SAP XSteps now helps automate, simplify discrete manufacturing

Long a staple in process manufacturing, SAP XSteps now helps discrete manufacturers record production data, as well as automate production processes.

Companies can now implement Execution Steps (XSteps) in discrete manufacturing, also known as Shop Floor Control (SFC), not only to record detailed plant production data but also to help automate several steps in the production process.

XSteps is a new addition to Process Management functionality that was previously limited to Production Planning for Process Industries (PP-PI) only. It is now also available in discrete manufacturing. Configuring and implementing XSteps is the same as configuring Process Management in PP-PI. However, using XSteps is more user-friendly than Process Management for a process owner to make changes, when needed.

Figure 1 shows how implementing and utilizing XSteps in discrete manufacturing, or SFC, compares with using it in PP-PI.

Discrete manufacturing Production Planning for Process Industries
Settings in Routing Settings in Master Recipe
Production Order Process Order
Control Instruction Generation Control Recipe Generation
Sending Control Instruction to Destination Sending Control Recipe to Destination
Process Integration Process Management
Work Instruction Process Instruction Sheet
Sending Process Messages Sending Process Messages

Figure 1. Comparison of XSteps in discrete manufacturing and PP-PI

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XSteps let companies record plant production data (plant parameters) and production shifts' details, as well as digitally sign the data entered. Manufacturers can also use XSteps to automatically record important transactional data, such as goods issuance of raw material to production, confirmation of actual quantity produced against production order, and goods receipt of produced material against the production order into the warehouse.

Companies that were previously using automated transactions such as Backflush or Automatic Goods Receipt can use XSteps in discrete manufacturing to record raw material consumption and actual goods produced, and bring greater efficiency and optimization to their production processes.

Work instruction sheet for discrete manufacturing

Figure 2: Work instruction sheet for discrete manufacturing

Figure 2 shows how XSteps created a work instruction in discrete manufacturing. The top right-hand side shows where the production supervisor entered plant parameters, such as the pump data, in the first two fields, and the system automatically performed a calculation and shows the results in the difference field. On the top left, it is easy to add a specific visual -- like a hazard symbol -- in order to provide greater instructions or alert line operators. In the center of the figure, the production supervisor can provide additional details. Finally, in the lower half of the figure, the production supervisor can record more plant data.

Due to the intuitive feature of XSteps, the process owner has complete flexibility on the layout or the information that must appear in the work instruction sheet for discrete manufacturing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jawad Akhtar is the author of the SAP Press bestselling book Production Planning and Control with SAP ERP. He is the head of SAP delivery at AbacusConsulting, where he focuses on logistics and supply chain management issues.

This was first published in February 2014

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