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Norbert Kytka, Headquarters PlattlingContact
Nuremberg, Germany, June 26th, 2013: More than 30 participants from 20 companies from the industry, research and service sectors met up at the workshop in Nuremberg to learn about and exchange ideas on "coupling process data with the SAP Business Suite". Just as numerous were the areas of interest, which ranged from "How do I connect my PPS to our SAP system?" to "Homogenization of the interface landscape", "Alternatives to IDocs", "Digitalization of shift books" and "Cross-production implementation of a Kanban strategy" through to "Bidirectional connection of machine tools".
"It's got to be simple." With this guiding principle in mind, the technical background, SAP-side tools and the interface box (EchoCollect) from the Softing company were presented in a number of lectures, some of which were highly detailed. With the innovative industry-tested EchoCollect box, up to five different PLC systems can be integrated into the SAP landscape at the same time. The box also serves to physically separate the administrative and productive network at the company. The individual data interfaces can be configured using a graphical interface, which can also be operated from a central location (remotely). In operation, the box can also handle secure buffering of process data if necessary. A critical question asked by a participant, namely: "What happens to the data if the box experiences a system failure?" was immediately answered by a customer who was present: "We've been using the system for several years, and it's never failed!" In the event of an emergency, the process and configuration data is saved to a SD card or external storage medium and can be loaded directly to the next box. The system then continues running as before.
Christian Raster, a development engineer at T.CON, showed how a process data interface can be set up in the SAP Business Suite in just a few minutes. The PCo (Plant Connectivity) technology developed by SAP is used here. Using MES CAT as an example, he showed how easily the PLC data can be used at a workstation in the production area and how it contributes to automation. Comprehensive monitoring in the background enables easy administration of the configured interfaces. The entire implementation is based on the use of the SAP standard, providing the customer with standardized and release-ready process data integration.
Lively discussions took place during workshop breaks. It became apparent that the potential of the technology goes far beyond the integration and standardization requirements. The ROI also increases greatly through the use of process information at other points of the value chain. For example, fault sources in the production chain can be localized very quickly.