Enterprise integration: SAP continues to push its march toward the plant floor

The inclusion of Visiprise’s software in SAP’s portfolio of offerings helps SAP fulfill its vision of offering the ideal integrated IT system for manufacturers—one that reaches from the plant floor to the enterprise.
By Manufacturing Business Technology Staff October 28, 2008

Still holding the title of leading ERP software provider, SAP now wants the world to know that it also offers solutions for managing production processes.
“SAP is known for that enterprise-level coordination of demand and supply planning. But what we’ve found is that our customers also are looking for SAP to help them run inside the plant. And that is where the majority of our investments in manufacturing have gone over the last three or four years,” says Vivek Bapat, VP of suite solution marketing for SAP.
Bapat points to the recent acquisition of manufacturing execution software provider Visiprise as one of those investments. The inclusion of Visiprise’s software in SAP’s portfolio of offerings helps SAP fulfill its vision of offering the ideal integrated IT system for manufacturers—one that reaches from the plant floor to the enterprise.
The three pieces that make up this system are Visiprise’s manufacturing execution software, SAP’s ERP capabilities, and SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence, which links together the plant floor with business operations.

Doing it all: SAP argues that its recent acquisitions and ongoing partnerships give it the capabilities to offer solutions for the entire manufacturing enterprise.

The SAP solution for manufacturers is unique, says Bapat. “It’s the coordination piece, it’s the visibility piece, and it’s the execution piece. And you know in the market today, there isn’t any other vendor that can provide all these components as a single vendor-delivered solution.”
Of course, trying to be everything to everyone can be difficult. To meet specific needs not covered by its suite of products, SAP still relies on partnerships to fill in any gaps, such as on the HMI/SCADA level. But the focus to those partnerships will always be on providing tight integration with SAP solutions, Bapat says.
In addition to SAP’s evolving emphasis on a complete plant-to-enterprise solution, SAP is now focusing more on processes rather than just delivering pieces of software.
Bapat believes most of SAP’s competitors “have only provided the software capabilities, and they’ve relied on customers actually building processes based upon these capabilities—so most of the deployment risk is borne by the customer,” he says.‘We actually provide the processes as well, and we’re pre-testing and pre-validating these processes so that when they’re actually deployed in a customer’s environment, a lot of the risk is taken away and the customers ultimately get a faster and much more stable implementation.”
While some of these processes will be delivered through SAP Services and systems integrators, others may be packaged and delivered as part of a future release of SAP software.