The focus of the IT mainstream is on the Internet of things (IoT) and “Industry 4.0", as the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies is known in Germany. In smart factories, which primarily focus on digital-technology based automation at the factory level, the process systems are already networked and the ERP systems have been adapted to the business processes. However, “Industry 4.0” affects many more industrial areas where real-time information is still inconceivable or difficult to obtain, such as in maintenance, service and intelligent logistics. Entrepreneurial thinking in value added networks is also not sufficiently pronounced.
Today, system houses must have expertise concerning these business processes. Therefore, the consulting competence of COSMO CONSULT, the specialist for business software, represents a real trump card. The upcoming digital transformation brings with the need for ERP systems to be able to take in and process large amounts of data, and they will need to function as open platforms in the future. Microsoft Dynamics 365 represents such a platform that is based on a single data model - one for all applications - and thus forms the foundation for an end-to-end solution portfolio. Dynamics 365 goes far beyond ERP by integrating future technologies that are today also finding their way into business processes through initiatives such as industry 4.0.
To offer its customers optimum products and services, a system vendor must do so much more than just develop software. That's why COSMO CONSULT has recently entered into a cooperation with the market researchers and analysts Gartner. Uwe Bergmann, CEO of the COSMO CONSULT group, explains the reasons: "In the field of IT, Gartner has been the analysis company that recognizes the trends and sets the course for years. The neutral analyst speaks first and foremost with IT customers and thus gets direct feedback from companies that invest in IT and digital transformation. Of course, we also have an idea of what will influence the digital transformation of society, and of course in Microsoft we have a partner that is certainly very much on the cutting edge. But we also want to hear a neutral opinion. For our strategic orientation, we want to know how Gartner sees the world of tomorrow, and we want to integrate all that with our view of things."
These activities also have an effect on the portfolio, as Bergmann explained: "With Dynamics 365 we have ERP, CRM, business intelligence, a common data model, machine learning - that is to say artificial intelligence - already integrated in a suite. And then there is the entire topic of the digital workplace with Office 365 as fully integrated platform. Office 365 is not what we previously knew as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Now, it is real business software. We integrate that into our ERP solution, in our CRM solution, and in addition to that we have the BI solution of Power BI with options such as Cortana intelligence and machine learning. We complement that with other solutions such as our new product cc|scout, a context-based help system for business applications, to improve the use of software. This means that we try to bring everything together so that we can deliver it as an end-to-end solution, making data available seamlessly over the entire value chain. That doesn't mean that every customer must buy everything at once. Customers have the option to expand their systems gradually to take advantage of this full integration."
The digital processes and applications presented at the Hannover Messe trade fair are interesting both for traditional plant builders and medium-sized industrial enterprises. The scenarios are attractive for all companies who want to take care of their products throughout the entire life cycle and provide product-related services in the scope of new business models. First, there is the Kiel pump manufacturer EDUR that has received an order to produce a pump that delivers status messages via built-in sensors. An object trackertakes over continual status tracking. After installation, the sensors inform the pump manufacturer about imminent malfunctions. The malfunction can then be prevented through predictive maintenance. On-site, the mechanic uses the augmented reality glasses "Microsoft HoloLens" to display the defective or worn parts.
What works with the pump on the small scale, should be able to handle big problems as well. Shutdown management is certainly one of the biggest projects. During downtime for revisions in, for example, refineries, power plants or steel mills no money is made, but rather money is spent. These periods of production downtime can be used by a modern shutdown management in a highly efficient manner. The foundation for this is the digital construction site, which was developed by COSMO consult in cooperation with the Fraunhofer IFF of Magdeburg. It is a scenario that has been awarded the Innovationspreis-IT of Initiative Mittelstand twice in a row, an important innovation award for medium-sized businesses.
This means first of all that the construction site must have appropriate internet technology and be digitally mapped itself. Today, you get only a paper copy of the site plan in an industrial park or on refinery grounds. But, a digital map, which visualizes the construction site and can differentiate between storage areas, hazardous areas and transport routes makes more sense. Further, the planning data from the engineering department must be transmitted to the construction site in digital form. Real-time information, for example, about the logistics must also flow back from the site.
Because for large projects such as refineries up to 5,000 people, who belong to a variety of companies from the most diverse trades, are employed during the shutdown collaboration across company boundaries is of great importance. So it is useful to place everything in a limited-time cloud solution for the duration of the project. For example, a builders-contractors-suppliers portal in a web-based cloud environment was created, in this case an Azure-Cloud solution - that made support apps available for everyone working at the construction site. The planning data is available to the craftsmen in the system and via the apps on their tablets and smartphones. This portal can also be used to register all staff working on a project. Using the portal, those with access can authenticate themselves to obtain the corresponding data.
Conceptually, such a standstill is nothing more than a construction site in a plant construction project. Therefore, COSMO CONSULT has developed an SME platform, through which smaller projects in plant construction can be listed. There the building blocks of the large projects are linked with ERP functions. This makes the solution viable especially for medium-sized companies. "In Hannover we are showing how we are already providing optimal support to the industry in the process of digital transformation with our cloud services and our solutions based on Microsoft technology. We deliver the advice, the technology and the tools from a single source", says Uwe Bergmann.