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SAP S/4HANA Upgrade Breaks Legacy MES Integration

Automate - Simplify - Mobilize

Introduction

One of our customers is a global leader in the production of wines and spirits. One of their overseas bottling plants first contacted us because the Systems Integrator that deployed their AVEVA Manufacturing Execution System (MES) had used an in-house SAP integration tool to connect to their SAP ECC System using IDocs. Performance was less than stellar; the system was inflexible and poorly supported but it met the minimum requirement of working and so was tolerated. However, when the customer upgraded their SAP ECC system to SAP S/4HANA they found that the tool did not support an RFC client connection and so needed to replace it or face the unenviable prospect of custom-building the required functionality themselves.

Project Scope

The project required both standard and customized IDocs on the SAP side. In addition to the S/4HANA system, the customer also has a separate SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM) system with its own customized IDocs.

The SAP data required to be downloaded and passed to the AVEVA MES were as follows:

  • Process Order Download
  • Material Master Download
  • Shift Calendar Download

And the operational data produced by the AVEVA MES which needed to be uploaded to SAP S/4HANA and SAP EWM were as follows: 

  • Confirmation Upload to SAP S/4HANA
  • Order Status Upload to SAP S/4HANA
  • Handling Unit Upload to SAP EWM
MES to SAP Integration

The Solution

The NLINK® SAP Connector functions as both a client and server, sending IDocs to the two separate SAP systems, and listening for incoming IDocs from the S/4HANA system. The IDoc data is mapped to inbound XML files for the AVEVA MES to consume and the outbound IDoc data is mapped from XML files that the AVEVA MES produces during the manufacturing process.

OPC Heartbeat

When the customer found out that the NLINK Server also has an OPC Connector, they requested us to provide an additional heartbeat interface. This heartbeat periodically pings the two SAP systems via an RFC call to make sure they are up and operational, and then writes the status to an OPC DA tag. This OPC tag is consumed by a specialized systems monitoring application which provides plant floor operators with a dashboard display of the state of their manufacturing plant floor landscape.

Conclusion

Manufacturing Execution Systems are sophisticated, mission-critical applications and when they are required to connect to SAP they require a world class SAP-centric Industrial Middleware solution. The NLINK SAP Connector is a zero-code, ultra reliable SAP integration solution that has been successfully deployed worldwide for more than 25 years. Manufacturing IT departments deserve powerful, flexible, reliable SAP integration solutions that are simple to maintain and do not require custom code to deploy or modify. Custom code and inferior SAP integration software do not belong on the Manufacturing plant floor and we’re on a mission to replace them.