Building the Digital Twin Stack

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Key Takeaways

⇨ Manufacturing plays a crucial role in supply chain networks, and recent events have emphasized its importance in building supply chain resiliency and agility.

⇨ Digital twins capability has been consistently highlighted by SAPinsiders as key to building resilient, agile, and optimized manufacturing capability.

⇨ SAP technology ecosystem provides a robust set of technologies to build digital twin stack.

As supply chain challenges increase because of increasing supply chain complexities, organizations are increasingly looking at leveraging data and analytics tools and technologies to help them address their supply chain challenges. Manufacturing plays a crucial role in supply chain networks, and recent events have emphasized its importance in building supply chain resiliency and agility. We have emphasized this in our recent supply chain research reports, Supply Chain Planning in The Cloud and Process Automation in Supply Chain. SAPinsiders are increasingly evaluating their portfolio of manufacturing systems and technologies and looking to upgrade to align with the requirements of modern manufacturing. SAPinsder’s April 2022 report, Manufacturing Management, and Planning Benchmark Report, will explore the pain points SAPinsiders are experiencing with their current systems, the key drivers they experience that are bringing those pain points to the forefront, and their technology roadmap to address those pain points. Digital twins capability has been consistently highlighted by SAPinsiders as key to building resilient, agile, and optimized manufacturing capability. This article will share a high-level overview of how a digital twin stack can be built in SAP technology ecosystems.

Digital Twin Stack in SAP Technology Ecosystem

The typical stack of a manufacturing floor digital twin has been shown in the illustration below. We will review the components of this stack to understand their role in the stack.

Digital Twin Stack

Edge Platform: This is the system on the shop floor that captures and harmonizes data collected from IoT sensors.

SAP Plant Connectivity: SAP Plant Connectivity enables the exchange of data between SAP systems and industry-specific standard data sources.

SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII): SAP MII is a comprehensive platform for Manufacturing Execution (MES) and integration solutions. It allows for real-time production monitoring and provides extensive data analysis tools. However, MII is not a full-fledged MES system.

SAP ME: SAP ME is SAP’s MES offering that allows organizations to digitize their manufacturing processes and integrate business systems using Industry 4.0 technology in a cost-effective, high-quality, and resource-efficient way. Organizations can improve their manufacturing operations visibility with real-time information that increases manufacturing reliability and performance using solutions based on the Internet of Things (IoT). It is available as cloud and on-premise deployment and integrates seamlessly with SAP ERP.

Analyst Insight: Difference between SAP MII and SAP ME


SAP MII is a composite framework that acts as a bridge between plant operations and enterprise systems. Its has unique ability to connect to shop floor systems, and the pre-built templates for SAP ERP integration provide fast time to value for building applications that may sometimes be delivered in an MES system (an example being order visibility). MII provides integration (data connectivity and transformation) and also intelligence (like user interface and manufacturing analytics) in a real-time operations environment. It is often positioned as a framework for delivering lighter MES like functions but should not be confused as an MES application. MII often integrates with homegrown or packaged MES and other plant systems to synchronize operations with ERP.
SAP ME  is SAP’s manufacturing execution systems offering and has deep industry support capabilities, to support complex assembly operations in discrete manufacturing. It is a pre-built application that contains a plethora of solutions for managing orders, work instructions, routings, rework, documentation, and quality in an enforced environment. It also has the capability to provide detailed tracking and genealogy for quality assurance. SAP ME leverages built-in MII transactions for integration to ERP as a product. All the Orders, BOMs, Routings, etc, needed for SAP ME functionality are pre-packaged and fully integrated to the MES applications delivered with ME.

SAP DMC: SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud is a manufacturing shop floor solution that supports production supervisors and workers daily on the shop floor where the products are manufactured. It is tightly integrated with SAP S/4 HANA or SAP ERP, where the production orders are planned, inventory is provisioned, and subsequent supply chain processes are triggered and processed. It connects high-level business systems and applications to manufacturing shop floor equipment. It provides comprehensive visibility across all manufacturing locations, simultaneously optimizing execution and monitoring production operations to the granular level of individual work centers.

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