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Experience Industry 4.0 first-hand with SAP and its partners

Experience the full potential of digital production first-hand at the SAP Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory.

Picture this: Somewhere on the shop floor, an employee is assembling components with the assistance of a robot. Nearby, an autonomous vehicle is transporting parts to their destination. Meanwhile, a constant stream of data is flowing back and forth in real time for these and many other steps. A few decades ago, that would have sounded like science fiction, but – thanks to Industry 4.0 – it has long since become a reality. What’s more, the data from a digitally networked smart factory is not just compiled and evaluated. When processed with machine learning, it is also used to detect errors and predict future incidents. These tasks call for powerful software. Luckily, when it comes to Industry 4.0, SAP SE has extensive expertise and solutions at its disposal.

“We’ve been active in the field of industrial production since 2005. Many large companies now run their entire production landscape with SAP,” says Ralf Lehmann, Global Head of Industry 4.0 in Product Marketing at SAP. Of course, the best way to get to grips with such complex connections between the offline and online world is to see them with your own eyes. This is precisely why SAP runs an Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory in Walldorf, so visitors can experience the full potential of SAP production solutions first-hand and leave inspired. SAP works closely with numerous partner companies to fit out its digital factory, and we are delighted to have been able to contribute our modular solutions to the factory. For example, all the work benches have been created using our profile technology.

Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory – two digital supply chains under one roof

SAP has been showcasing examples of Industry 4.0 applications for several years. In the past, they were set up in different buildings in Walldorf. These showcases have been extended for the new Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory and now depict highly realistic end-to-end scenarios. An entire hall, covering 500 square meters, houses the different exhibitions. Up to 4,000 people visit the digital factory every year – for individual tours or events. On top of that, live presentations are regularly held in a dedicated streaming studio. The factory is equipped with various machines and systems, numerous item-based work benches, and driverless transport vehicles, among other things. It is divided into two areas, each showcasing an entire product life cycle. The area covering the process industry (e.g. the chemicals or food sector) centres on a valve made up of various components that is assembled in the factory. The area for discrete manufacturing (which covers mechanical engineering and the automotive industry) showcases the multi-stage production of a liquid concentrate. There is also an SAP Centre for Industry 4.0 in both North America and Japan that are based on the very same concept.

End-to-end processes with SAP in a realistic environment

Visitors to the Pop-Up Factory can expect to see a realistic process in action: “For us, it’s about making SAP a tangible experience. At the same time, we want to highlight the advantages of end-to-end processes with SAP. We take a best-of-suite approach and have a comprehensive portfolio for manufacturing companies,” says Matthias Deindl, who works at SAP as Head of Industry 4.0 Center EMEA & India. For SAP, adopting a best-of-suite approach means using holistic solutions to cover every stage of the digital supply chain. For example, in the discrete manufacturing production model, the valve’s entire journey is tracked. These valves are used in sectors such as the beverage industry. In the Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory, you can see first-hand how a double-seat valve is made – from the design process and planning (including procurement) to production and operation. This approach reflects one of SAP’s core principals – “Design to Operate”.

Boosting agility and resilience with SAP and Industry 4.0

Creating a digital network between parts, products and processes makes it possible to generate data on logistics, production and maintenance processes in real time. For SAP, there are two concepts that play a crucial role here – vertical and horizontal integration. Vertical integration means that the software is directly connected to the shop floor, which supplies the data needed to enable precise planning, control, monitoring and optimisation. Horizontal integration refers to the ability of various systems to communicate with each other and exchange data. This takes place along the value chain and within companies, but also between different companies. In the Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory, SAP demonstrates why its solutions are ideal for this. Developments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have also prompted many manufacturers to rethink their approach: “Many companies want to become more flexible and resilient, which requires agile business processes. As a result, they want to implement the principles of Industry 4.0 to ensure they’re in the best position they can be. We recognised this early on and are happy to show anyone who is interested what options are available,” explains Lehmann.

A special Robot Mounting Plate helps seamlessly integrate a cobot from Universal Robots into the work bench. item robot holders are available for all popular cobot models.

A manual workstation shows that manual assembly in a smart factory is by no means a thing of the past. Based on the item Building Kit System, this work bench has been designed for human-robot collaboration. Here, employees assemble electronic components using a precision screwdriver. A special Robot Mounting Plate helps seamlessly integrate a cobot from Universal Robots into the work bench. Our robot mounts are available for all popular cobot models. There are also Universal Mounting Plates that can be machined as required, for instance with a customised pattern of holes. This particular cobot is equipped with a camera and supplies the employee with the necessary parts. The precision screwdriver, robot and camera on the robot table are all digitally networked. This ensures that SAP Digital Manufacturing can be used to control the assembly process with optimum worker guidance and an automated assembly inspection. This Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and the SAP S/4HANA Cloud ERP system are SAP’s key solutions for Industry 4.0.

Do you want to explore the fascinating world of Industry 4.0? Whether you already use SAP solutions or you’re new to digital production, you’re welcome to visit the Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory. Please send an email to: [email protected]

Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory – Klaus Dülge and Ralf Lehmann
Klaus Dülge (left) is a Key Account Manager at item. He oversees the project from our side. Here he is standing in front of the modular robot table alongside SAP employee Ralf Lehmann (right).

Full creative freedom with item profile technology

“Our realistic showcase closely emulates an actual production line. That’s why we need a partner like item whose expertise is perfect for this project,” says Deindl. However, our profile technology is not limited to this particular robot table. All the work bench designs in the Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory have been built using item profiles. Or, in the words of Lehmann: “Wherever there are staffs at work, you’ll find factory equipment, fixtures and fittings from item. When it comes to places to put down tools, IT infrastructure, or monitors displaying assembly instructions – an item work surface is always used as the basis.” Not only that, but the warehouse enclosure is also made of aluminium profiles. There is also a rack for lean material supply that is made entirely of components from our Lean Production Building Kit System. The flexibility of our modular principle truly excels in all constructions, meeting all requirements in terms of dimensions, working height and storage space.

We’re so delighted and grateful to have a partner like item to help us create an even better experience for visitors.

The same applies to any necessary adjustments. For instance, one of the work benches had to be retrospectively modified. Our simple fastening technology and extensive profile selection made light work of this challenge: “This ability to change and adapt designs is amazing. If you need to expand or modify something to meet new requirements, you can take care of it in no time. This is an area where item supports us particularly well,” says Lehmann. It was actually another partner company who recommended item profile technology to SAP, which ultimately led to a very successful collaboration. Now our solutions are an integral part of the Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory. The realistic design and inclusion of several well-known manufacturers ensure immediate recognition: “It looks and feels like a factory. We’re so delighted and grateful to have partners like item to help us create an even better experience for visitors.”

SAP Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory – featuring a warehouse enclosure and work benches made of item profile technology
The Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factory showcases the versatility of item profile technology, which was used to create the warehouse enclosure and work benches.

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