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This article provides an overview of how the SAP Event Management product can help the discrete processing industry.

If you don’t know what this is, allow me to explain. Discrete industry products are closely integrated with our everyday life. Cars, furniture and electronics are classic examples. We need a car to commute from one place to another, furniture for our home, televisions for entertainment and smartphones for multiple applications in addition to communicating verbally. Discrete manufacturing may have a high volume, such as when making nuts and bolts – resulting in output ranging in the millions – or with low complexity or low volume of manufacturing such as when building aeroplanes or trains – with numbers ranging less than one thousand per year – but with high complexity. Discrete manufacturing includes types identified as make-to-stock, make-to-order, and assemble-to-order.

What is discrete manufacturing?

Discrete manufacturing is often characterized by the production of individual or separate units. Units can be produced in low volume with very high complexity or in high volumes with low complexity. Low volume and high complexity production results in the need for an extremely flexible manufacturing system that can improve quality and time-to-market speed whilst at the same time, cutting costs wherever possible or necessary. High volume and low complexity production results in high premiums on inventory controls, higher lead times and either reducing or limiting costs and waste of materials.

Source: Wikipedia

Example of high complexity Aeroplane Discrete Manufacturing process

Companies operating fleet of aircraft give specific technical specifications according to their country, travel route and requirements. A high-tech design team would review and produce the architectural and structural design and flow of the entire build and manufacturing process. Then they receive a sign-off from the airline company. To meet the customer demand and deliver on time, the aeroplane manufacturing company plans the assembly of the aircraft components and the necessary resources at their individual assembly lines. The production sites have to plan well in advance to receive these components and allocate resources on time so that manufacture can begin. Each manufacturing site might assemble a specific section such as the fuselage, cabin furnishing, nose, wings, tail etc. Once complete, major aircraft sections are then transported by truck or sea to another production site for final assembly and testing. The final assembly lines perform specific tasks such as joining fuselage together, adding the two wings, engine pylons, and fit the landing gear in the aircraft prior to the execution of systems and quality testing. Full cross-functional alignment is mandatory at each stage and excellent teamwork and management is required in each of the production assembly lines. The final operations such as engine installation, fuel and pressurisation tests, painting, engine run-up and flight-testing are then followed by aircraft acceptance and delivery.

Source: How is an aircraft built?

Did you know?

“Millions of components are required to make one airplane in the assembly line. If one tiny nut or bolt is not included in the production assembly line then it would halt the entire overall production.”

Discrete manufacturing process issues

Consider the following:

  • How can we tightly integrate each and every process of discrete manufacturing?
  • How is it possible to transport these millions of components, on time, to different production assembly lines?
  • How can we provide visibility of production assembly lines?
  • How would we proactively identify components that may have a low inventory?
  • How must we ensure that the aircraft sections pass the quality testing in each and every stage?
  • How can we notify systems testing failures to the multiple relevant teams?
  • How do we advise the inventory team about components that have not been RFID tagged?

These questions are just a few that when satisfied, are able to make the process more effective and notify the correct team well in advance. However, these integrations sometimes look more complex in nature due to the integration of multiple software components in an Enterprise Resource Planning system in order to achieve the result that the client expects. The discrete industry process involved with building aircraft is highly complex in nature because it requires zero tolerance in most of the processes and systems. This zero tolerance approach is not only specific to the manufacture of aircraft, it also applies to cars, smartphones, home electronics etc.

How does SAP Event Management help with discrete manufacturing?

The following items are examples of where SAP Event Management plays a key role in assisting with the discrete manufacturing process:

  • Monitoring shop floor production processes for make-to-stock, make-to-engineer and make-to-order scenarios, reducing exception errors by up to 30%
  • Monitor the end-to-end procurement visibility process including procure-to-pay, and reduce the cycle time by up to 30%, exception errors by up to 30% and ensure that the required inventory is maintained to save the cost of goods and services by up to 30%
  • Monitor the end-to-end order fulfillment process including order-to-cash and decrease the delivery lead-time by up to 30%, increase customer satisfaction by up to 30% and delivery before or on time. If any exceptions errors occur then ensure that an alert is sent to customers and the relevant teams well in advance
  • Monitor the end-to-end domestic and international road and sea shipment process. Track and trace the shipments that have departed, and raise an alert for exception errors before or on time so that they can be addressed.
  • Monitor the end-to-end RFID-enabled Returnable Transport Items (RTI) process and ensure integration with the SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure (SAP AII) product. Raise an alert for exception errors or trigger subsequent processes for commissioning RFID tags, decommissioning RFID tags, loading, unloading, goods issues, returns etc.
  • Monitor the end-to-end RFID outbound and inbound delivery process. Raise an alert for exception errors or trigger subsequent processes such as picking, packing, loading, goods receipt, goods issues etc.
  • Monitor the physical location of delivery trucks, vessels or containers using Visual Business Geo-Map integration


In conclusion, SAP Event Management helps you to:

  • Monitor the end-to-end discrete manufacturing process
  • Immediately notify exception errors during the process
  • Make decisions to adjust the discrete manufacturing process according to exceptions that may have occurred
  • Analyze the overall performance of the end-to-end discrete manufacturing process
  • Enhance and optimize the discrete manufacturing process based on historical performance