The benefits of automated, digitalised production processes as proposed by Industry 4.0 become particularly evident in discrete manufacturing contexts, as long as you deploy the right solutions. SAP Manufacturing Execution (SAP ME) is a web-based Manufacturing Execution System (MES) that forms part of the SAP Digital Manufacturing Suite. It is a production management system that focuses on the execution of production and related processes. As such, it is a key element of an overall digitalisation strategy.
Tasks and functions of SAP ME
The range of tasks performed by SAP ME, including as part of a digital factory, is broad. It comprises the following functions:
Working hours and absences can be captured and managed using the Personnel Time Management component. It automatically generates payslips, records absences and takes account of statutory, contractual and collective bargaining rules.
Traceability and product history information
What was produced and/or assembled, when and who by? SAP ME assigns an ID to allow materials and processes to be tracked in detail. This applies to both entire batches and individual parts.
Advance scheduling and saving of operation plans are a thing of the past. The tools in the Shift Planning component allow shift managers to sort personnel deployment easily, flexibly and in detail.
Technical change management
Do you need to modify production during live operations? An Engineering Change Order enables modification of one or more orders in real time, irrespective of whether they are planned or already released.
Working hours management and Labour Charge Codes (LCC)
Time stamps record all of the time spent by employees and machines on a production order. This information forms the basis for constant optimisation and the documentation of compliance with statutory and union rules.
Inspection and testing systems
The best way of determining whether all plants are supplying high-quality products is through random sampling. Whether you choose to do this according to the ANSI standard or as part of scheduled plans, SAP ME supplies the required information and proposes solutions.
Products that are still being manufactured are a relevant part of your supply chain. That is why SAP ME provides around 50 different templates for WIP (work in progress) reports.
The integration of the ERP system with the MES gives you a complete overview of all production processes and the resources used, whether these are materials or work plans.
Variances from the defined production process can quickly be resolved using freely defined non-conformance codes (NC). These document the differences and speed up the process of implementing effective countermeasures with efficient use of resources.
The CNC “recipes” function sets target values to ensure efficient use of materials and labour resources. A recipe workbench also simplifies the management of intermediate stages.
SAP ME ensures that all production and production-related processes interact seamlessly. The Queue Monitor shows all current activities and keeps an eye on interaction between the ERP system and MES.
In a digital factory, where there are no paper records, electronic work instructions provide workers with uncomplicated support consisting of documents, images and other visual representations that help them accomplish tasks quickly and accurately in the production environment.
Dashboards and message boards
Workers can view and direct all of the key production processes using the Production Operator Dashboard (POD), which is the most important UI element. All of the modules can be adapted without the need for programming expertise.
KPI management (OEE, etc.)
Comprehensive management of overall equipment efficiency (OEE) through a consistent set of indicators (KPIs) ensures that the entire production process runs at an optimum level, minimising downtimes thanks to timely warning messages.
Managing tools and resources
Uniformly allocated numbers mean that tools can be clearly assigned and seamlessly tracked. In addition, SAP ME constantly captures relevant information on operating facilities (resources), creating simpler management with fixed tool groups.
Statistical process control (SPC)
Statistical process control (SPC) analyses all of the process flows systematically and provides regular feedback on the product state to prevent deviations from the specified standard.
Integration of machine data via SAP Plant Connectivity (SAP PCo)
SAP ME not only captures countless items of relevant machine data in real time, it also uses SAP Plant Connectivity (SAP PCo) to put this data into context with other relevant production and ERP information.
The SAP ME Skill Certification feature checks that workers have the required specialist expertise. It ensures that product quality is not impaired by the actions of unqualified staff.
Capturing process data
Every second, SAP ME captures countless relevant data points that create a digital map of the production process. This gives early warning of inefficient processes and allows appropriate countermeasures to be taken.
Any unscheduled downtime of machines on the production line costs a lot of money. SAP ME provides comprehensive monitoring of machinery to minimise outages long term, creating a basis for continuous optimisation.
