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SAP to Harness HANA and Mobility for the 4th Industrial Revolution

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: April 17 2013

While some analysts may question the true revenue figure that can be attributed solely to SAP HANA (i.e., whether SAP is intentionally crediting HANA with revenues that might be attributable to other SAP offerings), the fact remains that businesses have currently only just scratched the surface of SAP HANA’s potential. For example, SAP recently announced that HANA would underpin new releases of manufacturing solutions as well as updates for existing solutions covering engineering, manufacturing, and sustainable operations. The announcement was made at Hannover Messe 2013, held April 8-12 in Hannover, Germany.

Today, the manufacturing industry is facing another technological milestone. After the development of the steam engine in the 19th century (the first industrial revolution), mass production in the early 20th century (the second industrial revolution), and the Internet and renewable energy at the end of the 20th century (the third industrial revolution), machines, production facilities, and warehousing systems can nowadays autonomously exchange information, trigger actions, and control each other, promising huge improvements in industrial processes involved in manufacturing, engineering, and service. This fourth industrial revolution, called "Industry 4.0," offers the promise of bringing two worlds together—industrial manufacturing and next-generation information technology (IT)—to create a new level of efficiency and effectiveness.

SAP and Industry 4.0

SAP is adapting Industry 4.0 principles through the development of "Idea to Performance," a holistic business approach to increase product and service performance by managing a product's entire life cycle from design to service within distinct scenarios. In addition, "Responsive Manufacturing" delivers integrating the integrated plan-to-produce process. And embedded quality and compliance controls enable manufacturers to address nonconformance through corrective and preventive actions (CAPAs) while simultaneously setting more predictable and shorter cycle times, helping to both improve asset utilization and support on-time delivery.

"Idea to Performance" incorporates new and existing solutions by SAP Business Suite software powered by the SAP HANA platform, first introduced in January 2013. "Responsive Manufacturing" will be underpinned by the following offerings that are powered by SAP HANA:

  • The SAP Overall Equipment Effectiveness Management (SAP OEE Management) application, which is planned to collect machine data via machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and transform it into analytical insights

  • The material requirement planning (MRP) capability within the SAP ERP application, which aims to deliver high-speed reads for a 50-percent reduction in run time

  • The SAP Product Portfolio Management (SAP PPM) application, which is intended to help improve the run time of critical project management transactions

The official press release provides a hefty list of both the upcoming brand new products and those with updates, such as new synchronized releases of the SAP Manufacturing Execution application, the SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII) application, SAP Plant Connectivity software, SAP Quality Issue Management (SAP QIM), the SAP ERP Quality Issue mobile app, and the SAP Complex Manufacturing Accelerator mobile app. Updates to SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS), which deliver preconfigured software and implementation services in one package (thus enabling customers to realize specialized business benefits within a shortened timeframe while laying the foundation for future expansion), include the SAP Multiresource Scheduling RDS, the SAP Asset Data Quality RDS, and the SAP Condition-based Maintenance RDS.

Is this Overkill?

It seems to me that perhaps mobility and analytics/visualization might play a more apparent role in the fourth industrial revolution for SAP than in-memory computing, per se. At least at the plant level, most companies have statistical process control (SPC)/statistical quality control (SQC) capabilities that are interfaced with those of a manufacturing execution system (MES) and quality management system (QMS), and these capabilities are good enough and cheap (PC-based apps). If someone wanted massive corporate dataware, SAP HANA could be of some use.

But most plant-level apps are not really that data crunching. They monitor min and max limits, and if the batch trends start to approach or exceed a limit, a message is sent. At a very large chemical plant, there might be 50 data feeds (one per equipment) every 30 seconds. Each data feed is an independent event, which does not require much computing power. We will have to wait and see whether SAP HANA will be big at manufacturing plants or just another note in the IT history (just like object databases, which were expected to change the world at some point).
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