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As I look at the first four icons on my phone I see Mail, Calendar, Camera, and Map.  It wasn’t so long ago these were disjointed processes, all manual, mostly paper.  With the advent of the smart phone, these have become easy to use digital applications that work together seamlessly through the aspect of convergence.  Location is automatically captured with photos that can be easily shared.  Phone calls or even a web conference can be initiated from within a calendar appointment.

Convergence is the key to operational efficiency and SAP is facilitating IT/OT Convergence with the Intelligent Enterprise. More specifically, by rewriting our next-generation manufacturing platform on the S/4 digital core, SAP provides convergence that eliminates the functional silo surrounding manufacturing.

The Transformation of Manufacturing

As recent as the mid-1980s work instructions were maintained in three ring binders and shop for workers collected data and/or completion signatures on supplemental paper travelers or routing sheets.

The first step in the digital journey was through electronic collection of labor charges. The typical scenario was for shop floor workers to walk to a time clock and scan a barcode.  This process gave no insight into actual performance however, because workers typically waited until the end of their shift to perform clocking.  This created the appearance that the first operation took over seven hours with remaining work completing in the final minute.

The Introduction of MES/MOM

The next iteration in the early 1990’s was to deliver work instruction electronically.  The first round of electronic delivery was primarily done by corporate IT staff.  In these early adoptions, workers would visit a shared terminal to review work instructions, collect data, and provide electronic signatures.  If instructions were needed at the point of work, a printout was required.  Feedback on actual operational efficiency did not improve as workers continued to clock most operations at the end of shift.

By the mid to late 90’s MES/MOM vendors began delivering off-the-shelf solutions.  These solutions required integration to PLM/ERP which was complex and expensive.

By the 2010s, mobility brought information, including 3D models, to the point of work.  Due to the seamless workflow between work content delivery and confirmations, reporting of operational efficiency was enhanced.  However, real time insight, and more importantly proactive, predictive assessment remained elusive because manufacturing was still not convergent with the enterprise foundation due to the bolt on, silo nature of MES/MOM solutions.

Manufacturing Convergence

In 2015 SAP began rewriting its Complex Assembly Manufacturing Solution into the SAP S/4 Digital Core.  The upcoming 2018 release of S/4 HANA Manufacturing for production engineering and operations (PEO) delivers an architecture that not only promotes IT/OT convergence, but greatly simplifies the PLM / MES MOM / ERP landscape.

For the first time, manufacturing of complex products such as ships, aircraft, or satellites, no longer requires a bolt on MES/MOM solution.  PEO facilitates engineering to manufacturing handover directly into the business operations S/4 Digital Core.

As a member of the S/4 Digital Core, S/4 Manufacturing can leverage all other benefits of the SAP platform.  As such, convergence does not end at the IT/OT interface.  Rather benefit is derived from process convergence across the entire value chain.

Key Benefits

Consider this out of the box functionality that once required costly integration between MES and backend systems.

Within PEO, shop floor users are notified in advance of inventory / shortage issues.  Visual notification is provided in the supervisor cockpit with the ability to drill down to the specific operation of the affected order. Drilling further by clicking on the part number reveals detailed information including contact info and the ability to initiate a Skype call from within PEO to expedite the part and resolve the issue.

This is just one example of the seamless transparency and potential that PEO offers. Considering PEO can leverage all other aspects of the SAP portfolio from the functionality of quality management to the advancements of Leonardo, manufacturing is no longer siloed, but rather woven into the fabric of the Intelligent Enterprise.

For more on how a digital core can help reinvent your manufacturing operations and keep your A&D business up to speed with the pace of innovation, take a look at Value Creation in the Digital Aerospace and Defense Network.