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    Connected production: Rivella puts its trust in SAP Digital Manufacturing

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    In collaboration with Krones, Rivella has developed a manufacturing execution system (MES) for centrally collecting data, thus laying the foundation for a digital factory.
    • The Swiss beverage producer Rivella is headquartered in Rothrist. Image credits:


    Rivella enjoys a sort of cult status in Switzerland: Around 96 percent of the Swiss population knows and loves the drink made by the eponymous company, which has been producing non-alcoholic beverages for exactly 70 years – and is increasingly seizing the opportunities afforded by the digital transformation. In collaboration with Krones, the family-owned and operated company has developed a manufacturing execution system (MES) for centrally collecting data, thus laying the foundation for a digital factory.

    Rivella AG is the biggest Switzerland-based group of companies making branded soft drinks and in 2021 was named best employer in Switzerland. Its most well-known drink is its namesake carbonated soft drink, Rivella, which has been produced since 1952 and has become a household name and a cultural icon in Switzerland. The drink is about one-third whey and is also available in Holland, Luxemburg, and parts of France and Austria. But it isn’t the only item in this deeply rooted portfolio. In Rothrist, in the canton of Aargau, Rivella AG also produces other soft drinks, such as the vitamin-water drink Focuswater and Michel brand fruit-juice products.

    Digital room for improvement

    While updating machines and lines is an important step for companies wanting to exploit all the advantages of the digital transformation in production, it is by no means the only one. And Rivella sees great potential in digital technology for production. Fabian Steiner, project manager at Rivella, understands that the company has plenty of room for improvement in this area: “A few years ago, we invested in new, state-of-the-art filling lines. But we weren’t able to capture the operational status of the lines centrally, and a lot of information and processes continued to run locally. As a result, we had interfacing problems, loss of information, and ultimately a lack of data transparency.” To eliminate this weakness and provide employees with a state-of-the-art, fully integrated and easy-to-use tool, Rivella partnered with Krones to develop a manufacturing execution system (MES) based on the SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence Overall Equipment Effectiveness (MII OEE) solution. The MES is perfectly tailored to Rivella, to provide greater transparency in production, and it went live on November 1, 2021.

    Why did Rivella choose to partner with Krones on this? “Krones’ experience and technical expertise in the beverage industry, coupled with the SAP knowledge that Krones AG’ specialists bring to the table and the robust SAP system itself made the decision easier,” explains Fabian Steiner. “In the selection talks, we noticed that Krones understood our lines and our concerns and would be able to offer effective solutions.”

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    Christian Schreglmann, Fabian Steiner, Dr. Josef Rammensee, and Martin Hänggi (from left to right) worked together on the project

    Connected production thanks to SAP MII OEE Management

    SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII) is a proven solution for the processing industry within the SAP Manufacturing Execution System (SAP MES). It establishes the connection between manufacturing and other business operations, delivering all relevant production data to the company.

    The SAP MII OEE Management is an add-on to SAP MII, extending it with several functions. As a leading indicator of production, the OEE metric measures overall line availability. The data necessary for calculating it can be automatically collected from the production systems. Dashboards provide better visualization of the relevant data at a glance – on desktop computers and mobile devices alike.

    SAP MII OEE’s main tasks at a glance:

    • Production and order management 
    • Automatic production data acquisition
    • Analytics and reporting
    • Central dashboard for production personnel

    With SAP’s MII OEE solution, all data, processes, and systems can be connected and analyzed so that manufacturers have transparency over their production operations at all times. The big advantage is that it makes it possible to uncover the root causes of production losses, take corrective measures, and monitor progress. But the SAP specialists at Krones don’t simply apply the solution’s existing standard functions. They also add properties that are important to the specific customer – just as they did on the Rivella project, where they have implemented a beverage template that Krones’ SAP team developed specifically for the beverage and liquid food industry.

    Successful commissioning, one step at a time

    At the start of the collaboration, the customer’s needs were discussed in joint meetings and, on that basis, a list of functional specifications was drafted. This list served as the technical basis for the intensive development and integration work. “Step by step, we were able to turn our wants and needs into hands-on reality. We regularly tested the developments on our pilot line before commissioning. During the development stage, we were able to make targeted improvements wherever necessary until we finally had a stable, well-functioning system that we could bring online,” sums up Fabian Steiner. By using a prototype, we were able to address change requests or issues directly, significantly reducing the time and effort involved in making adjustments after commissioning.

    Overcoming complex challenges in a spirit of collaboration

    The sometimes highly complex issues and concerns presented great challenges for implementing the project, but regular communication and the Krones team’s expertise in the beverage industry made it possible to overcome them. Despite the difficult circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, the collaboration was always productive and infused with a spirit of partnership. As Fabian Steiner aptly puts it, “Things just clicked ¬– not only the technical side but also the human side. The entire project team really enjoyed working together in a constructive, collaborative atmosphere – and in the end, that was a crucial factor for our success.”

    Project: SAP Digital Manufacturing
    Customer: Rivella AG
    Implementation: End of 2021

    Integration of an MES system with SAP MII OEE


    • Moving from paper-based towards digital production management
    • Production data acquisition: Fully automatic collection and standardization of machine data
    • Reporting and introduction of OEE metrics

    Advantage: Increased transparency and efficiency in production processes and reduced administrative burden thanks to centralized data collection

    The future is digital

    With the implementation of the SAP solution, Rivella is taking a huge step towards achieving a digital factory. Although it will take some time before we can assess the long-term effects, it is already apparent that this is simplifying a number of processes quite considerably. For example, in the distribution of production orders, in the automatic collection of downtime data, and in the sharing of performance data to the SAP ERP system. These improvements to production processes, which can be attributed to the central data collection model, help to reduce the amount of administrative work involved and the burden on operating personnel on the shop floor. Rivella’s medium and long-term goals are to use the deeper insights afforded by the system to improve production efficiency and thereby lower costs, for instance by reducing the frequency and duration of unscheduled downtimes.

    For Rivella, the MES project is not the end of the company’s digital journey – far from it. As Fabian Steiner puts it, “Digital technology is and remains a key issue for us. We firmly believe that digital innovation will be absolutely essential to our ability to remain successful on the market.” For that reason, the Swiss company intends to incorporate digital technology even more heavily in its business strategy and, in future, to deepen its digital expertise not only in production but also in other areas of its business and invest in further optimization.

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