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Digitalization and automation are playing an increasing role in the manufacturing sector. Companies can benefit from real-time forecasting and integrations between production plants and other systems within the company. The SAP Digital Manufacturing (DM) solution supports businesses with process monitoring, identifies weaknesses in production, and offers assistance when it comes to scaling individual processes. The solution creates a solid basis for efficient decisions and leads to perfectly integrated production and management.

SAP Digital Manufacturing is a cloud-based Manufacturing Execution System (MES), which facilitates the digitalization and optimization of processes within production companies. This new SAP solution is the successor to the SAP Manufacturing Execution (SAP ME). SAP DM offers a number of new features for production companies to assist with digitalization and corporate transformations. 

With maintenance and updates for the predecessor system set to end in 2030, it's beneficial for companies to familiarize themselves with the potentials and applications of SAP DM in advance. In this article, discover why transitioning to the current solution is advantageous now and how your company can benefit from the Manufacturing Execution System. Additionally, we'll outline how MHP can assist you in consulting and implementing the SAP solution.

Maximize the potential of digitalization in production with SAP DM

SAP Digital Manufacturing allows production companies to manage manufacturing processes, analyze operational and technical production data, and seamlessly integrate systems. This is all managed on a high-quality, cost-efficient and resource-saving platform that is fully aligned with the principles of Industry 4.0. 

Switching to the new SAP production software offers enormous potential for companies. Automated and flexible production processes support your company in meeting the needs of your client base and keeping up with your competitors. By establishing digitalized, sustainable and low-risk processes, your management can boost productivity and ensure that objectives are met. In addition, process efficiency is further increased. 

Are you considering making the switch from SAP Manufacturing Execution to SAP Digital Manufacturing? Our consultants at MHP are happy to advise you and support your management team when it comes to integrating the system into your existing structures. Learn more.

Tools for the successful implementation of SAP Digital Manufacturing

SAP DM is a cloud-based product deployed on the Business Technology Platform, or BTP. This is a central platform where you simply adapt the cloud-based applications to efficiently refine your business model. In short, it enables digital, cloud-based transformations in manufacturing. The BTP Cockpit is the control center for all activities and gives you access to all the relevant information.

SAP Cloud Integration

The SAP Cloud Integration (CI) tool helps you to connect cloud-based and on-premise SAP applications with third-party cloud-based and on-premise applications. This in turn facilitates the end-to-end integration of processes, as messages can be sent and received in real time.  

SAP Cloud Connector

The Cloud Connector is a key piece of software and serves as the connector between BTP and on-premise solutions. You can use it to easily integrate subscriptions and services into your system landscape and to manage the resources that you need for cloud applications. 

Read on to discover which areas of your production could benefit from a cloud-based MES solution. 

SAP DM: Use cases

DM Execution: Digital order processing with SAP DM

Do you want to introduce digital order processing in your company? Or perhaps you want to further increase digitalization in this area of your business? SAP DM offers great potential for companies that are not currently using digital manufacturing or are only using it to a limited extent. SAP Digital Manufacturing can be seamlessly integrated into SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) using standard interfaces. This way, for example, it is possible to automatically transfer approved production processes to SAP DM for increased transparency.

The cloud also offers additional features to support your company:

  • Users can utilize the Production Operator Dashboard (POD) to access relevant information about orders and materials. 
  • Diagrams and work procedures are supplied directly from SAP ERP via the cloud and are managed centrally. This helps to keep the master data required across the different systems to a minimum. 
  • Users can utilize a range of plugins to carry out operational processes, such as inventory management. 
  • Alerts, for example about missing materials, quality issues, or required maintenance, can be triggered in real-time via the POD. 
  • You can directly compare actual and desired values against estimates and planning. 

​​​Keep track of production times: SAP ERP makes it possible to establish a Master Data Cockpit. This means that shift supervisors and technicians can receive responses to time postings from workers, which they can then approve or edit.

These features help digitalize production processes in your company, making work more efficient and cost-effective.

Personnel and process planning: Fine-tuning with SAP DM

Resource Orchestration (REO) is SAP DM’s detailed planning tool. It fulfills the requirement of having a manufacturing execution system and allows you to precisely plan the production of orders. 

