Authors: Gianluigi Bagnoli, Cesare Calabria, Stuart Clarke, Dayanand Karalkar, Yatsea Li, Alice Magnani, Jacob Tan
Sustainability is a real thing.
No doubt sustainability is a hot topic in recent years. To have a sustainable environment for future generations, we need to take climate action for zero emission of greenhouse gas. In our economy, we should embrace a new circular economy model instead of the traditional take-make-waste linear model for zero waste. In our society, we fight against injustice and inequality for zero inequality.
At SAP sustainability is now way more than a buzzword, but a real key piece of our concrete strategy.
Our CEO Christian Klein stated at the last SAPPHIRE that SAP is "going to add a green ledger in our ERP so you can account for carbon as you account for financials today. Only SAP can offer you reliable ESG data for your enterprise. Based on this transparency, your business can take action.”
So, companies need to account not only for "profit" objectives but nowadays they need to take responsibility of "planet" ones, and SAP is going to deliver capabilities for that either in our core and in other specific LOB products.
And you, as a partner, can you contribute to this ? the answer is a clear YES, and this article is to cast some light on how you can. Of course, the key enabler for you partner is our platform SAP Business Technology Platform and we are going to explore in this blog series how you could leverage advanced services of BTP to build intelligent business scenarios to add sustainability to your solution portfolio.
OK. Let's get really real now.
Now, instead of three hundred PowerPoint slides, let's use a real world scenario. Let's imagine a very traditional manufacturing company that has been producing Light Guide Plates (LGP) used in LED panels since 2008. Let's imagine that this company is based in Milan, Italy and that they adopted SAP S/4HANA Cloud as their digital core since 2020.
Now, its owners have a vision to become a sustainable and smart company by reducing waste and improving production efficiency and workplace safety, so they decide to hire an SAP gold partner to guide them in the implementation of their vision. In their vision "profit" and "planet" are not exclusive but they go together: they want to improve their business while getting more responsible to the planet. Let's go through their journey and see how they want to make their company follow the mantra of sustainability: "Zero Waste", "Zero Emissions", "Zero Inequalities".
First at all, waste. In a manufacturing company waste has a big impact, obviously on the "planet" dimension but also very clearly on the "profit" one. Every piece that is not manufactured according to some quality measure cannot be sold and needs to be thrown away - with a big loss in terms of resources, time, machine time, material and in general a loss of profit. Plus, the planet resources are just, well, wasted with no outcome.
Then, emissions. Especially these days the sub-optimal usage of energy has a huge impact on CO2 emissions together with an increase of expenses, and this is truer in activities such as manufacturing that depend a lot on energy costs. If the machines in the product line are not efficient then this has an impact either on the "planet" and on the "profit" dimension.
Finally, inequality and job conditions. Workplace safety has a very high priority in a manufacturing company and this is strictly tied to the conditions of the machines. Besides, prices of what the company produces have a big impact on consumers - especially now where rising inflation has become a big point in the agenda of the global economy.
So, the mandate for the SAP partner is to equip the company with a solution that improves these three dimensions and quantifies in a measurable and concrete way all these improvements. This is where SAP BTP comes into the game, with all its intelligent features.
One first activity is to automate the quality inspection process and introduce some flexibility that makes the profit loss more manageable. Sometimes quality is not a black-and-white story. There could be trade-offs that make a piece still sellable at a lesser level of quality, with a lower price. So the production line will get instrumented with cameras that get digital images of the products and some intelligence is then used to classify them into different categories: full quality, acceptable quality, no quality etc. For doing so Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) are used to identify possible faults in the products and classify them according to the level of defect. We will see how it is possible to build these CNNs and inject them into SAP BTP AI Core.
Another activity is to instrument the machineries with sound sensors, catch these sounds and again with CNNs detect possible anomalies that could lead to a failure or a fault. In this way we can move our machinery maintenance policy from reactive or preventive to proactive and then increase the efficiency of our production line. We will show how to build the models behind these CNNs and again how it is possible to inject them into SAP BTP AI Core.
Of course we want to drive and manage all the quality process and proactive maintenance from our core S/4HANA - in a seamlessly integrated look-and-feel. We will then show how to extend SAP S4/4HANA Cloud Asset Management with these capabilities.
Finally, we want to measure the impact for the company along the "profit" and "planet" dimensions, predict the future improvements and also play with some what-if analysis. We will show how to use SAP Analytics Cloud Planning capabilities to analyze the maintenance data into S4/HANA plus a set of external publicly available data relative to CO2 emission trends, energy costs and the like.
What's next ?
In the next blog-posts we will go through this journey, detailing all the different pieces, of course all of them on top of BTP. Here's the full program: