    The SAP implementation is based on the 2001 version of Part 1 and Part 2 in B2MML Version 3.0. If SAP had participated in the 2010-13 updates and the drafting the Part 4 MOM objects, I believe that SAP would find the schema have dramatically improved.  They are not perfect but are much better and applied by a large set of vendors, SIs and other standards’ organizations.


    3. “It’s easier to use the standard ERP interfaces and build the connectivity directly to the MES layer for integration, MES-lite extensions, and intelligence reporting.”

    I and many of your customers who have had to live with and then move to a MOM contextualized information model will have to agree to disagree with your opinion.  Most of the BPM and EAI vendors in the Gartner Leaders and Visionaries Quadrants are applying the rationalizing of application meta data into a process-contextualize information model in an agnostic form, not an SAP form. 

    This whole conversation is about MOM Data and master data management for data accuracy across manufacturing operations and supply chain operations. Not just ERP processes and data management. We, of course, can all learn from each other.  But engagement and dialog is required for understanding and advancement.


    Kindest Regards

    Charlie Gifford, PMP

    General Manager, Senior Advanced Manufacturing Consultant

    Intelligent Manufacturing Institute

    21st Century Manufacturing Solutions LLC

    charlie.gifford@cox.net

    TQM Facilitator TQM Process Action Team Leader

    Founder and Chair, ISA-95 MOM Best Practice Working Group

    MESA Authorized Instructor

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