SAP Data Bridge for Manufacturing – Automated SAP Production Integration
For the more effective handling of packaging and production processes, K+S KALI GmbH is using SAP MII (SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence) to integrate its SAP ERP system with PLC-driven plant control systems for the packaging and labelling of Big Bags and various bagged goods. The direct SAP integration of the automation environment, implemented together with partner IGZ, not only ensures efficient order handling but also offers visualisation and reporting functionality for line data.
As one of the world's leading providers of salts, standard and specialist fertilisers and plant care products, the K+S Group also manufactures potassium- and magnesium-based products, including ultrapure salts – such as are utilised by the pharmaceuticals or chemicals industries, for example. At its production plant in Wintershall near Heringen and on premises operated by an external service provider in Bebra, K+S KALI GmbH, a K+S Group subsidiary, manufactures a range of products that are filled by bagging plant into 25 kg and 50 kg sacks or Big Bags. The bagged products are then conveyed to applicator machines, which attach an order-specific label to each bag.
An alliance of the business and process layers
To ensure tight integration of bagging plant processes with SAP ERP, K+S KALI decided to deploy the SAP process integration system Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII). With this system, the lines can access information about ongoing orders on an ad hoc basis. Line managers start the process jobs in the integrated control station: this results in the packaging lines being supplied automatically with the corresponding, order-specific process parameters. Order progress and process-relevant parameters are logged online, evaluated and then displayed by the line control station. The process integration system (SAP MII) reports quantities back to the ERP system in real time, to ensure transparency about the production status is also present from an MRP perspective. Line managers on the shop floor also benefit from this real-time functionality. K+S personnel can now access an up-to-date database of process parameters offering status data, system downtime periods/reasons and order histories.
While the layout of labels attached to each and every bag was previously created by hand using a proprietary software application, the new process integration system (SAP MII) now forms the basis for ensuring automated workflows and reliable data communications. SAP MII (SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence) generates customer-specific label layouts from the ERP system just-in-time for the process order, supplementing these with current process information and master data. The prepared labels are then transmitted to the various labelling systems (applicators). The implementation introduced at K+S KALI is based on best practices from SAP integrators IGZ Logistics + IT and is a full-service solution that covers the greatest possible range of packaging and filling processes.
At the Heringen site, the lines use a TCP/IP link from the PLC-controlled applicators to report the machine states and quantities filled directly to the enterprise system (SAP ERP). In Bebra, additional filling lines have also been connected to the ERP system, and SAP MII (SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence) now handles the creation of production and shipping labels in addition to labels for bagged goods. To support end-to-end traceability for the ultrapure salts, bag printing is documented as part of a process subject to formal validation. This involves PDF documents being created with Adobe Interactive Forms and stored in SAP ERP. K+S benefits from this lean application of an end-to-end system providing an overview of processing progress for ongoing orders. "SAP MII (SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence) provides us with a tailor-made approach for integrating various shop-floor processes. "The shop floor and ERP thus become tightly correlated, ultimately resulting in higher-quality data," explains Andreas Walczyk, Head of Factory Applications at K+S IT Services in Kassel. This enables the company to respond more quickly to requests from its customers. Together with specialised SAP Manufacturing partner IGZ, production integration is currently being further expanded within the Group.
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