Endress+Hauser built the portal with the help of SAP and its own internal IT service provider, Endress+Hauser InfoServe. Cooperation was crucial to the project’s success, said Jan Olaf, of Endress+Hauser InfoServe’s marketing department. “The collected knowledge about the sector, information technology, and business processes enabled us to create a customer portal that specifically addressed our target audience,” said Olaf. “It has enabled true networking with customers and suppliers.”
Data for measuring instruments centrally available
What serial numbers are to cars, the Common Equipment Record (CER) is to Endress+Hauser. The company is an international leader in measuring instruments and automation solutions for the process engineering industry, and has its headquarters in Reinach, Switzerland. It assigns every measuring instrument a CER, which contains key information specific to the device and the customer about maintenance, repairs, product description, and ordering codes.
With the CER, it is possible to read the complete life-cycle of a particular device or facility, including its engineering, purchase, installation, service, maintenance, and replacement of individual components.
Via the W@M portal, the company’s customers can call up this data from the back-end systems. The portal is based on the SAP NetWeaver technology platform, and the back-end system uses SAP ERP 6.0. An enterprise service-oriented architecture (enterprise SOA) makes a bundle of largely self-developed and reusable web services available. These services use defined standard interfaces to provide the CER information, implement additional functions and applications, and secure integration with other systems such as asset-management systems.
Enterprise SOA pays off
Throughout the company, Endress+Hauser’s internal computing center administrates and enhances the SAP solutions. The systems are harmonized comprehensively and brought into use on the SAP NetWeaver platform, which is uniform across the group.
Based on its experience with SAP NetWeaver, Endress+Hauser chose a service-oriented architecture. “The advantage for our customers is that applications and services can be combined,” says Jürgen Schrempp, head of business technology at Endress+Hauser InfoServe. “The user can call up the same service in various contexts using several different interfaces. The openness of enterprise SOA means that we can attach both SAP solutions and systems from other providers to the portal.”
Web services add value
Endress+Hauser developed most of the web services itself. This posed a particular challenge because developers with experience in enterprise SOA are difficult to come by. As a result, the company chose to train its own experts.
The firm’s web services offer calibration applications for uploading and downloading, communicate device information to a customer application, and ease regular ordering of devices. Customers can access the information at any time and from anywhere. This enables simple and cross-system networking.
Key advantages at a glance
- Single point of information that displays the life-cycle of all measuring devices and facilities transparently in one place.
- Optimized workflow via customer integration in various operating procedures.
- Application’s openness enables integration of systems independent of their manufacturer.
Customers can measure the portal’s usefulness to their bottom line. “Just in spare parts inventory, transparent device data can mean savings of up to 70 percent,” says Olaf. “Furthermore, we have customers who were able to reduce the process times in purchasing by half.”
Measure – operate – adjust: all in one portal
Endress+Hauser plans to add more customer-specific functions to its portal. This is another area in which the company benefits from its choice of a flexible enterprise SOA that enables continuous extension of functions and applications.
The company’s goal is to offer its customers a comprehensive solution for processes involving measurement, operation, and adjustment via W@M. “The first discussions with our partners are under way,” said Schrempp. “Our goal is to bring together all of the important producers from the areas of measurement, operations, and adjustment to bring about the greatest possible usefulness for our customers.”
Endress+Hauser was founded in 1953 as a family business. Today, the Switzerland-based company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of measuring instruments, services, and automation solutions for the industrial process engineering industry. Endress+Hauser provides sensors, instruments, systems, and services for measuring liquid level, flow, pressure, and temperature, as well as fluid analysis and measurement recording.