SAP Manufacturing Execution: integrated with the SAP ecosystem
The functions in SAP ME are highly integrated with the SAP ERP modules. By bringing together production data and business data, companies can maximise the benefit from the functions of both solutions. The following components are optimised for vertical and horizontal integration of SAP Manufacturing Execution:
SAP Enterprise Resource Planning
SAP Extended Warehouse Management
SAP Production Engineering & Operation
SAP Resource Orchestration
What are the benefits of SAP ME?
SAP ME can be integrated in mixed production landscapes.
SAP ME reveals potential and helps make sustainable improvements to productivity.
By combining all of the relevant data, fact-based decisions can be reached quickly.
Glass production halls show up current weaknesses in processes. When these are corrected, product quality improves and scrap rates fall.
SAP ME can provide access to production data and product histories from connected sites around the world. This means that the entire company can benefit from new information.
Central source of information
When customers need detailed information about the product batch that has been supplied to them, SAP ME allows manufacturers to access the relevant data quickly, in full, worldwide.
SAP ME: Examples
SAP ME is a key driver for fully digitalised manufacturing in line with Industry 4.0 and the basis for many different shop-floor innovations. Here are two examples:
By digitalising the shop floor and thereby increasing transparency, all data can be retrieved easily, around the clock. Documentation, forms and other papers can be called up and viewed at any location, simply by touching a screen or clicking a mouse. This saves both paper and time, which in turn means lower costs. It is a portal to the digital industrial era.
In addition to demanding customer requirements, manufacturers in the mechanical engineering industry are increasingly facing the challenge of complex products. The integration of SAP ME and SAP ERP via purpose-built interfaces enables even complex, specialist processes to be standardised. This means greater efficiency thanks to the automation of process controls that were previously done by hand.
Syntax – your partner for SAP ME
Production control and management with SAP ME offers a massive potential for optimising all aspects of discrete manufacturing. From simple workshop-based production to complex assembly processes in a job-based, diverse manufacturing operation. Companies that want to take full advantage of SAP ME need an experienced partner with expertise that extends beyond simple technical implementations. SAP ME only reveals its true potential when it is integrated with components in the existing ERP landscape and additional production systems such as SAP MII.
Thanks to our company’s history, industrial manufacturing is an integral part of the Syntax DNA. We understand the requirements and mechanisms of the sector and, as an SAP partner from the very beginning, we can develop custom solutions together with our customers. We are a full service provider, which means you get all the services you need from a single source, from planning to implementation, plus consulting, hosting and ongoing operation with our Application Management Services. We will guide you through the important steps on your route to digitalised manufacturing.
FAQ: SAP ME
What is SAP ME?
SAP Manufacturing Execution (SAP ME) is a web-based Manufacturing Execution System (MES) that is used to implement digital versions of your production and production-related processes on the shop floor, and to execute them and configure them completely automatically. The SAP Digital Manufacturing Suite is made up from SAP ME together with SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (MII) and the SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud (DMC). It integrates the production data collected from SAP ME with existing business and ERP information to achieve the maximum efficiencies from it in this context.
Can SAP ME be combined with cloud-based production-relevant systems?
While SAP ME runs on-premises, some of the functionality supports combined use of SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud. This integration helps manufacturers in two particular areas of optimised processes viewed as a whole:
- Integration of SAP ME with DMCi via SDI (Smart Data Integration) enables the creation of graphical reports with uniform KPIs. These reports can also be extended with information such as financial data, thus providing a basis for comprehensive analysis, in the SAP Analytics Cloud for example.
- A connection from SAP ME to the SAP DMC via SAP Resource Orchestration (REO) allows production-related workflows to be managed more efficiently. This includes the scheduling of tools, orders and staff resources (including their qualifications) to increase productivity.
Can SAP ME be combined with cloud-based ERP systems?
A full overview is only possible when SAP Manufacturing Execution running as the production management system is integrated with the ERP system used across the business. Such a landscape then not only covers the processes running on the shop floor, but also includes all associated processes from warehousing to material quality, not to mention sales and after-sales. SAP ME can therefore be integrated with both traditional on-premises environments and ERP systems in the cloud, such as S/4HANA Cloud via CPI (Cloud Platform Integration). This way, manufacturing companies can flexibly combine SAP ME with their ERP model of choice.