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SAP Intelligent Asset Management: 5 cloud solutions for better organized maintenance

With the cloud solution SAP provides Intelligent Asset Management a collaborative work platform for manufacturers, operators and service providers is available. As a work element, the focus is on the virtual representation of a technical system - the digital twin. This serves the work network as a communication and work platform and focuses on the digitization of the plant management.

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What is SAP Intelligent Asset Management?

SAP Intelligent Asset Management (SAP IAM) is the cloud solution from SAP for maintenance, in which plant information between manufacturer, service provider and operator is processed centrally on one platform. The new cloud solution is the answer to the requirements of Industry 4.0 in order to map data volumes from plants in the SAP system and to use it efficiently for the maintenance process.

The world's leading research and consulting company Gartner estimates the number of networked objects that will provide many times more evaluable data [1] at around 20 billion in 2020. Big data thus offers the new basis for later control of the maintenance process. Data evaluations using machine learning have an impact on the efficiency of business processes - including maintenance. New technical possibilities such as the digital twin will change processes and the collaboration between participants in the future.

Hala Zeine, President of SAP Digital Supply Chain, defines the goal of SAP as follows: “We offer intelligent technologies that help our customers to define, plan, implement and monitor optimal service and maintenance strategies. This enables you to make smarter decisions, improve reliability and avoid failures ”. [2]

To achieve this goal, the SAP IAM portfolio offers the following five individual solutions:

  • SAP Asset Intelligent Network (SAP AIN)
  • SAP Asset Strategy and Performance Management (SAP ASPM)
  • SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service (SAP PdMS)
  • SAP Predictive Engineering Insights enabled by ANSYS (SAP PEI)
  • SAP Asset Manager

The various individual solutions are explained in more detail below.

5 cloud solutions at a glance

SAP Intelligent Asset Management maps the entire asset management in the cloud. The basis of the solution is provided by the SAP Asset Intelligent Network (SAP AIN) and the Asset Central Foundation. The master data is uploaded within the Asset Central Foundation, which can then be used in the SAP AIN network, between manufacturers, operators and service providers. The digital twin is the central element as a work and communication platform.

In addition, the SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service (SAP PdMS) solution enables the implementation of predictive maintenance, also known as “Predictive Maintenance (PdM)”. Analysis methods and machine learning ensure that premature information about impending failures is recorded from the data volumes obtained.

System assessments, such as a risk and criticality assessment, can be carried out with the SAP Asset Strategy and Performance Management (SAP ASPM). This allows maintenance measures and strategies to be derived. A 3D visualization of the digital twin is implemented in SAP Predictive Engineering Insights (SAP PEI) and is based on real-time data from the SAP Internet of Things Service (SAP IoT).

With the SAP Asset Manager, the data can be accessed on the go - online and offline. The employee is thus given location-independent data access, whereby work orders or notifications can be processed on the mobile device and synchronized in the cloud.

1. SAP Asset Intelligence Network

Networking is the primary goal of Industry 4.0, which is why the SAP Asset Intelligent Network (SAP AIN) focuses in particular on networking between manufacturers, operators and service providers. A common database, fast communication channels and decentralized data access ensure that all participants can work collaboratively.

SAP Asset Intelligence Network is the cloud solution from SAP for better organized maintenance. Users share their equipment information with specific partners or the entire network. The resulting work network thus develops into a global device directory with common properties.

The collaborative cooperation is characterized in particular by the representation of the digital twin, which enables continuous observation of technical systems through real-time monitoring and thus helps its users to achieve a more efficient maintenance process. Hidden faults or deviations from process values ​​are visible directly on the digital twin and an early maintenance process can be initiated.

By defining limit values, it is also possible for the SAP system to automatically issue a fault or warning message when the limit values ​​are exceeded and for the service provider to be informed in good time before the machine fails. The digital twin becomes the central communication center within the work network, because communication, data exchange and object information are controlled via the twin.

Asset Central Foundation

The basis for the SAP AIN is the Asset Central, in which the master data is created for further processing and then published in the network. The manufacturer has the option of publishing the product in the phases “Not ready for operation”, “Partially ready for operation” and “Fully ready for operation” within Asset Central.

