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Author's profile photo Stefan Weisenberger

Outpacing the ghost car

Have you ever watched a rally race? Or even sat behind the steering wheel, at least of a virtual rally car? My experiences are mostly on the virtual side. While I was drifting and jumping along the race course, there was one specific game feature I’d always fancied in real life: the ghost car.
For the none-gamers: this is basically just a shadow outline of a car replaying the exact moves, drifts and jumps of my all-time best on this specific course. Not a fictive ideal line, just my best performance on this course with this car. Outpacing the ghost car was a tough one, but with practice and a little tweaking of the car, I managed to push the limits most of the times.


I haven’t been “racing” for years. But this mental picture came back after a very interesting customer visit in Paris – always a pleasure to be in the city of lights. We were discussing an amazingly innovative SAP MII implementation that provided a lot more control and insight to the shop floor operator than I had seen in many customers. What impressed me specifically was an approach to show the machine operator his contribution to the bottom line in very tangible Euro –real time.


Running a paper machine, quality is not everything. Neither is run rate. You can produce the best paper in the world, but ruin the bottom line of the plant because you run inefficiently and at high cost.
You can beat your speed record on this machine by adding too much chemistry, and again overrun cost-wise.

What if you could show the operator his real-time actuals compared against the best you could do on this machine for this grade and paper weight? For me, this is exactly the ghost car. Same grade, some paper weight, same machine – am I running it at my best, cost-optimal, quality optimal? Which parameter should I tweak to beat the best past performance?


The shop floor operator is one of the key people who define how well a specific mill is doing cost-wise. His or her real-time decisions influence the bottom-line a lot. But often cost deviations are analyzed long after the fact, end of this run, or even end of month – much too late.

SAP MII provides the tools to empower the operator, and show them their real € or $ impact, real-time – while they can still adjust & improve. Another customer has called this “providing shop floor analytics that change behavior”.

I’d call it outpacing the ghost car.


Picture courtesy of Leonid Mamchenkov (

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