Every piece of equipment on the factory floor needs to be documented and the data need to be managed, for instance to be able to set up efficient maintenance schedules or because the documentation is required for ISO certification. While an Excel table may be sufficient for these purposes if the number of machines is relatively small, from a certain volume upwards a special IT solution is the only sensible way. The problem is that most of the available solutions are stand-alone. Data exchange with the central ERP system is rarely unproblematic, and duplicate data maintenance is required. Added to this is the fact that the functions offered by these solutions tend to be very limited: they allow machine and equipment data to be recorded, but will not allow maintenance schedules to be set up. That requires yet another piece of software. The number of applications thus quickly rises, and none of them talk to each other, and all of them need to be operated and maintained.
Web-based solutions that fit seamlessly into the existing system landscape are much more convenient. Not only do they ensure a consistent database. They also allow the machine and equipment data to be accessed from any location. Ideally, such a solution for digital machine data management should come directly from the machine or plant manufacturer, providing the customer with a simple way of keeping an overview and a convenient method of organizing all servicing activities centrally. This will increase customer satisfaction dramatically. And the digital machine data management will provide the manufacturer with a starting point for offering a number of additional digital services – thereby potentially increasing their sales.
The technological basis for digital machine data management is a service portal based on an e-business solution (such as SAP Commerce Cloud). In such a portal, manufacturers can keep records of all the machines operated by each customer, enhanced by a variety of data. In addition to the machine name, this can include the serial number and chiffre, the machine type, and the technical specifications. This basic data can be complemented by additional details that are useful for organizing and handling servicing tasks, such as the relevant building, production line, or step in the production process. Also, numerous documents relevant to the machine can be added, including manuals or technical drawings, for instance.
Based on this data inventory, numerous digital services can be envisaged. Some application scenarios are described below:
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