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SAP R&D/Engineering solutions help manufacturers move their businesses into the digital world


Reimagine PRODUCTS, reimagine BUSINESS PROCESSES, reimagine WORK, and reimagine BUSINESS MODELS are the main drivers of most discussions in the context of the digitalization of industrial machinery and components (IM&C) industry.

Today, many manufactures focus on all four of the above “re-imaginations,” but depending on the focus and goals of their R&D/Engineering departments, the intensity level of that focus may vary. Faster innovation cycle times, higher costs, and shorter time to market expectations are making R&D/Engineering organization become more centralized, and in turn, even more digitalized.

Ever-evolving customer requirements drive the need for innovative tools like digital twins, xBoMs, or system thinking. As R&D/Engineering groups are at the beginning of the corporate value chain, the impact they have on subsequent business processes is even higher and more significant than the potential value driven by other lines of businesses.

How Tennant has reimagined the cleaning world

Let us take a look at an SAP customer that has reimagined their business processes through the digitalization of their end products. Tennant Company is a world leader in designing, manufacturing, and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world.

Reimagine Products : Tennant connected their cleaning equipment to their proprietary IRIS Asset Management system by equipping their products with sensors and connectivity capabilities.

Reimagine Business Processes : Several processes were improved by leveraging usage-based information like service parts management, service scheduling, and particularly, the automation of consumable and spare parts replacement. Tennant offers a combination of original equipment, consumables, spare parts, and services to their customers. Tennant uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to determine when the cleaning chemical in the machine is close to running out, so it can be replenished in a timely manner. Thanks to this preventive and proactive process, Tennant can keep their end customers happy by insuring that they never run out of materials, resulting in zero time lost to inoperable equipment or lack of supplies.

Reimagine Work : Based on extremely accurate monitoring of the original equipment through the IoT, service technicians can be more productive in terms of asset utilization and maintenance scheduling.

Reimagine Business Models : By digitally connecting their cleaning equipment to an asset management system through sensor technology, Tennant has laid the initial foundation and set up all the prerequisites to establish new business models, like usage-based billing or “power by the hour.”

The SAP point of view

SAP’s perspective is that best-of-breed solutions and the costly customizations required to integrate them are not very well suited to work well with the entire end-to-end value chain, which is also in a state of digital transformation currently.

Integrated products and solutions that fit together by default and can be quickly and easily connected across various systems and organizations will naturally be leveraged to create a holistic, customer-specific value stream. The different solutions must fit together like the gears in a gear box, independent of the gear assembly sequence, and much more effective than best-of-breed solutions.

This picture shows how SAP’s solutions and products fit seamless each other.

MAN Diesel & Turbo reimagines its R&D/engineering processes

MAN Diesel & Turbo SE is a multinational company based in Augsburg, Germany that produces large-bore diesel engines and turbo machinery for marine and stationary applications, such as marine propulsion systems, power plant applications, and turbochargers.

To stay competitive MAN Diesel & Turbo SE needed to increase the standardization of their diesel engines. More sophisticated configuration capabilities are now required to react quickly and efficiently to customer requests. A more automated transition from product structure to manufacturing bill of material was required to reduce customer specific development time and compress the handover cycle time from engineering to manufacturing.

The real innovation is the handover from the product structure to the manufacturing bill of material, especially in regard to adjustments made based on the configuration and during the engineering change management process. SAP PLM including Product Structure Management (PSM) and Product Structure Synchronization (PSS) are the core solutions to help solve the problem of lengthy delays between engineering and manufacturing. Increased and improved standardization as well an automated handover process from development to manufacturing are just two of the many benefits which MAN Diesel & Turbo SE has achieved.

There are many more examples of how SAP customers are transforming their businesses to profitably adapt to the digitalized world. If you are interested in more examples and possibilities in the R&D/Engineering line of business, please contact me directly.


Bernhard Meyer, SAP industry solution manager for IM&C (industrial machinery and components)

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