Gerolsteiner Brunnen GmbH & Co. KG produces 4 million bottles of mineral water and mineral water-based soft drinks every day. To help ensure it extracts neither a liter of water too much nor too little from its sources, the company needs to be able to forecast production accurately.

Assisted by SAP Co-Innovation Lab, SAP partner INTENSE AG created an IoT-based solution on SAP Cloud Platform that allows Gerolsteiner to optimize the volume of mineral water it draws from its springs.

How much mineral water do you need to fill a one-liter bottle of Gerolsteiner? That may seem like a strange question. After all, it says “1 liter” on the bottle — isn’t that the answer?

“Not quite,” says SAP’s Mathias Kaldenhoff from Partner Innovation Management, Office of the CTO Germany, who oversaw the project with Gerolsteiner and INTENSE AG. “Different types of mineral water and soft drinks use water from different sources and contain varying quantities of ingredients. That affects the total amount of water required to produce them.”

The 125 products in Gerolsteiner’s range contain different types of mineral water sourced entirely from mineral springs in and around Gerolstein, a small town in the Volcanic Eifel region of western Germany. The company is committed to managing these precious natural resources sustainably and responsibly.

“Our aim is to extract neither one liter too much nor too little, so that we always have precisely the right amount of water ready for bottling,” says Arnd Büchsenschütz, head of Process Engineering at Gerolsteiner Brunnen GmbH & Co. KG. This meant that the company needed to find a way of getting the right type of mineral water to the right bottling line in the right quantity and at the right time.

The Internet of Things (IoT) was the key. Sensor and usage data captured on the bottling lines is available in real time, making it possible to monitor water usage end to end during production. The more accurate the data, the more precise the resulting forecast for usage and demand.

INTENSE AG IRES-video_SAP Innovation use case Gerolsteiner EN

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INTENSE AG IRES-video_SAP Innovation use case Gerolsteiner EN

Co-Innovating for Sustainability at Gerolsteiner

To put the technology in place, Gerolsteiner worked with energy efficiency specialist and longtime SAP partner INTENSE. During the project, INTENSE engaged with SAP Co-Innovation Lab, which supports SAP partners by sharing expertise to help develop prototypes for specific customers.

“We’ve collaborated successfully with INTENSE in the past, and they also approached us during their project with Gerolsteiner,” says Martin Rosjat, project manager from SAP Co-Innovation Lab. “This time around, it was our South African team in Johannesburg that played a major role in providing architecture consulting and development support. The aim was to share development methods on SAP Cloud Platform, and particularly SAP HANA, with the experts from INTENSE. INTENSE wrote the code for the actual solution so it’s their intellectual property.”

According to Matthias Orth from INTENSE, “Cooperating with SAP Co-Innovation Lab experts was an ideal situation for us, because it meant we could address specific questions to them while we were working on the proof of concept at the customer. We held weekly touchdowns that really helped us build up our knowledge, which drastically reduced development time.”

SAP Co-Innovation Lab provided INTENSE with recommendations and best practices for data queries in SAP HANA. “This wasn’t broad-brush SAP HANA development support,” Orth says. “It was absolutely on point. Instead of trawling through the SAP documentation, we received guided tours from the experts at SAP Co-Innovation Lab.”

IoT and SAP Cloud Platform for Forecasts and Predictive Maintenance

As a result the INTENSE developers are now implementing extended solutions on SAP Cloud Platform. One of these is the Intelligent Resource Efficiency Solution (IRES), which is already being partially deployed at Gerolsteiner. By combining IoT data captured by sensors on the bottling line with energy and water usage data, IRES produces a precise forecast of how much water must be drawn from which mineral springs in order to bottle exactly the quantity of mineral water and soft drinks on order.

“In the past, measurement data only provided a snapshot,” says Kaldenhoff. “That data is now saved and analyzed by the algorithms in IRES, which allows predictions to be made for production. It is also possible to monitor certain parameters — such as average consumption per product, per line — and to predict whether certain machines are capable of maintaining their current performance levels. In short, all the possibilities of predictive maintenance and extended resource planning are now open.”

“There were already Excel-based energy-efficient data management solutions on the market,” he adds. “But INTENSE has enhanced its solution into an SAP Cloud Platform-based solution that uses different algorithms to analyze energy efficiency and IoT data.”

In the past, production planners at Gerolsteiner had a tough time gauging whether the volume of mineral water extracted would be enough to ensure continuous production. Today, they can query production order data from the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to determine average values, and on that basis create a forecast incorporating production orders that are scheduled but not yet active.

Planning for Integration with SAP S/4HANA

“You can think of SAP Co-Innovation Lab projects as legs in a relay race,” explains Rosjat. “The focus of our leg is to enable the partner, who in turn enables the customer. In this case, we worked with Partner Innovation Management in the Office of the CTO Germany to help our partner create a market-ready solution.”

“We now want to help INTENSE sell its solution in other sectors of industry too,” says Kaldenhoff. “Discrete manufacturing, chemicals, and brewing are all sectors that INTENSE and SAP can break into together.”

To do that, INTENSE and SAP are planning a joint go-to-market strategy.

“SAP Co-Innovation Lab has helped INTENSE create a solution for one specific customer,” explains Orth. “We want to go on and make it more flexible, to create a modular product that we can use to more quickly build new use cases at other customers in different sectors of industry. As such, we’ll continue to call on the support of SAP Co-Innovation Lab when it comes to the technology.”

There are plans to integrate INTENSE’s energy efficiency solution as tightly as possible with SAP S/4HANA.

“INTENSE is planning to use the insight it gained during the Gerolsteiner project to build a resource management tool,” says Kaldenhoff. “This will enable us for the first time to link IoT and energy efficiency data for forecast planning, in combination, for example, with a supply chain solution from SAP. That’s our mission for the future.”

This story also appeared on the SAP Germany News Center.
Top image via video.