SAP, Siemens PLM and the Race to the Manufacturing Cloud
Felix Nilsson posted on May 08, 2018 |

Has the time come for a complete manufacturing solution in the cloud?

After a sluggish start for PLM cloud solutions, these platforms appear to be gaining wider acceptance. Solutions from PLM developers such as Siemens PLM, PTC and Dassault, among others, are now being launched widely in cloud environments. Meanwhile, Autodesk, Aras and Arena are already there on a broader scale.

Siemens has been particularly active in this area recently. This is partly a consequence of Tony Hemmelgarn taking over as CEO of the company’s PLM division, but is also related to growing customer demands.

In addition to these ‘pure’ PLM developers, Germany’s SAP has taken up the cloud manufacturing baton in a real way with the announcement that it’s launching a whole suite of fully integrated cloud-based digital factory tools.

What remains to be seen is who will bring the most compelling solution to market.

Siemens recently announced their Manufacturing Intelligence, indicating that the company is broadening its already impressive MOM product range.

MOM, which stands for Manufacturing Operations Management, covers the company's software for seamless integration of MES systems and its SIMATIC products. With these software solutions in the cloud, you can digitally integrate product and production life cycles into flexible, scalable production processes that optimize the ability to quickly and accurately improve manufacturing effectivity. Siemens says that the solutions seamlessly integrate with its Teamcenter PLM suite.

“Siemens PLM's Manufacturing Intelligence and MOM software in the cloud introduce a number of positive effects,
“Siemens PLM's Manufacturing Intelligence and MOM software in the cloud introduce a number of positive effects," said Mats Friberg, the company's Nordic manager. "It enables process visibility for faster and more timeliness-based decision making. With this solution, we analyze, organize and aggregate manufacturing data from different sources and build up coherent, intelligent and contextualized information. This enables real-time insights to make the most productive decisions.”

Leave the IT Infrastructure to the Specialists

Today's industry leaders have to deliver high quality, tailor-made products faster than their competitors, while at the same time meeting both global and local regulatory requirements. These are complex tasks that require an infrastructure that facilitates rapid change while maintaining quality. Building the supporting IT infrastructure solutions required for on premise solutions is also complex.

It is probably even more difficult to maintain such an infrastructure in a proactive way. One way of coping with these challenges is to move to the cloud and let a specialist in such IT infrastructure take care of the job.

Siemens’ newly announced cloud solution should to be seen from this perspective. The company's Nordic director, Mats Friberg, points to the positive effects that are related to the Manufacturing Intelligence platform in the cloud.

“It enables process visibility for faster and more timeliness-based decision making. With this solution, we analyze, organize and aggregate manufacturing data from different sources and build up a coherent, intelligent and contextualized information basis. This enables real-time insights to make the most productive decisions,” Friberg said.

Siemens’ MindSphere Plays an Important Role

How do these connections work? “Simply put, Manufacturing Intelligence in the cloud connects to Siemens MOM data in each manufacturing facility. This creates a continuous feedback to MOM to drive and optimize execution, quality and scheduling," said Mats Friberg.

He adds that security has been a big focus in Siemens’ development work for the new cloud product. Data from MOM at both factory and plant level is handled safely in the cloud, where the IIoT data stream (machine status, machine inputs, etc.), along with order and parts-related traceability, is managed and stored in the on-premise MOM system. These extended analyses, linked to Siemens MindSphere’s IoT field data, are then utilized to improve both the product and its production life cycle.

Easy-to-use interface with dashboards and scorecards. So, what can you gain from investing in Manufacturing Intelligence in the cloud? A lot of things, according to Siemens PLM:

  • A user-friendly interface that delivers a state-of-the-art experience
  • A flexible, scalable and easily distributed cloud data analysis solution
  • Dashboards with KPIs from across the company based on real-time, historical asset data and other data sources
  • Scorecards and dashboards with real-time data down to the automation level and vice versa
  • Real-time view of the efficiency of KPI-enabled devices, enabling operators and decision makers to take immediate corrective actions to improve plant performance and productivity
  • Increased asset utilization with exact information about the equipment

SAP Releases a Cloud Solution for Digital Production

As mentioned above, Siemens is not the only company that knows which way the wind is blowing.

ERP developer SAP also announced the release of a new manufacturing-related cloud solution at the Hannover trade fair: SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud. According to SAP, this solution will "help companies optimize performance, increase production quality, efficiency and ensure worker safety."

It appears to be an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solution with added predictive and supplier network capabilities that will enable manufacturers to distribute Industry 4.0 technologies into the cloud.

“Manufacturers with their aim set for Industry 4.0 require solutions that are intelligent, network-based and predictable,
“Manufacturers with their aim set for Industry 4.0 require solutions that are intelligent, network-based and predictable," says Bernd Leukert, board member of SAP SE Products & Innovation. “Our solutions for cloud-based digital production support help customers make use of IIoT and connect equipment, people and processes.”

The new solution extends and complements SAP's digital manufacturing portfolio and is available in various packages to accommodate manufacturers of different sizes, both in discrete and process industries.

SAP customers can choose between SAP's Digital Manufacturing Cloud for "Execution," which provides access to all solutions in the cloud-based manufacturing portfolio, and a second option, "Insights," which focuses on performance and the ability to predict quality.

“Manufacturers with their aim set for Industry 4.0 require solutions that are intelligent, network-based and predictable," said Bernd Leukert, board member of SAP SE, Products & Innovation. He continued, “Our product manufacturing solutions help customers make use of the IIoT by connecting equipment, people and processes into today's increasingly expanded digital supply chain and strictly integrating manufacturing with business operations.”

What Does the New SAP Solution Bring to the Table?

Let’s take a look at some of the features of SAP’s Digital Manufacturing Cloud.

SAP Manufacturing Execution Suite

The Execution Suite includes things that relate to the shop floor and paperless production capacity. The solution integrates business systems with the shop floor, which, according to SAP, "enables complete transparency of the component and material levels of individual and global installations."

SAP's "Execution" option, as it was presented a year ago. Now it is also cloud based.

SAP Digital Manufacturing Insights

The Insights option focusses on centralized, data-driven performance management that enables key players to achieve "best in class performance and operations."

Predictive quality, as noted above, is another area that helps manufacturers gain valuable insights. It may sound a bit fuzzy, but the aim is to get requirements, specifications of processes and quality management to match the plans. The solution also allows manufacturers to apply predictive, "prognosticating" algorithms that can reduce losses related to defects, shortcomings or variations. To top it all off, the solution can also recommend corrective measures.

SAP’s ”Insights” option.
SAP’s ”Insights” option.

Connecting Customers and Manufacturers

The manufacturing business network mentioned earlier provides a cloud-based collaboration platform integrated with the SAP Ariba marketplace that connects customers with manufacturing suppliers, such as digital and computer-controlled CNC services (CAM processing machines, for example), material suppliers, OEM manufacturers and OEM certification companies.

Finally, SAP Connected Worker Safety is a solution aimed at reducing risks, costs and protecting employees. Information from wearables, portable devices and other sensor-enabled equipment can help businesses respond to a dangerous situation or incident immediately, while actively managing the workers' fatigue and other risk factors.

Real-time information enables monitoring of compliance at all times against rules and other parameters.

These developments from Siemens and SAP are part of two longer term trends, one that sees the larger PLM players offering increasing functionality along the product development path, from concept to manufacturing, and the other being the continuous migration of functionality to the cloud. We expect to see more developments along these trends from these two players as well as from the other large PLM vendors.

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