Forecast capacity with AI 

Predict future capacity with AI planning heuristics. The REO utilizes a machine-learning model, whereby the model learns from each manual action performed by the workers and is quickly able to plan orders independently. 

Flexibility when it comes to rescheduling orders and processes 

In addition to processes within an order, it is possible to plan the tools required by employees for the production process via the planning board. This allows you to react quickly to machine breakdowns or staff absences and to have flexible order and process planning. 

Intuitive HR planning 

In addition, SAP DM offers an intuitive HR planning tool, which even takes into account the qualifications and certifications held by different employees. 

Say goodbye to bothersome Excel spreadsheets – benefit from human resource planning with the help of SAP Digital Manufacturing for personnel planning and adapt shift patterns in the blink of an eye. 

The potentials offered by SAP DM as a cloud-based MES solution become even more apparent when it comes to planning personnel and processes on the shop floor. Make quick last-minute adjustments via the digital tool and utilize the intuitive rescheduling feature. 

AI-based inspections: Quality management with SAP DM

Even in-house quality management can be improved with the help of SAP Digital Manufacturing. With standardized interfaces you are able to automatically replicate production orders from the ERP within SAP DM. 

When it comes to quality management, you also benefit from the following features: 

  • You can check both quantitative and qualitative attributes
  • Users can also carry out time- or quantity-based checks based on an inspection integration. 
  • SAP DM allows you to combine classic inspection procedures with an AI-based approach. This Visual Inspection facilitates a quality review of the produced components through the integration of an external camera. 
  • A process automation then makes it possible to subsequently generate quality notifications that can be passed on in digital form to the higher-level quality management system. 
  • Furthermore, the manufacturing solution allows you to transfer the digital inspection data into your quality management systems.

Establish a hybrid architecture: Machine integration with SAP DM

Do you want to integrate machines into your existing system? The new solution from SAP has a lot more to offer here than its predecessor: Plant Connectivity (PCo) is no longer used for connecting machines; instead, SAP DM uses the Production Connector (ProdCon)

​​Good to know: You can continue using PCo until 2027. Once this date has passed, maintenance will no longer be offered. At this point, you will have to switch to the Production Connector. This tool offers lots of opportunities for your supply chain management. 

The Production Connector offers users the same features as PCo, but it interacts better with SAP DM and the cloud environment. It also offers the following benefits: 

  • It is compatible with OPC Unified Architecture (UA) and thus can act as a basis for communication protocols and connections from different manufacturers. 
  • The Edge component serves as an intermediate buffer to temporarily store process-critical data should the SAP Digital Manufacturing cloud become temporarily unavailable. 
  • In addition, users can pre-filter data points via the Edge component and only transfer the important data points to SAP DM via the ProdCon – for example, when a machine status changes. 
  • The Edge component represents a key cornerstone for a future hybrid architecture
  • Companies can establish business rules based on services and attributes to manage driverless transport systems and increase process automation.

Individually configure production: Process automation with SAP DM

SAP DM also offers support when it comes to process automation. The Production Process Designer supports the user with the design of production processes. Thanks to its easy-to-use, low-code approach, even users with little programming knowledge can set up and configure automated processes. 

Take the strain off employees who previously had to manually input everything into the POD. Users can also automatically trigger actions. The Production Process Designer represents an intuitive tool for users to configure individual production processes in an automated way. 

Even though a low-code approach is slightly more challenging than a no-code approach, it offers enormous potential that manufacturing companies don’t want to miss out on. Set up your production, so it is managed by algorithms, integrate shop-floor systems, and drive forward the digital transformation of your company. 

For a greener future: Sustainability with SAP DM

When it comes to sustainability, SAP DM includes integrated live data processing to provide a comprehensive approach to the evaluation and analysis of company data on the basis of Manufacturing Data Objects (MDO). 

Advance forecasts for your annual carbon emissions 

The live, real-time data link allows you to visualize your company’s energy consumption across all sites via a terminal or dashboard. As such, you can calculate the total expected carbon emissions for the company at the end of the year in advance, and see the impact that these figures will have on your company’s carbon footprint. 

Utilizing the power of AI to reduce energy consumption 

SAP Digital Manufacturing not only allows energy consumption to be predicted – companies can also use the SAP solution to directly influence their emissions. Here, Visual Inspection is used as a quality-based AI tool to avoid waste or prevent unnecessary energy-intensive machine starts. 

