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Vestas Powers Workforce Mobility with Apple iOS Apps

Feature Article | March 2, 2017 by Siegmar Siegel

Vestas, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of wind turbines, has a vision. In the face of a challenging and maturing market, the company is committed to sharpening its competitive edge.

Supported by SAP Cloud Platform and the software developer kit (SDK) for iOS, the company’s OnePlan vision will bring it all together: the flow of turbine components to construction sites around the globe, on-site construction planning, and the exchange of information with vendors, partners, and customers.

Vestas Wind Systems manufactures, sells, and installs wind turbines across the planet. The company also provides comprehensive maintenance services that help utility customers get the most out of their investment in wind turbines.

Headquartered in Aarhus, Denmark, the company employs some 21,000 staff worldwide and generates more than €10 billion in annual revenue. Vestas wind turbines generate power in 76 countries across the globe. Installed at sites ranging from large-scale wind farms to high-altitude locations, the company’s wind turbines are designed to brave the elements ─ from the soaring heat of the Gobi desert in Mongolia to the arctic winters of Finnish Lapland.

The OnePlan solution is at the heart of the company’s global vision. OnePlan is a project management tool that integrates data from multiple disciplines (supply chain, construction planning, components transportation) into a single user-friendly app.

Why SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS?

Vestas chose SAP Cloud Platform to enable its IT staff to spend more time and effort on innovation rather than on integration. With the SAP Cloud Platform as the company’s “tissue” technology, the SDK for iOS was the natural choice for app development.

“The intuitive nature and inherent security of Apple iOS plus the Cloud Platform as the tissue architecture make a very strong combination,” says Asier Vega Sanchez, IT architect at Vestas. “The relevant business services are hosted on the SAP Cloud Platform, which makes it fairly easy for us to expose these services to users on their mobile devices.”

Business Value Through User Experience

The OnePlan vision is jointly realized by Vestas and Invokers, the company’s IT services partner of choice. The key criteria for app development at Vestas are feasibility, viability and desirability. The SDK for iOS helps developers get the app right the first time so that it will be readily adopted.

“Each new app has to be consumer-graded, allowing users to intuitively explore it and teach themselves how to use it,” says Thomas Ove Rasmussen, business experience designer and solution architect at Invokers. “Most users are familiar with the iOS navigation paradigm. Naturally, an intuitive user interface helps drive adoption.”

Vestas has three key requirements for its apps. Firstly, they need to run even without an internet connection. Some of the company’s construction sites are located in remote areas where there is no mobile network coverage. Users must be able to use their apps offline for a while; the apps will automatically synchronize with the system once a connection is available. Secondly, the apps need to be user friendly. Thirdly, the apps need to integrate with the company’s back-end software − primarily the Plant and Machine Maintenance module of SAP ERP and the company’s planning and project management application.

“SAP Cloud Platform allows us to fulfill all three requirements,” notes Asier Vega Sanchez.

Keep It Simple

“Apple iOS is highly popular among our staff,” Asier Vega Sanchez confirms. “The app provides the right functionality for the right roles. Our users are no IT experts; they build wind turbines. That’s why we want to keep things simple for users − regardless of any underlying complexities. Our goal is to achieve high adoption rates. We plan to add more functionalities and further integrations with other systems as our solution matures.”

Role-Specific Apps

The company’s back-end applications connect to the OnePlan solution via APIs. These decoupled APIs use a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to provide services on SAP Cloud Platform. Vestas is currently in the process of integrating its weather database with OnePlan. The company runs one of the most accurate weather forecasting systems on the planet.

Site managers will be able to use this comprehensive flow of information to optimize the planning of construction activities on-site. The idea is to enable site managers to plan day-to-day operations up to 14 days ahead, based on current maintenance and logistics data as well as weather forecasts.

Construction workers can use their mobile iOS devices to report on their progress. Site managers will be able to consolidate this information to track and report on overall progress on-site. Using large high-resolution screens, OnePlan cockpits on location will visualize the overall situation at the construction site. This visualization allows teams to check actual progress vs. target, to annotate the current status of the work in progress, and to track and record the history of the entire construction project.

Information seekers (typically back-office workers) can access and drill down into freshly updated progress reports, allowing them to track, visualize and compare construction projects with turbines at different stages of completion.

OnePlan brings together the flow of turbine components to construction sites around the globe, on-site construction planning, and the exchange of information with vendors, partners, and customers. Click to enlarge. Image via Vestas.

More Accurate Planning Saves Time and Money

Vestas runs some 300 construction sites per year, with up to 150 turbines per site. The company plans to integrate SAP Transportation Management in the foreseeable future. This integration will put intelligence into the company’s logistics, providing a comprehensive up-to-the-minute view of the flow of turbine components to each construction site. Site managers will know exactly when to expect the delivery of the components they need. Coupled with up-to-date weather forecasting, this will make on-site planning more accurate, helping the company complete its projects more efficiently and more securely.

All data related to planning and construction progress will be fed into SAP solutions for business intelligence for reporting, supporting the identification of patterns. The sharing of best practices across construction sites will support Vestas in driving standardization in operations. Thanks to more accurate planning and highly efficient operations, Vestas is in excellent shape to deliver on its vision of greater competitiveness.

In line with its digitization strategy, Vestas is considering the introduction of other services and technologies on SAP Cloud Platform in the foreseeable future.

Watch the video and learn how Vestas uses the SAP Cloud Platform and the iOS assets from SAP´s Apple partnership to further improve operations in construction of wind energy solutions.

 

Top image via Shutterstock

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