Hands-Off Data Transfer

Sample Workflow
Sample Workflow

Networking the worlds of data also affects time management. Almost all companies use MTM default times in their production planning systems. That’s the background for the development of the certified SAP–TiCon interface. The interface eliminates manual maintenance and complex transfer of updated data from an MTM analysis into SAP R/3. To accomplish this, the interface offers numerous functions. For example, users can open an easily operated search template from an SAP R/3 work process that supports a TiCon process module. A simple click then creates the reference to the work process for the module. The time captured in TiCon and other optional data (descriptive texts) are transferred to the SAP R/3 work process. Manual entry of time is deactivated in the SAP R/3 work process at the same time.
The choice of a process module occurs according to the authorization scheme in TiCon. Users can only choose modules for reference for which they have at least read rights. The changes of times and texts in TiCon are transferred to SAP R/3 in batch session – as often as desired and whenever desired. A usage check ensures that TiCon modules with an SAP R/3 reference can’t be deleted. If the modules must be deleted, the reference can be cancelled again if needed.

Austria Leads the Way

System Components
System Components

The first implementation of an SAP–TiCon interface occurred at an Austrian company, Egston Eggenburger System Elektronik GmbH. The firm produces inductive components, cable systems, power supplies, and automotive parts in Austria and the Czech Republic. Since the end of 2004, it has also produced inductive components in China. Before converting to SAP R/3 4.6, Egston worked with ANA/ZEBA-DATA and an interface coupling to the Diaprod PPS system. In 2003, the company decided to replace Diaprod because the system was no longer supported by the vendor. The move to SAP R/3 was accompanied by the implementation of new MTM software, TiCon. At first, implementation proceeded without the interface because it had not yet been certified. The company chose TiCon because of its simple, Windows-oriented application, client/server technology, and relational database and because of its ability to operate with multiple languages. The latter was an important function for Egston in light of its international orientation.
The conversion to SAP R/3 began in 2003; the system went into production at the start of 2004. At first, time-management data was maintained manually in SAP R/3 to some extent. That effort alone was sufficient reason to implement the SAP–TiCon interface, which was certified during the project. The Dresden-based MTM firm worked with Munich-based DMC on the implementation. Both firms had worked together during certification of the interface for MTM. At Egston, production manager Karl Heinz Steindl served as the contact person for the TiCon interface. During the implementation, only minor problems (such as multiple allocation of items on a bill of materials) required improvement. Overall, implementation took little time. Data was being exchanged within three months between TiCon and SAP R/3 production planning software.

Proven in the Real World

TiCon and the interface to SAP R/3 have been live since the beginning of 2005. After several months of day-to-day work with the solution, production manager Karl Heinz Steindl is extremely satisfied. “No problems have occurred since the implementation. It functions flawlessly,” he says. The time management data in the production planning software of SAP R/3 stores the reference code, the times, and the change information of the process module. The interface itself communicates over RFC technology with an RFC server programmed in C++. Updates occur with the creation and automatic execution of batch input sessions.
Changes of MTM analyses are mapped to data in SAP R/3 without any frictional loss. Every night, Egston runs a job with about 24,000 analyses, “and it runs absolutely stably. And the data changes constantly. Changes occur every day,” says Karl Heinz Steindl. “Every day we receive three new products and change at least three existing products from our comprehensive product offerings,” he adds. Some 42 employees in Austria and the Czech Republic use the software. Looking back, Steindl says, “The rapid conversion to TiCon and the problem-free data transfer show that MTM-Software and DMC München are reliable partners: a handshake is enough.”

Manual Intervention with Results

Thanks to implementation of the interface, the functionality of both software products has been enhanced solidly and securely: planning and control with SAP R/3 and the development of process modules and use of MTM. Egston has worked with MTM methods since 1991. It continually evaluated and improved production processes; it also analyzed the underlying processes during instruction of new products and components. “When we define the default times for assembly of a new component in TiCon,” says Karl Heinz Steindl, “we can create the interface to SAP R/3 in a moment. The new default times are stored in SAP R/3 and compared with all incoming changes. That’s how we maintain new data in a single system.”
The same holds true for the adjustment of existing data – when one component replaces two others, for example. “We change the data in TiCon and store it. An automatic job transfers the data to SAP [R/3] and stores the new times there,” explains Steindl. “Immediately afterward, we have the new job ticket that describes as text the new work content for assembly.”

A Profitable Combination

The example of a winding machine shows the significance of the interface connection. Employees working with such a machine must take every spool from a pallet located diagonally across from them. After a redesign based upon the MTM methodology, the pallet is now located directly in front of the workstation so employees can grasp it easily. The work process was significantly shortened. “Without the interface,” emphasizes Steindl, “this change would have meant that we had to reenter default times for all goods that require winding – and that’s several thousand in our production.” With the interface, data from MTM analyses can be transferred to all the data stored in SAP R/3. “That’s where the interface makes a lot of sense, because it can deal with new variants with a single click,” says Karl Heinz Steindl of his experience. The costs saved in such a job are enormous. “Manual data maintenance would have taken eight days,” estimates Steindl. The actual profit from the enterprise can hardly be expressed in numbers. It enables Egston to consider process improvement and gives it more flexibility and marketability.

Janette Junghanns
Janette Junghanns