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Quiet ERP No Longer



Engine maker brings its ERP system out of the office and onto the shop floor in order to optimize production planning and control.


By Mohamed AbuAli


To build on its leading position, MTU Aero Engines GmbH—Germany’s leading engine manufacturer—participates in international cooperative efforts and deploys the latest IT technology on a wide scale. Since a high proportion of production takes place in Germany, manufacturing costs are a critical aspect of MTU’s success. In addition to keeping an eye on costs, the company is always seeking to exploit any potential for improvement.

To this end, MTU began using SAP R/3 software as the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to centrally plan schedules and material requirements (SAP R/3 software functionality is now found in the mySAP ERP solution). MTU then identified further potential for optimizing the integration between the shop floor (production) and the top floor (ERP system).

"We wanted to increase the availability and reliability of our production machines," says Michael Süß, MTU COO. "We knew total productivity management [TPM] could raise productivity and improve the transparency of orders and costs in the SAP R/3 software." To implement TPM, MTU needed to capture real-time data from 300 machines with heterogeneous machine controls and sometimes different production processes at its Munich site. This challenge required an end-to-end process—from the machine to the ERP system.

In addition to manufacturing turbine engines, MTU Aero engages in developing, marketing and supporting them.


MTU Aero Engines

MTU Aero Engines develops, manufactures, and repairs engines for military and commercial airplanes and helicopters. MTU’s customers manufacture and operate aircraft and industrial gas turbines around the world. MTU München was founded in 1969, following the merger of MAN Turbo and Daimler-Benz. At the end of 2003, MTU was acquired by the US private equity company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR). At that time, in fiscal year 2003, MTU Aero Engines achieved revenues of €1.9 billion. It has 8000 employees, of which more than 5000 work at its site in Munich, Germany.


Project Remained on Schedule
and Within Budget

MTU needed a manufacturing execution system (MES) to seamlessly connect the machine control level with plant maintenance and production planning in the SAP system. MTU analyzed the market and decided on Factory Framework shop floor management (SFM) technology from Forcam. The project managers had several objectives, which included a high level of seamless integration between the MES and the existing SAP environment, seamless process chains (from the SAP software to the engine), references with similar project requirements, configurable standard solution, decoupling of the technical interface from the human interface, and implementing a browser-based application for SFM analyses.

The implementation began with a pilot phase for two production lines in which the key users were heavily involved. This enabled MTU to gather the first information about the signals emitted by the machines and rule out the risk of system downtime. The experience gained during the pilot phase was incorporated into the rollout. "Twelve months later all 300 machines in 60 manufacturing lines were integrated as planned and went live with the new system," recalls Axel Mattschas, the project manager responsible for Digital Production Systems at MTU. At this time, MTU has increased the number of connected machine tools to 400 with 25 heterogeneous machine controls connected via Factory Framework machine connectivity adapters.

Machine operators and engineers, managers, and logistics specialists all create reports from the data captured from the machines, and all MTU employees affected by the project received training while the implementation was going on.


Shop-Floor Management in Real Time

With Factory Framework, all machinery and their procedures are automatically monitored. An especially developed category portal enables each staff member to access important information, which facilitates a selective analysis of weak points. The data is accessible from everywhere inside and outside the press plant. And because of the standardized data model, comparing performance—key performance indicators (KPI) to overall equipment efficiency (OEE)—of all plants in all locations is possible.

Connecting the MES with the SAP system is already paying off for MTU in many ways: data from the 400 machines is now automatically captured in real time. As a result, MTU can promptly identify and evaluate weaknesses (for example, when a machine goes down) and trigger countermeasures. Staff can then use reliable key figures on machine efficiency (taken from unchangeable machine status signals) and monitor the effectiveness of the actions they take.

The MES is seamlessly integrated with the ERP functions for plant maintenance and production planning. Consequently, if there is a technical problem, maintenance orders are created in the MES and automatically sent to the ERP system. Data from production orders and task-list operations is also transferred from the SAP R/3 software’s planning system to the MES—to link the orders with the status of the machines and evaluate them. "The interaction MTU Aero Engines is Germany's leading engine manufacturer.  Its reach is global player and it is involved with commercial and military aircraft engines as well as industrial gas turbines.  between the SAP R/3 software and MES has considerably improved transparency in production," according to Süß. A real-time interface is also created for the worker on the shop floor using a touch screen that automatically downloads all order/operation information from SAP ERP and combines it with real-time machine statuses and operator information. Right at the point of production, the worker can track his planned versus target performance in real time. Factory Framework MES combines the order, operation, machine, and worker in a centralized interface and provides the right information to the right people at the right time.  

Unplanned downtime is now identified immediately and recorded for the statistics. In this way, we are continuously improving machine availability and productivity," says Michael Keller, head of rotor/stator production at MTU. "We now have up-to-date information about production and loss times and can display the condition of all important machines online." Another benefit is that the 700 users in production can interact with the MES. Users can choose between the ergonomic menu-based interfaces on the standard PCs and touch screens. Moreover, users can display and evaluate the operating status of the machines online at any of the PCs in the network.


Next Steps

In the first phase of the project, MTU successfully implemented Factory Framework and machine data entry. Next, order rule cycles involving SAP solutions were created. A production planning and control system was implemented with the SAP Advanced Planning & Optimization component. MTU introduced a real-time dashboard using MES for end users based on the SAP NetWeaver Portal component. By seamlessly integrating these SAP solutions with Factory Framework, the company expects not only to further reduce lead times and distribute the load on production more evenly but also to avoid order peaks and unplanned bottlenecks. With the seamless connectivity of SAP ERP modules and Factory Framework MES, MTU can look forward to greater efficiencies as it continues to optimize its processes.

This article was first published in the 2012 edition of the Aerospace & Defense Yearbook

Published Date : 1/9/2013

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