If the technical object is still in the development phase, the status "Not ready for operation" is assigned. If the manufacturer fills his object with information and the product is in production, the status "Partially ready for operation" must be selected. When the product is finished, the status changes to "fully operational". By subdividing into the various product phases, the entire product life cycle is mapped in the SAP AIN and changes and progress can be tracked.

Master data maintenance in the Asset Central Foundation

The basis of the SAP AIN is the Asset Central. Here the user has the possibility to maintain information about his technical objects.

Master data Asset Central (source: own illustration)

With the help of the "Templates" function, the user can create information on the technical object in the digital twin. These can be subdivided into indicators / groups, warning types / groups, causes and damage, as well as the attribute / group and feed the digital twin with object information. Images or 3D animations can be created as "documents" and are used to visualize the equipment later.

For later use of the technical object, the manufacturer has the option of creating “work instructions” for the respective object. With this, the manufacturer gives the operator direct specifications for maintenance procedures that are to be carried out for the technical object. Pictures and 3D animations can be added to the work instruction to describe the work step in more detail. In addition, required spare parts and documents can be attached so that the performing employee can start the maintenance process directly.

The templates, work instructions and documents are to be brought together in a "model template". This template serves as a later template for a model that is to be created in the SAP AIN. The more detailed the model template is maintained, the lower the effort of later equipment maintenance. The “equipment” is then created from the model.

Dependencies of the master data when creating equipment (source: own illustration)

The figure above shows the dependency of the various master data when creating an equipment. Once the equipment has been created, the manufacturer can share it with the entire working network or with a self-created working network.

Integration of external systems

For the collaborative form of work and the creation of the digital twin, basic settings must first be made in the SAP AIN. The SAP Intelligent Asset Management portfolio is defined by the fact that "data lakes" of technical object information can be used for maintenance. To do this, the external systems required for data transfer must be integrated in the SAP AIN. The following external systems can be set:

  • SAP ERP / S / 4HANA
  • SAP Service Cloud
  • SAP Ariba
  • SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service
  • SAP Cloud Platform Internet of Things 4.0
  • SAP Cloud Platform Integration
  • SAP Commerce Cloud
  • other external systems
  • SAP Cloud Platform Internet of Things 2.0

Roles, permissions and data protection

The SAP AIN serves as a collaborative platform, which is why roles, authorizations and data protection are very important. Roles and authorizations for the respective SAP IAM cloud solution can be set via the SAP Cloud Platform so that an organizational structure can be transferred. The extensive range of roles can be cut into different role groups, which enable individual solutions to be set. If documents are uploaded to the cloud solution by the user, they can be categorized according to the following data awareness:

  • no confidential data
  • personal data
  • sensitive personal data

In addition, the note "internal" can be set for confidentiality, so that no other user within a network has access to the respective data. Establishing a network is essential for working with the SAP AIN. As standard, SAP offers three different categories of networks:

  • my participants
  • public
  • my connected partners

In addition, you can also set up your own work networks with selected business partners. This prevents unauthorized persons from gaining access to sensitive data. Access to shared data records within your own network can be further restricted by assigning read and write rights.

The digital twin

CONET Business Consultants GmbH understands the term “digital twin” to mean the virtual representation of a real object during its entire life cycle. Real-time data provide information about the performance of the property and predictive maintenance is made possible.

The digital twin represents the real object by displaying the sensor data available in real time in the system. This creates new opportunities for companies to monitor their properties and detect malfunctions at an early stage. The digital twin makes work easier, especially for maintenance, because the monitoring system queries the current performance of the property in real time and draws attention to potential malfunctions at an early stage.

As a central working platform, the digital twin offers the option of all participants having decentralized access to the twin's performance information - manufacturers, operators and service providers thus work together on a collaborative platform. This means that reactive maintenance measures can be reduced, as the manufacturer provides the operators with all the necessary documents for a machine failure on the digital twin. The world's leading research and consulting company Gartner publishes an annual "hype cycle" [3] in which the latest technology trends are presented.

