SAP DMS and Visual Enterprise
In 2011 SAP bought a New Zealand company called Right Hemisphere. Right Hemisphere’s claim to fame was the ability to generate 3D graphics that were rich, deep and full of meaning with really small files. Their viewer was embedded in the Adobe reader. So CAD packages have been able to render 3D images for a long time but Right Hemisphere, through clever use of vector graphics, were able reduce these to a size that were globally accessible (think Cloud and mobile) and still maintain information to enable querying (think visual reporting) and manipulation of the files (and here you need to think of 3D works instructions).
An example of VE visualisation
Where SAP ERP uses CAD drawings (or for that matter any documents created in another package, including Word, Excel etc) it has always been necessary to ensure that the correct (most recent, approved) document is presented when executing the SAP ERP transaction. This could be for works instructions on a work order, technical drawings on a piece of equipment or a 3D parts catalogue. To achieve this various options to convert the document have been implemented. The most common is to use a pdf conversion engine to convert the document once it has been approved to a pdf documents with watermarks, including version numbers, approved by, etc. SAP DMS is a great solution within the SAP Business Suite that can be used for the management of ALL documents especially when the document is linked to SAP ERP objects. SAP DMS contains metadata, controls the revisions and versions, manages redlining and has a comprehensive workflow engine for approvals and escalations. But it does need to be set-up and configured correctly. And as the VE / DMS admin guide mentions “Some customizing steps are performed in DMS as this is the triggering point for conversion.” This configuration is part of a standard DMS implementation.
SAP Visual Enterprise Foundation Integrated Product Stack with CAD Package and Content Server (image from SAP)
As of Enhancement Pack 4 there is native SAP Document Management System functionality to convert the original CAD file to a Visual Enterprise (.RH) and then if needed the RH file to a pdf document. And so what does this mean? It means, at least, that there is now a standard SAP solution to link 3D CAD drawings to business objects and present these in a controlled way.
The real value of this software will be in linking it to business transactions in SAP. Give us a call if your company could benefit from this and are ready to explore opportunities – we’re ready to run.