ifm electronic gmbh concluded OEM contract with SAP


ifm electronic gmbh and SAP AG concluded an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) contract. The conclusion of the contract was announced at Hannover Messe.

 In the framework of the OEM contract, ifm has integrated the SAP Plant Connectivity software with the Smart Observer solution and has developed the Connectivity Port software to pick up machine data and initiate the necessary business processes. 

Data from the sensor to the SAP Manufacturing Execution application

In 2022 14 billion people worldwide will be connected to the IT world.. Connection options are numerous, the costs are high. ifm electronic gmbh, one of the leading sensor suppliers, now offers an easy option to pick up data from the machine without requiring complex installation and to pass it on to the SAP production solutions such as the strategic platform for interoperability SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII) and SAP Manufacturing Execution (SAP ME). The same options are available if part list or recipe information from the SAP Manufacturing Execution application is to be passed on to the machine.

The automation and IT worlds are growing together.

Keywords such as "Industry 4.0" and "Internet of Things" have made clear: as regards the connection between machine and the business IT world, there is a clear need for action. One single sensor, e.g. an ifm flow sensor, generates almost 0.2 terabytes of data a year. Today this data can hardly be used outside the machine. The cooperation between ifm and SAP now resulted in a software, the Connectivity Port (CP) which can pass information directly on to the controller or the sensor in the SAP systems. The SmartObserver Agent from ifm is the interface to the SAP Plant Connectivity software; both result in the Connectivity Port. The information from this virtual plug cannot only be processed by SAP MII but also be used directly on the machine. For this purpose, ifm has developed the SmartObserver that shows the data directly on a dashboard on the machine - as in the smart phone world, it can be configured easily for every user. Dashboards for the role-based visualisation of aggregated production data on the line or production plant level can then for example be configured using SAP MII.

Easy low-cost solution

The Connectivity Port is a solution for the connection between machine and software. Up to now a connection of a machine to ERP or MES solutions required considerable costs, now the Connectivity Port leads to considerably reduced costs. It is no longer necessary to reprogram the controller, it is only necessary to configure the connection to the controller or directly to the sensor.

Energy and condition monitoring, quality assurance, determination of availability and setup verification

The SmartObserver allows the data to be used directly on the machine. ifm and SAP plan a common staged integration approach in the framework of their cooperation. The visualisation of the machine data in the SmartObserver is to be followed by the aggregation of the production data on the line and plant level in SAP Manufacturing Execution with SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence. Further integration steps with the SAP Manufacturing Platform are planned.

Applications such as energy monitoring are thus easy to implement. For energy monitoring, the data can be transferred to SAP production systems using the Connectivity Port. Then the incurred energy costs by product, machine or cost centre can be displayed. The same applies to the condition-based maintenance (Condition Monitoring): In the SmartObserver the sensor can automatically detect the cause of wear and tear directly on the machine. For maintenance, a maintenance order can be created in SAP ERP via SAP MII. The availability of a machine is detected automatically, microinterference with its cause is recorded. The transmission of part lists, tools and recipes from the SAP Manufacturing Execution application makes the work easier for the operator of the machine, errors can almost be excluded. The direct connection for quality assurance has even greater effect.

"Big Data" from the machine can be accessed

If a simple sensor generates less than 1 terabyte of data, a vibration sensor monitoring a rolling element bearing already provides 1.3 terabytes a year. For quality assurance, image processing is even more important but requires more memory capacity: a vision sensor from ifm generates 3.9 terabytes a year. The planned direct connection to the SAP HANA platform via the Connectivity Port shall allow faster access to this highly compressed data, whether in connection with machines or products. The performance of the Connectivity Port is high enough to allow the transmission of industrial image processing data at high speed. The Connectivity Port as well as the Smart Observer were presented to the public and professional visitors for the first time during the Hannover Messe, at the stand of ifm electronic gmbh (hall 9, stand D36) from 7 to 11 April.

Information on ifm electronic gmbh:

Measuring and controlling - Since the foundation of the company in 1969 ifm electronic gmbh has continuously optimised technical processes in almost all industries. ifm is one of the world's leading manufacturers in the automation industry. More than 5,000 employees in over 70 countries develop and market solutions for about 100,000 customers in machine construction and other industries.

The product portfolio

One of ifm’s strong points is the extraordinarily broad product portfolio that does not only include standard solutions but also caters for special requirements from individual industries. The success story of the family-owned company began in 1969 with the invention of inductive proximity sensors on the basis of film technology. Today the trade name "efector" is synonymous with position and fluid sensors, object recognition, diagnostic and identification systems. The "ecomat" brand stands for networking and control systems. In 2013, ifm could achieve a turnover of almost € 600 million.