Not only Gartner sees the digital twin as a technical trend, but also many other companies from a wide variety of industries. Thomas Kaiser, Senior Vice President for IoT at SAP, describes the importance of the digital twin as follows: “Digital twins are becoming a business necessity because they cover the entire life cycle of a plant or process and form the basis for networked products and services. "[4]

This statement is also underlined by a study carried out by Gartner in which 599 companies from China, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan and the USA were surveyed. [5] 13 percent of the companies surveyed stated that they were already using the digital twin, while another 62 percent gave the implementation of a digital twin a high priority. 45 percent of companies use the digital twin to monitor maintenance data that is collected by the technical object.

The increasing number of objects that are equipped with sensors is very promising for the use and implementation of the digital twin. Old technical objects are retrofitted with sensors and newer generations are already fully equipped. This also increases the networking of objects within companies, which Gartner estimates at around 20 billion objects worldwide by this year.

The digital twin in the SAP Asset Intelligence Network

In SAP Intelligent Asset Management, the digital twin is displayed in the SAP AIN and manufacturers, operators and service providers in a work network can access the digital twin locally.

SAP Asset Intelligence Network (source: own illustration)

Every member of the network can benefit from the collaborative work and the digital twin can be used to advantage for their own processes. In Asset Central, the manufacturer provides all the important equipment information that the operator can access. The operator in turn supplies the real-time data from the equipment to the system and thus ensures that the digital twin is mapped.

The manufacturer uses the real-time data for product improvements. The service provider offers the maintenance service for the technical object and is informed of a (possible) malfunction either by the operator or automatically by the digital twin. In the SAP AIN, the performance can be traced directly on the equipment via real-time monitoring.

By selecting different sensors, the user can decide which equipment information should be displayed in the diagram.

Digital twin in SAP AIN (source: own illustration)

User benefits of the SAP AIN

Manufacturer

  • Direct communication with the operator and service provider in the work network ensures more transparency
  • Access to real-time data enables future product improvement
  • One-time maintenance of models and the associated documents reduces the workload

operator

  • Notifications or suggestions for improvement can be sent directly to manufacturers and service providers via the platform
  • The manufacturer's specified maintenance plans ensure less administrative planning effort and increased system availability
  • There is direct contact to manufacturers and service providers via a single platform
  • Reduction of master data maintenance and increase in data quality

service provider

  • Contact with manufacturers and operators on one platform enables new business models
  • Access to a reliable database and history
  • more efficient implementation of maintenance measures

2. SAP Asset Strategy and Performance Management

SAP Asset Strategy and Performance Management (SAP ASPM) is the latest addition to the SAP IAM portfolio. Together with the SAP Leonardo Internet of Things (IoT), systems are networked with one another and integrated into company processes such as maintenance management, manufacturing, finance or human resources.

The system data collected by SAP IoT is used in SAP Asset Strategy and Performance Management to measure the current system performance. Future failures are calculated and categorized on the basis of this database. The users are supported in choosing the right maintenance strategy through criticality assessments and segmentation of the systems. When assessing the risk of failure of the system, a score makes it clear what effects the system failure could have on the rest of the value creation process.

Risk and criticality assessment (source: own illustration)

The display of historical system and real-time data enables the user to design their maintenance strategies, investment planning and risk management measures more efficiently and to increase system availability.

3. SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service

The greatest challenge within Industry 4.0 is to analyze the collected amount of machine data and to skim off profitable information for business process improvements and thus to create a merger between the physical and digital level. In practice, the maintenance strategy is known as "predictive or predictive maintenance" and in Industry 4.0 parlance as "predictive maintenance" or PdM for short.

The companies have recognized that the planned maintenance will also be carried out when the system has not yet run out of stock.Companies therefore focus on condition-based maintenance, which means that systems are only serviced when necessary.

In the future, however, predictive maintenance will play the most important role. The primary goal of predictive maintenance is to use the object or component performance in the digital twin to detect a hidden fault and to have a service technician check it in good time, even before the system fails. This means that spare parts can be procured in good time and maintenance measures can be prioritized.

