Geo Capture - Map Layers Concept

This page provides information on spatial layer functionality delivered in BlueWorx. It's intended to provide an introduction to the concepts and highlight how this innovative functionality may provide benefit to our customers and their users.

Background

Prior to the introduction of the Geo Capture functionality, BlueWorx could render geo-spatial coordinates from latitude and longitude characteristics maintained against Functional Locations and Equipment as defined in BlueWorx settings. By its nature this allowed for the recognition of assets based on a point represented as single latitude/longitude pair. So assets that were linear in nature (roads, rail, tracks, etc), or polygons (factory site, building, etc) were generally represented by their start point or mid-polygon point. 

BlueWorx Integration with ESRI ARC GIS

In addition, BlueWorx administrators could define layers to display information from ESRI ArcGIS systems. This can be associated with SAP assets through the use of shared keys being held in ESRI (for example the Equipment or FL reference, Technical ID or Inventory fields). This integration functionality continues to be supported in BlueWorx.

SAP Geo Spatial Enablement

In terms of locating work, beyond SAP linear asset management and long text, SAP does not as standard support geo-spatial enablement in SAP asset management until S4 HANA and even then with some third party requirements.

BlueWorx Map Layers Concept

As of BlueWorx Support Pack 7 we have moved from being restricted to being only able to display point asset information on FL and Equipment, to allowing the capture of spatial information related to the asset location, asset fault and work locations and and asset spatial annotations.

Asset work location example workflow

Here's an example workflow:

Role
Physical World
BlueWorx
SAP
PlannerWork Planning
Release routine Inspection Work Order for Power-line
Linesman InspectorWork Execution - Work OrderWork Order for Power-line Inspection
a. Inspect Power-line

b. Find Trees that are closeRaise new Notification
c. Continue Inspection

d. Find Trees that are closeRaise new Notification or add to existing. Include an Action showing where the Trees need trimming
e. Work CompletionFinish Inspection and SyncOrder Updates, Notification/s Created, Inspection Results
PlannerWork Planning - Review NotificationsPotentially review the locations of all Tree Trimming Actions and combine into logical work units (Work Orders)Assign Notification/s to Order and Release
ContractorWork ExecutionReview assigned Work and locations for Tree Trimming

a. Trim treesUpdate status of Actions and Work
b. Work CompletionComplete Order and SyncOrder and Work updated
PlannerWork Review
Reviews Order and Techos

Layer Functions

There are three available layer functions. They are:

  1. FL and Equipment asset Locations. Previously this was the lat/ long points derived from classification data . The types of spatial information has now been expanded - see Feature Types below for more on this
  2. FL and Equipment Annotations. This allows you to make notes about an asset. For example you could break a site down to denote special areas, add geographical features, etc
  3. FL and Equipment Actions (work) against either Notifications or Orders. This optionally allows you to mark exactly where work is required to be done, against a Notification and Asset (FL or Equip) or an Order and Asset (FL and Equip). Importantly any action you capture in a Notification is automatically carried into the Work Order for remedy.

Feature Types

Each Layer has an assigned type:

  • Point - a single latitude/ longitude pair (for example a power pole)
  • Line - is series of latitude/ longitude pairs (for example a road). Measured by a distance.
  • Polygon - an included area that has the same start and end point latitude/ longitude pair with 2 or more other point pairs (for example a building). Measured by an area. Note that BlueWorx does not support maintaining polygons within polygons - i.e. donut shapes, nor polygons that intersect themselves - i.e. figure 8.

In addition to these single features you can also configure multipart features. That is a number of Points or Polygons or Lines within a single Feature. There is only one description, comments, set of property values (if configured) for multipart features. If you require these per item then consider using multiple location layers. 

Definitions

Having outlined the Feature Types the following provides a more specific description of each:

  • Feature - Is an entity that consists of a Description, Comments, calculated length or area (where appropriate),  potentially some Properties and one Location. Example: The representation for electricity feeder line 
  • Location - Holds the spatial data for a Feature and consists of a collection of spatial Parts. From a data perspective it is a multipart array. Example: The geometry for an electricity feeder line
  • