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Author's profile photo Tanuj Sharma

SAP 3D Visual Enterprise Manufacture Planner (SAP 3D VEMP)

Growing complexities of any industry along with its own growth provides a way to compete and try to derive best solution possible. Same happened with discrete manufacturing industry, big giants like SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and others focused their will to deliver a best-known solution to make the complex process of discrete manufacturing easy to consume for the customer. Integration of the solution with all other modules of complete Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) process is exciting and a big challenge for everyone. More exciting is to find out the solutions they provide and how they differ and challenges the complexity of the discrete manufacturing industry problems.

One of the solutions is SAP 3D Visual Enterprise Manufacturing Planner (SAP 3D VEMP) application. This application is available as a part of SAP Visual Enterprise Product Engineering offering. Before going deep into VEMP, let first understand the problem which arises because of which there is a need of VEMP application, and then in the end we will try to answer “How VEMP is solving those problems?”

Typically, in a discrete industry scenario once the product design is finalized, product designer proceeds to create the Bill of Material (BOM) specifically for the engineering usage called Engineering BOM (EBOM).  The next level is to hand-over the same to manufacturing process as Manufacturing BOM (MBOM). But before creating the MBOM in the production cycle we need to take care of the different sensitive and important tasks in between. Handover of EBOM to MBOM is very crucial and important activity from the prospective of the production design & its lifecycle management. The freedom which every engineer wants to handover the BOM to manufacturing is very essential and important. And the part to follow up the handover process with the easy is a task for every big giant who want to deliver a solution to tackle the problem described.

What SAP 3D VEMP do?

As I mentioned the manufacturing engineer in the discrete industry wants freedom and flexibility of regrouping multiple level of BOMs at a same place and s/he be able to manage the need to solution by adding any desire custom assembly/phantomized products/packaging processes etc, possible. This flexibility can help to virtually simulate the visual data which can be used to create visual work instructions. To incorporate all the required solution at one place SAP came up with the SAP 3D VEMP as one place solution to solve maximum of the hurdles which a manufacturing engineer faces while handover the BOMs. This solution holds good because of the following characteristics mentioned below:

  1. Managing Planning Scopes of different scenario with one application
  2. Different Planning Scopes types are supported as Visual/Non-Visual/Unitized/Non-Unitized
  3. Delivering Configurable & Non-configurable Planning Scopes
  4. Multiple level BOM management
  5. Routing Management
  6. Special Features as Phantom, Disassembly Materials, and others
  7. Integration with other applications like Snapshot & Change Record

These are the key pillars of the VEMP application which makes it different from other applications. Apart from this the very important feature which I personally like in SAP 3D VEMP application is support of visual files, which makes the working of a manufacturing engineer little realistic. This feature holds good to visualize what is happening in the handover process. Let’s have a look on the SAP 3D VEMP screen with 3D visual panels.

In this blog along with the functional discussion I will try to explain the technical features of it. This will help you to relate the technical and functional fundamentals together and helps you to find a self-learning trajectory without any difficulty.

Fundamental requirement of VEMP

  • In ERP applications, it is very easy to handle one level BOM at a time but there is no application available which will deal with the multilevel hierarchy of BOMs. This makes it difficult for a manufacturing engineer to handover or modify the multilevel BOMs with ease and makes the process very difficult to proceed with efficiency. So, to eliminate the time wastage in handling the process of handover for a manufacturing engineer it is very necessary to build an application which supports multilevel BOM hierarchy in one go. This becomes the primary objective of SAP developers who came up with the idea to support multilevel hierarchy of BOMs in one application with complete flexibility of changing attributes and managing other details at item as well as BOM level.
  • Not primarily but importantly the idea of supporting different scenarios of handover with just one application makes the application cost efficient, and little complex too. But the developers at SAP Labs holds their thoughts together and came up with the idea of modularizing the manufacturing process as per the functional and technical requirements. This modularization process consists of deep business process analysis with advance technical requirements. So, the second fundamental idea is to create which will act as one for many scenarios and holds effective in supporting every other functional requirement based on the scenarios. Based on what I wrote in this point you can analyse this and may concluded that this is possible base of multiple if-else conditions. But it is not true for VEMP application, the planning scope scenarios uses generalize code for most of the execution and dynamically injected the required code based on the scenario user planning. Checks and validations are controlled mostly with the help of globalized constants variables.
  • The third most important fundamental requirement of VEMP is to make sure of visualizing the right handover process which helps manufacturing engineer to feel like s/he is interacting with the application in the real time, and the intension of driving the process become more accurate and easy for them, which they enjoy while doing it. And this makes sense, as your end-user is enjoying working while using your application. The intension to making application customer centric increases the value of the product in the process of using. VEMP also allows user to choose between visual panels or not, which makes it a product of user’s choice.

