Optimize Your Manufacturing Plant by Implementing an MES for Shop Floor Data Collection and Automatic Data Transfer to ECC

  • by Sasa Mitrovic, Founder and Principal Consultant, Summit Global Associates, Ltd.
  • February 8, 2017
Learn how to connect a manufacturing execution system (MES) to SAP ERP Central Component (ECC). Understand common use cases and best practices during the implementation. Learn integration options, avoid common pitfalls, and get help planning a multi-plant system rollout. View corresponding SAP transactions that allow you to review and troubleshoot MES data.
Learning Objectives

Reading this article, you will:

  • View an example best-practice system landscape together with the delineation of ownership and flow of master and transaction data
  • Understand shop floor data collection, processing, and analysis, including real-time statistical process control (SPC) monitoring
  • Use specific SAP transactions and reports to view and analyze MES data
  • Make yourself aware of common implementation pitfalls
Key Concept
A manufacturing execution system (MES) fills a critical gap between an organization’s ERP system and a manufacturing floor. Since SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) does not provide functionality to directly interface with manufacturing equipment (e.g., native programmable logic controller [PLC] support), this space is left for a system built specifically for this purpose. Following best practices relative to MES selection and detailed system integration design, you can connect the two systems with a significantly reduced risk to your company.

A manufacturing execution system (MES) is a critical system in modern manufacturing environments. It controls major shop floor activities such as manufacturing order control, production confirmation tracking, the sequence of routing operation execution, starting and stopping work, and labor time recording. It consumes master data commonly stored in an SAP system that consists of materials, bills of materials (BOMs), work centers, routings, and cost centers. It also offers real-time reporting functionality given its exposure to shop floor data collection not available to other enterprise systems.

Real-time reporting depends on the connection mode established with manufacturing equipment. If information gathering is enabled in batch mode, reports will experience a delay equivalent to batch job run frequency.

For many years, SAP did not offer a solution for manufacturing shop floor management and the manufacturing space was left for a system built specifically for this purpose. In the past decade, SAP has released two products, SAP Manufacturing Execution and SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII), both of which are one of today’s market players in the shop floor space (note that SAP Manufacturing Execution and SAP MII are distinct products from SAP ERP Central Component [ECC]). SAP Manufacturing Execution is classified as an MES, while SAP MII is a connector software with dashboarding functionality. I discuss integration between SAP ECC and MES solutions in general, focusing on best practices for system integration.

System Landscape Design

There are two main approaches when designing the technical architecture of an MES system: (1) a central system hosting for all plant locations (Figure 1) and (2) separately hosting an MES system at each plant location. Central hosting is vastly more feasible now compared with a decade ago due to the increased availability of the worldwide high-speed Internet. However, some manufacturing facilities require no downtime for their MES installations due to the nature of the manufacturing work they conduct. If no MES downtime (that is 100 percent availability) is a true requirement, then the system needs to be hosted locally with redundant servers in place (Figure 2). The design follows a cloud computing methodology.

Figure 1
Central MES system hosting, where manufacturing facilities connect to application servers and databases through a network tunnel


Figure 2
High-availability MES system hosting topology, where manufacturing facilities connect to application servers and databases hosted on a local network

Sasa Mitrovic

Sasa Mitrovic is founder and principal consultant at Summit Global Associates, Ltd. Sasa (pronounced “Sa-sha”) is a supply chain and manufacturing executive with extensive global experience in all phases of the SAP implementation life cycle. With more than 10 years of dedicated project experience, he is seasoned in enabling clients to reach decisions and implement SAP solutions that fit their businesses. Sasa has consulted in aerospace, defense, heavy machinery, consumer product, and life science industries. Summit Global is based in the United States.

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