The starting point here is “data lakes” made up of system information, which, through analysis methods and machine learning, offer users the opportunity to locate a potential fault in advance. SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service supports companies in using this information profitably for the maintenance process. The strategic approach is implemented as follows:

  • Measure: The technical object is equipped with sensors and sends real-time data to the SAP system
  • Monitoring, analyzing, predicting: the system enables failure prediction through algorithms and machine learning
  • Action: By being informed of a potential malfunction early on, the service provider can procure the spare parts required in good time

4. SAP Predictive Engineering Insights enabled by ANSYS

SAP Predictive Engineering Insights enabled by ANSYS (SAP PEI) is a product that enables the user to call up a visualized object status in real time. The digital twin is visible here as a simulation of a technical object in the system. Like SAP AIN, SAP PdMS and SAP ASPM, SAP PEI is part of the SAP Intelligent Asset Management portfolio and can be accessed via the SAP Cloud Platform.

Real-time data from the SAP IoT service form the basis for the visualization implementation, which is visible in the digital twin of the SAP PEI in the 3D simulation and enables the simulation of historical, current and future property services. By simulating maintenance measures or production runs on the digital twin, optimizations for future services can be aimed for. Forces, loads and the resulting material fatigue of the technical object can be measured. The master data from Asset Central, with which the 3D model can be constructed, serves as the database for the 3D animation.

5. SAP Asset Manager

For companies with several, distributed production systems and facilities, the condition monitoring of technical systems is a challenge that is met by mobile maintenance. Because the mobile working method offers the advantage that employees can carry out the electronic data exchange for planning and carrying out maintenance regardless of location. At the same time, the employee receives all the information they need about the maintenance measure directly on their mobile device and can synchronize the actual data into the system after the measures have been carried out.

For mobile maintenance, SAP offers the SAP Asset Manager in its maintenance portfolio. This is a cloud-based app application available for iOS and Android. The mobile solution can be seamlessly integrated into existing on-premises and cloud systems. This means that data from SAP ERP / S / 4HANA and the new cloud solutions SAP Asset Intelligence Network, SAP Asset Strategy and Performance Management and SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service can be used. By using the digital core of SAP S / 4HANA, the SAP Cloud Platform and the SAP Leonardo service portfolio, the SAP Asset Manager enables you to access real-time data from a technical system.

Work orders, notifications, condition monitoring, material consumption, time recording and error analyzes can be controlled via the mobile maintenance solution, which also increases the efficiency of work processes.

Integration with SAP EAM (Enterprise Asset Management)

SAP EAM also works in an integrated manner with SAP's cloud solution for maintenance, SAP Intelligent Management (SAP IAM). As described above, the SAP IAM consists of the solutions SAP Intelligent Network (SAP AIN), SAP Predictive Maintenance (SAP PdMS), SAP Asset Strategy and Performance Management (SAP ASPM) and SAP Predictive Engineering Insights (SAP PEI). It promotes the collaboration between manufacturer, operator and service provider on a shared digital twin, which, by evaluating real-time data, makes it possible to move from reactive to predictive maintenance.

AIN transactions in SAP EAM (source: own illustration)

As part of SAP S / 4HANA, the SAP EAM forms the backbone of this maintenance solution, as the maintenance processes can be carried out seamlessly through the synchronization of maintenance data between SAP EAM and SAP IAM. In addition, the SAP EAM can be fully integrated with the SAP Asset Manager, the mobile maintenance solution from SAP.

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Niklas Behnke has been with CONET since 2017 and is the contact person for the topic of SAP Intelligent Asset Management.
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  1. see https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2017-02-07-gartner-says-8-billion-connected-things-will-be-in-use-in-2017- up-31-percent-from-2016 last accessed: April 21, 2020 [↩]
  2. https://news.sap.com/germany/2018/11/intelligent-asset-management/ last accessed: April 21, 2020 [↩]
  3. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/5-trends-emerge-in-gartner-hype-cycle-for-emerging-technologies-2018/ last accessed: April 21, 2020 [↩]
  4. https://news.sap.com/germany/2017/01/top-digital-trend-2017-gartner/ last accessed: April 21, 2020 [↩]
  5. see https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2019-02-20-gartner-survey-reveals-digital-twins-are-entering-mai last accessed: April 21, 2020 [↩]