Sunday, December 27, 2015

SAP Plant Connectivity (SAP PCo)

ERP software like the one that SAP provides is usually integrated with many other solutions and technologies that enterprises are running. That is also valid for Manufacturing Execution systems (MES). As MES is intermediate step between ERP and process control system (like Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)) then actually SAP ERP is also connected to the process control systems.

The connection of SAP software (e.g. ERP) and the process control systems is realized via so called SAP Plant Connectivity (PCo) is a framework. The PCo is set of services and management tools that allow the creation of connectors for communication paths between control systems (e.g. control devices, files, historians, TCP Sockets, etc.) and SAP manufacturing software. What is meant by the SAP manufacturing software; can be following:
SAP Manufacturing Execution (SAP ME)
SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII)
SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM)
SAP OPC Data Access (SAP ODA)

The PCo is a Microsoft.Net-developed software component of SAP Manufacturing. SAP started with this solution while it acquired a Lighthammer company in 2015. That time the integration of SAP and the process control systems was based on xMII UDS (Universal Data Server). The PCo is replacing now the xMII UDS.

Components of the PCo include Management Console, Source Systems, Agent Instance and Destination Systems. The Management Console in WINDOWS based application where all configuration and management of the PCo takes place. As the Source Systems it supports following standardized software interfaces:
OPC Data Access/OPC Historical Data Access/Alarms & Events/Unified Architecture
Open Database Connectivity (ODBC)
GE Fanuc Proficy Historian
OSIsoft PI
File Monitor Agent

As for the Destination Systems the PCo can be sending the data from the source systems into following systems:
SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII)
SAP Manufacturing Execution (SAP ME)
SAP Business Suite system (SAP ERP or SAP EWM)
SAP Event Stream Processor (SAP ESP)
SAP HANA database
MS SQL Server 2008

As the PCo is connecting the SAP software within the hardware which in reality is control shop floor’s machines within the factories there are also challenges emerging from security point of view. It is important to protect these type of connection from the security breaches as there can be attacks of plant sabotage, equipment damage, product disruption or even safety violation occur.

More information

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