The Automated Asset Exchange

March 17, 2016
SAP’s Asset Intelligence Network will be a cloud-based global registry of industrial equipment that will facilitate data exchange between suppliers and manufacturers.

Over the past year or so, as the discussion around the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) heats up, we are hearing more from suppliers who are looking to leverage smart devices and the connected cloud to deliver asset management services. It’s a service that manufacturers are willing to adopt, as it takes the burden of maintaining equipment off of them while giving suppliers the ability to proactively fix something before it becomes a problem—thereby decreasing downtime.

But, while a great idea, there is a lot of paper-based documentation that exists with every asset, and a point-to-point connection to a machine isn’t necessarily going to enable the kind of predictive analytics that the manufacturer needs.

Data needs to be digitized and shared between enterprise applications, and the cloud needs to be used for better collaboration and analytics. And, SAP is working on a way to deliver all that.

The SAP Asset Intelligence Network, currently in development and ready to be officially unveiled at Hannover Fair next month, is a digital hub where design documents can be uploaded enabling asset operators, OEMs, and service suppliers to share up-to-date information around specifications and maintenance strategies. It is basically creating a digital twin of the physical asset and a global registry of model and equipment information that will simplify collaboration between all stakeholders.

“When you introduce an asset into an operational environment, formerly it would mean having a lot of documentation and data to digest. Our approach is to move to a cloud-based business network where OEMs can contribute asset information and operators can consume information and directly link it to the system so that there is always accurate information about the asset,” said Achim Krüger, vice president of operational excellence solutions at SAP.

In many ways, the Asset Intelligence Network is mirroring what SAP’s Ariba Network is doing for B2B buying and selling, which provides community-shared best practices and collaboration for business commerce.

In the Asset Intelligence Network, operators are also able to share engineering data from other enterprise applications such as SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) and SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). And, if equipment configurations are modified, data can be driven back through the network in real time to increase efficiency and productivity.

On the backend, SAP’s S/4 HANA, high-speed, in-memory database, which, using IIoT interfaces, can quickly pull factory floor data and put it into business context. But, the key to achieving seamless data exchange is getting manufacturers to agree to a common set of definitions and processes, and that’s why SAP has enlisted the help of manufacturers across a variety of asset-intensive industrial segments to join the development.

When it comes to IIoT, the cloud and asset management, SAP can’t do this alone. “At the end of the day it is about connectedness,” Krüger said.

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