Complex manufacturing processes, simple IT solutions
Simple manufacturing processes can usually be managed via manufacturing functionality in SAP ECC. However, as manufacturing processes become more and more complex, the SAP ECC functionality is often not sufficient; as a result, a Manufacturing Execution System is introduced.
At the same time, many companies require a more advanced logistics execution system to manage goods movements from and to the shop floor. This is especially the case in the Automotive and high-tech industries.
How to manage these complex manufacturing processes, but at the same time keep your IT solution standard and simple?
SAP Advanced Production Integration
As mentioned in the introduction, more and more companies are using separate IT systems to manage their operational planning, logistics- and manufacturing execution processes. However, in order to have a seamless and integrated process, these systems must be able to “talk” to each other via interfaces.
Currently, SAP delivers a set of interfaces which can be used to connect your SAP ECC system to the Manufacturing execution system (SAP ME) and the Logistics execution system (SAP EWM). However, until recently, SAP did not deliver any functionality to connect both execution systems (EWM and ME) directly to each other.
As a result of this setup, SAP ECC often had to be used as a kind of middleware to pass messages between both execution systems. Often, this information is not useful for SAP ECC. For example, think of detailed scheduling information regarding delivery date/time of materials required at the shop floor. Information which is relevant for both execution systems, but not relevant for the SAP ECC system.
Concluding: Both execution systems can’t interface directly. This is inefficient and complicates your IT system landscape.
The solution: simplify the landscape by introducing direct interfacing between both execution systems.
SAP is currently working on technology which allows direct interfacing between the logistics execution system (SAP EWM) and the manufacturing execution system (SAP ME). This setup has major advantages compared to the current setup. Three business benefits of this simplification:
1) Independency execution systems from backend system
The fact that both execution systems can interface directly makes it possible for your operation to work independently from the backend system. So, even if your SAP ECC system is not available due to upgrades, maintenance, etc., your operation can continue without delay.
2) Allows decentralization
Because both execution systems can interface directly, it allows your company to create a decentralized setup, where multiple execution systems are located near the actual production facility, though the SAP ECC component is still located centrally. This setup creates benefits with regards to increased system performance.
3) Increased system performance, decreased amount of interfaces
SAP ECC is not used for unnecessary interfacing, which means that the system performance increases and the amount of interfaces to and from the SAP ECC system decreases. (Less interfaces means greater control.)
Oliver Hahn, 2016