SAP ERP Integration with GIS: Practical Examples
In my past blogs I looked rather at the general benefits of integrating the GIS with the SAP ERP. Since I always like pragmatic and down-to-earth examples, let me focus today on a few concrete examples, what some of our customers have done in terms of GIS and SAP integration and how they are benefiting of these process improvements.
Let’s start with one of our customers, a major utility which is managing the grids of the fifth-largest city in Germany. They have chosen to integrate the GIS with SAP for malfunction notifications. Any problems with assets are thus registered first in SAP PM as a notification. But now the GIS also wants to know about this! So the notifications are synchronized with the GIS using the UT Integrator and SOAP / XML messages. In the GIS, the (SAP) notifications are displayed automatically on the map as an information object about damages. But how do you get the location without human interaction? Well, in the majority of the cases, the notification is linked to an asset. Since the UT Integrator and the GIS know the asset, we can attach automatically coordinates to the new GIS information object. In case the notification is not attached to an asset, it usually carries an address, and this we can geocode automatically. And then there is the case of a broken cable: The notification may be attached to the asset “cable”, but – wow! – the cable is quite long! In this case, the SAP user has in its SAP mask a GIS tab, where he can place the exact location of the notification for this broken cable. This will be saved directly to the GIS geodatabase and the coordinates also to the SAP database. The UT Integrator in the background is doing a great and efficient job of keeping these type of data in sync between the SAP and GIS databases.
But what is now the benefit? The GIS can do a wonderful job of sub summarizing and reporting hotspots in terms of damages. Why do we have so many problems in this region of the grid? Let’s analyze this region in greater detail! Another option for them is to create a nice thematic map, where colors or aggregated symbols show the hotspots in the grid with large numbers of malfunction notifications. You have a meeting with the technical grid director? Open the web GIS and show him this thematic map! At one glance, you can talk facts and show him the details. You will be leading this meeting. And of course any employee of this utility which is checking, using or looking at the web GIS to analyze the grid, may also be allowed to see all details on reported problems.
At another customer we just implemented a project to capture what they call “restricted areas”. These are areas where some investment or maintenance projects on the grid are going on, i.e. construction sites. Now, these projects are typically first captured in SAP. However, it is obvious that it would be nice to capture the actual area of the construction site project at the same time. So with the newly integrated SAP – GIS GUI, the actual SAP users can enter now also the polygons of these restricted areas. You are asking for the benefits? Project data and project areas can now be captured by the same employee. These employees do not need to have any special GIS know-how. Using this drawing function is self-explanatory. The data are saved consistently in the SAP and the GIS database. Thus erroneous data entry can be avoided. And finally, of course also the actual time for capturing the restricted areas is greatly reduced.
Please remember that we want to keep things as simple as possible. Therefore we do not duplicate the GIS database. With the state-of-the-art SOAP interfaces both the operational GIS and SAP database are updated and kept in sync.
Some of our customers are also introducing HANA and SAP S4. At one of our largest customers, we are currently implementing GIS which will be fully integrated with SAP S4 on HANA. This will be an leading-edge project, modelling the best way to use GIS and ERP e.g. in the investment process, keeping a unique identity of each asset throughout its full life cycle, independent of whether it is being enriched with information by the GIS or by SAP.
But now I will keep my mouth shut. Let me be open with you: The intent of this blog is to convince you to have a nice trip to Lisbon and to join us at the International SAP Conference for Utilities there (April 17-19, 2018). We will have a booth there, and we are both platinum partner of the world wide leading GIS company (Esri Inc) and application development partner of SAP. So – be sure to check out all the news from SAP and AED-SICAD which will make your day-to-day processes easier, safer and more efficient. Of course our EAI tool UT Integrator has been certified for integration with SAP® ERP.
Here is the link to my past blogs regarding SAP-GIS Integration.