The SAP xApp Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP xMII), the world's first Manufacturing Intelligence Portal™, helps companies transform themselves into e-manufacturers by:
Web-enabling all existing manufacturing and information systems to provide a common interface to all users in the enterprise
Directly supporting the wireless revolution allowing employees, customers, and supply chain partners to monitor critical information through personal digital assistants (PDAs), phones, and other internet appliances
XML-enabling all plant floor systems to simplify integration into e-business applications such as ERP, CRM, and supply chain optimization through emerging standards such as Microsoft's BizTalk, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), and others
Enabling real-time views into the "make" portion of the supply chain to enable better decision making and available-to-promise (ATP) capabilities
The SAP xMII leverages advanced Web server technology to extract data from multiple data sources, aggregate the data at the server, transform it into a business context, and personalize and deliver results to users. The user community can include existing personal computers running Internet browsers, wireless PDAs, or other business applications. The SAP xMII is logically constructed as shown below.
The SAP xMII leverages existing legacy systems and unlocks data for casual users throughout the enterprise. By exposing data from existing databases, the SAP xMII provides an environment to allow users to correlate data from multiple systems via a simple browser interface. The software does not need to be managed at the client site and no requirement for complex data warehouses or data models exist with an SAP xMII implementation.
The SAP xMII was designed as an N-tier application that is platform and browser neutral, scalable, and extensible. Its basic architecture can be divided into three sections: the data source layer; the application layer consisting of connectors, transformation objects, and agents; and the user layer consisting of display components such as applets and reports or dynamically-generated XML content.
All of the SAP xMII functionality is exposed using a standard Web services-based architecture via uniform resource identifier (URI) requests. Data and functionality with the SAP xMII can be accessed using standard transports such as HTTP, SMTP, FTP, and others. The SAP xMII can also function as a client to any Web service-based application via SOAP or other XML-based transactional interaction.
The application layer is based on a standard Web server (typically Microsoft IIS) with a servlet engine running Java servlet technology. The server side functions are designed to get data, transform it, and deliver it to any requesting client in a form that is compatible with the device. The SAP xMII currently renders data a variety formats: HTML, GIF, PNG, JPEG, BMP, WBMP, binary (for JAVA applet support), XML (virtually any format), WML, providing connectivity to any browser, micro-browser, XML-enabled application, PDA, internet-enabled phone or appliance.
The SAP xMII core data representation is XML-based, allowing data manipulation, mapping, and transformations to/from almost any format. The SAP xMII abstracts the underlying data sources using connectors.
Connectors integrate any plant focused data source into the SAP xMII. The connectors provide data collection, conversion, aggregation and abstraction, allowing the SAP xMII to become the universal window in to all process and production related information. Importantly, while the SAP xMII is universal, it maintains appropriate context for the information it presents. All data, regardless of where the data resides, is abstracted as XML data streams.
Connectors run on the Web server and respond to authenticated requests for information from a client. The client identifies the server alias (defines the data source, type, and location), the mode or class of data requested (historical, current, command, etc.), the specific items requested, and the data rendering choice for the returned data. The connector protocol layer manages the request and returns the appropriate data in XML format to the data rendering layer, which transforms the data to the requested output format. The SAP xMII uses standard HTTP and secure HTTP protocols (such as HTTPS), allowing it to work seamlessly with corporate firewalls and leverage Web and Web server security without the requirement for a custom "security" layer.
The protocol layer manages all of the communication to the plant data sources. Each connector contains protocol beans that convert data requests into device specific queries for the target data sources. Connectors understand the data types, structures and requests that a device supports. For user-created databases, all SAP xMII Manufacturing Intelligence Portals™ include the IDBC connector (SAP xMII DataBase Connector). IDBC allows users to define templates to integrate any ODBC or JDBC compatible datasource into the SAP xMII Web server. SAP xMII interfaces with proprietary interfaces using its Universal Data Connector (UDC) and Universal Data Server (UDS) technology, which use TCP/IP as their network transport.
Once the connector protocol layer has retrieved the data from the plant data source, SAP xMII 'renders' the information into the appropriate format for the client. The rendering layer abstracts the data source from the data presentation, allowing SAP xMII to support all existing (and future) communication standards. Current outputs and their typical uses include:
HTML (HyperText Mark-up Language) - the connector dynamically builds the Web page at the server. The connector supports 'server side includes' in SAP xMII report pages allowing complex Web pages, perhaps consisting of data from multiple sources, to be built on the fly. This output is supported by any browser and is ideal for reports, internet appliances, PDA’s, and low bandwidth connections.
SAP xMII Applets - the connector sends a highly optimized binary data stream to any applet created by SAP xMII or by a third party using the SAP xMII Client Toolkit. This output offers the most interactive user experience and is recommended for any JAVA-enabled browser. See the SAP xMII Client JAVA Applet User's Guide for more information on the availability and use of applets.
Server-Side Images – this renders the equivalent of an applet’s output to the client in a graphic/image format such as GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, or WBMP. Since the conversion is done on the Web server, it is ideal for displaying sophisticated graphical images (trends, charts, etc.) on a non-JAVA enabled browser or hand-held or embedding graphic images in reports.
XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language) - the connector renders the data in XML, the new standard for application-to-application communications. XML allows any business application to directly access all plant data through SAP xMII. Typical applications include: ERP/MRP, Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain applications, Available-to-Promise, and Advanced Planning.
A variety of productivity tools are available to get you started immediately. The Template Editor makes constructing a query against a data source quick and easy. The Dynamic Page Generator allows any end user to create a dynamic, data connected HTML page with embedded applets with no knowledge of Web applications. An add-in for Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia Dreamweaver provides both an easy way to construct applets and images from SAP xMII data sources, as well as providing a Script Assistant to help make pages more dynamic by linking applets together based on user interaction. Of course, experienced HTML and Web scripting authors can utilize the product in very exciting ways.
One of the options available with SAP xMII Manufacturing Portal is SPC data analysis. It includes a complete SPC analysis suite and a comprehensive set of SAP xMII SPC applets, which provide visual feedback to users.
SPC data analysis takes advantage of the SAP xMII Application Layer and associated Data Connectors. Based on a user request (URL) or response to an SAP xMII Alert/Event, SAP xMII gathers data from existing data sources and streams the resulting query into an SPC calculation engine. The resulting quality calculations are abstracted into an XML layer and then delivered in a view through the SPC applet library.
Furthermore, the calculation results may be interrogated by SAP xMII Agents, allowing for alert notifications of rule violations through email and other messaging services.
Along with the calculation, SAP xMII provides a framework to store and persist calculation results, attribute data, comments, and other collaborative information useful in examining results in a continuous improvement initiative.
The data queries, associated, attributes, comments and applet views may be stored and cataloged as iSPCChart objects. A description of these objects and their capabilities follows.