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Innovation Series – Digital Manufacturing and Asset Management with SAP

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Published on October 01, 2021 – Alexander Hero, Consultant Industry 4.0 at Westernacher

Industry 4.0 is driving maintenance strategies of businesses to include the newest technologies in the fields of IIoT, AI and advanced data sciences. Business models are constantly changing, and as technology advances, even more possibilities are provided to better understand your assets and optimally plan related maintenance expenditures to securely determine and target maximum ROI. The intelligent technologies developed by SAP in the area of asset management provide the platform to achieve this goal, overcoming many of the challenges that come with it. They were established out of the need to provide more sophisticated solutions that are able to meet the vision of caring for each asset on the level required – from low levels of reactive all the way to predictive asset management. In this blog post we will give you an overview of the cloud-based Intelligent Asset Management (IAM) solutions before we go into each of them in further detail in the posts to come. It is important to highlight that all IAM solutions serve as extensions, sitting on top of the SAP ERP, S/4HANA Plant Maintenance module, or other maintenance execution systems. IAM solutions represent sophisticated monitoring and planning tools that precisely indicate when maintenance execution should be performed for which assets. In general, SAP IAM comprises three different focus areas that bring in collaborative asset intelligence in equipment maintenance and operations and have been consolidated into the individual cloud solutions of “Asset Intelligence Network” (AIN), “Asset Strategy and Performance” (ASPM), and “Predictive Asset Insights” (PAI) respectively. The mobile application of Asset Manager is not a direct part of this article as we describe it in a separate blog series.

When we talk about IAM we must look at the topic of data science and the requirement for businesses to maintain a single source of truth for their data. This source represents the fundamental information repository we refer to when taking any subsequent decisions and should ideally provide the data in real time, ensure accurate information storage and be easily accessible. SAP provides this platform for IAM with a central master data layer named Asset Central Foundation. It gives the opportunity to load existing master data (from ERP systems etc.) related to relevant assets and enrich it with further information, creating new data objects with a unified data structure. How this structure is set up is determined by your own definition or by referencing to an industry standard (e.g. ISO14224 or API 610). Furthermore, this unified master data structure can be enhanced with the help of business partners such as manufacturers and service providers by sharing the respective objects with them. During the implementation phase of an IAM project, the build-up of the Asset Central Foundation is crucial – expertise is essential when defining your asset classes, models and equipment templates, as errors in this phase have an exponential impact on the later project.

Similar to the manufacturing network (mentioned in our previous blog post), the Asset Intelligence Network represents a collaboration platform to bring together the different stakeholders of specified assets consisting of suppliers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), customers and other service providers. It acts as a tool to jointly work together for optimal maintenance strategies in a general context as well as for individual assets and represents an information gathering platform for asset relevant information such as equipment master data, service notifications, maintenance instructions or risk and control information. Fundamentally AIN unites two advantages. It provides accurate information from the respective experts, and it simplifies the implementation of new business scenarios. Imagine having multiple different assets on the shop floor that must be maintained by multiple different suppliers. In the event of an incident, you can use the network to quickly and automatically notify the corresponding supplier and even downstream OEMs about necessary maintenance work, which is thereupon executed according to deposited and visible contracts.

Asset Strategy and Performance is an instrument to adjust the maintenance strategy for individual assets and to define what maintenance processes should be triggered when certain risks and criticality thresholds are crossed. First, each asset and its possible failures are assessed and assigned certain risks and criticality scores. Then, dependent on your requirements different industry standard methodologies are provided and applied in order to derive the optimal maintenance plan balancing out risks, costs and performance of an asset. ASPM allows you to run various reliability assessments on your asset, answering preconfigured questions about its performance. These assessments are based on the SAE JA1011 standard including methodologies such as Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM), Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA), PM Review (PMR), Checklist and many more. Based on the outcomes of these assessments, the system is capable of recommending corrective actions to adjust maintenance plans, items and the general strategy. Periodical reviews ensure that the processes are continuously improved and adapted to respective needs on the functional location and production equipment level.

Let’s go from creating individualized maintenance plans to automated monitoring of your assets with Predictive Asset Insights (PAI). In case there are respective sensors in place, master, transactional and historic data about an equipment stored in the asset central foundation can be enriched with real-time information coming from the shop floor all together generating a corresponding digital twin of an asset. You are able to view the current and past health of your assets dependent on defined indicators and even simulate virtual sensors (more on this topic when we take a deep dive into PAI). However, to really gain insights from this accumulated data mixture, advanced statistical processes and machine learning can be utilized to investigate asset behavior patterns and provide probabilities of when machines will run into failure. Thus, assets that are significant contributors to the business value creation and operationalfor the downstream supply chain get optimal care so that downtimes are a matter of the past … or at least unscheduled downtimes.

As highlighted, the IAM solutions offer a wide range of functionalities to ensure your assets get the level of care they need. It is a conglomerate of solutions that work best together but likewise bring value as standalone systems when implemented with sense. In our years of experience, we have seen that customers are increasingly asking for functionalities especially of ASPM, and that the capabilities of AIN and PAI are becoming ever more mandatory as the world gets progressively digital and connected.

Coming up in the blog series is the Digital Manufacturing Cloud (DMC) again and we will finally get to the part where we highlight detailed functionalities and go deeper into the merits of its manufacturing execution element.

Innovation Series – Digital Manufacturing and Asset Management with SAP

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