Large ERP installations are not unusual these days. So, executives at Suncor Energy Inc., a major producer of oil, gas, and renewable energy sources, took it all in stride when they recently adopted an SAP system in-house.
The deployment was a success, but the company soon found out that simply running the enterprise application wasn't enough. "We wound up with a humongous, greatly capable system that wasn't connected to anything real," says Cliff Pedersen, Suncor's manager of product production processes.
He says the company's SAP system was fed by numbers from spreadsheets--which was great for figuring out financials, but not so wonderful when it came to measuring the actual production that generates the business' bottom line.
"Reality exists in the refinery, or oil sands production facility, and in the natural gas facilities. That's where the wealth is generated," Pedersen says. And to measure that, he adds, you need to make connections with the process automation system.
Making those connections is not easy. To date, most application integration has relied on proprietary point interfaces or middleware that multiplies over time, becoming expensive to build and maintain. Instead, Pedersen needed a standard way to interface between Suncor's Emerson process control system and the new SAP ERP application. Otherwise, "you wind up with a bowl of spaghetti," Pedersen says, referring to the multiple strings of programming code resulting from custom interfaces.
Source: Managing Automation, http://www.managingautomation.com
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