SAP DM provides companies with a digital toolbox of future-proof technologies and control systems to help them achieve their company's sustainability goals faster.

The benefits of SAP DM at a glance

Utilizing SAP DM offers a range of benefits for your production plant: 

  • Standardization: Switching to SAP DM allows you to standardize production processes across several locations, leading to high-quality and consistent processes. 
  • Transparency: By connecting production up to all the other business systems, management can access real-time data and analyses for all production processes across all locations. 
  • Harmonization: By harmonizing data and processes across different departments and locations, you are able to standardize operations. 
  • Simplification: The solution simplifies complex production processes. The user interface makes life easier for users while boosting efficiency in your operations. 
  • Interoperability: SAP DM promotes interoperability between different systems and machines within a hybrid enterprise architecture. This in turn results in seamless communication and data transfer. 
  • Scalability: The platform can be adapted at any time and expanded to include additional cloud-based and on-premise solutions. These modifications allow you to stay flexible and respond to changes – both in production processes and generally on the market – so you are in a position to scale quickly. 
  • Profitability: Boost your company’s profitability by optimizing processes and reducing waste and emissions. 
  • Digitalization and automation: SAP DM supports the complete digitalization and automation of production processes, leading to a more efficient and error-free output. By automating repetitive and manual tasks, you can reduce errors and boost productivity in manufacturing. 

Integrating SAP DM into other cloud-based and on-premise SAP products

A hybrid enterprise architecture for a perfect interplay of tools and systems: SAP Digital Manufacturing can also be integrated into other cloud-based and on-premise products from SAP. This means that you can further optimize shop-floor activities and create an interconnected and efficient shop-floor management environment. MHP is here to help you choose the right SAP solutions for your company and is on hand to support you during their implementation. 

Below are some examples of other cloud-based and on-premise products from SAP that are compatible with SAP DM and also offer great potential for manufacturing companies. 

SAP EWM (Extended Warehouse Management): Inventory management and production 

By integrating SAP DM with SAP EWM, you can synchronize production and inventory data in real time. Thus, management is able to efficiently control the flow of materials and keep storage costs to a minimum. 

SAP AIN (Asset Intelligence Network): Asset management and production 

Thanks to SAP AIN, you can monitor the status of machines and assets in real time. Predictive maintenance strategies help to reduce unplanned outages. 

SAP S/4HANA: ERP and production 

Integration with SAP S/4HANA facilitates seamless communication between the ERP system and production. This step makes production planning, order processing and financial reporting easier for the management team. The SAP S/4HANA and SAP DM integration takes place via standard interfaces utilizing IDocs and BAPIs (Business Application Programming Interface). Pooling this centrally significantly reduces the maintenance compared to separate interfaces. 

SAP IBP (Integrated Business Planning): Production planning and business strategy 

By combining SAP DM with SAP IBP, you can directly align production plans with the overarching business objectives to facilitate agile and efficient planning. 

Specialized solutions 

There are also a number of specialized SAP products for quality management, supply chain management, performance management, and other areas. These can be seamlessly integrated into SAP DM to provide a comprehensive overview and facilitate control across all aspects of production. 

These scenarios are just some examples of how you can establish a hybrid enterprise architecture by combining SAP DM with other SAP solutions. 

Work with MHP to build a hybrid enterprise architecture

A hybrid system architecture is the key to a future-proof enterprise architecture. You can incorporate inventory management software alongside an on-premise SAP ERP system, a PLM system, and other cloud-based products, such as Integrated Business Planning (IBP) for optimized inventory planning. 

Increased transparency and efficiency: SAP DM ensures your production works more efficiently and more sustainably. MHP supports you by integrating the new SAP solution into your existing structures and automating your manufacturing processes, so you can take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalization and reduce costs in the long term. 

Do you want to find out more about integrating the SAP Digital Manufacturing cloud and switching from MES to this new solution? Our consultants at MHP are here to advise and support you when it comes to integrating SAP DM into your existing structures. Let us share our experience and expertise of SAP DM to help you establish a digital and hybrid architecture that perfectly suits your company. Learn more.