There are many more fundamentals in picture which plays important role in driving an application with VEMP values, but as per my understanding above three are the most important part of delivering VEMP as a product which revolves around the working of a manufacturing engineer. The integration of the application with other modules within the SAP ERP system plays important role, as a smooth interaction completely change the face of an application. Now, it’s time for me to explain you little about the technical part of VEMP application and how it plays the central point interaction role for the PLM process applications in SAP ERP environment.

Technical Aspect of VEMP

Before going in deep first I would like to make sure that we all are on the same page. So, in the above self-explanatory lines of this article I tried to explain you the functional requirement of VEMP, and now I want to dive into the technical aspects of it. Before going forward, let’s try to make a list of important agents requires to draw an application like VEMP?

  1. Materials
  2. Bill of Materials
  3. Visual Files
  4. Links Between Visual Files and BOMs
  5. Links Between EBOM & MBOM
  6. Specifications & Validations of Planning Scope Scenarios
  7. Quantities and Parameter Effectivity of BOM items
  8. And many more. (You can add other details in comments below)

Let’s now try to understand how SAP S/4HANA incorporate VEMP to its ERP list with full integration with other modules, required. SAP introduced S4HANA and developed new features in many areas and logistics, there are some additional new features added by SAP in S4HANA. One of the features is VEMP itself and other one is PEO which we will have to discuss a little.

In PEO (Product Engineering & Operations), VEMP plays an important factor which enable the door of Research & Development team to share or transfer the product with visuals (3D files), which allows production team/manufacturing engineer to convert engineering to manufacturing BOM, and provides the free hand flexibility to make any change required in the design of the product. This production process of EBOM to MBOM creation is the basis for Shop floor management and production order management, which we will discuss later in time with some other blog. But for now, our focus it to understand how VEMP technical aspects covers all this and this application holds control on connecting different parts of PEO together.

Now its time for us to see how VEMP looks like, right. Then I will explain you the different components we have on a VEMP screen.

If you investigate this image you will see three main components of VEMP screen, i.e. Source Panel, Working Panel and Target Panel. Each component/panel consist of two sub sections, one of which is to show the hierarchy of the BOM you are using and second one is for the 3D visuals (we called it as viewport). Let’s now try to understand these panels and their functionalities one by one in details:

  1. Source Panel

In VEMP, the source panel holds the structural hierarchy of EBOM and its visual displayed. In most of the cases the MBOM delivered is a part of the EBOM specified in the source panel, with some changes in attributes and specifications. So, you can consider this panel as a display of Engineering BOM panel.

  1. Target Panel

In VEMP, the target panel holds the structural hierarchy of MBOM and its visual displayed in viewport. This MBOM you can produce using the source panel hierarchy, keep in mind the manufacturing process. Once save it will create BOM for manufacturing, same as you derived in the panel, in the database. So, you can consider this panel as a display of result of your manufacturing process as manufacturing BOM. In the target panel the operations got added to the BOM based on your manufacturing process.

As there are different options given in each panel based on the functionality, with the same fundamentals, you can add routing in the target panel for your manufacturing BOM.

  1. Working Panel

In VEMP, the working panel is a place where the manufacturing engineer work/edit its design. In simple words we can say it as an Editing Panel. To monitor the editing with preciseness, working panel holds good as it only supports single-level BOM at a time in it. Through this area user can add additional materials as assembly/components which we call as custom specific nodes.

Along with the designing process, VEMP reconcile the MBOM using EBOM for every node and populate the messages based on the discrepancies in MBOM at node level. All together we can say that VEMP provide a better experience for its user to work with specifications and the complex functionalities of handover.

I am binding up this blog right here but based on your response I will try to bring more detailed prospective of VEMP with special focus on architectural & technical aspects. But before going I want to conclude SAP 3D VEMP product as an enhancement to the user experience to handle complex handover process of EBOM to MBOM with the support & integration of other functionalities like routing, change record, snapshot etc. And most important the introduction of the viewports makes it very easy for manufacturing engineers to work with it.

Make sure to drop your feedback in the comments below, I will try to work on the flaws and thanks a lot for the appreciation.

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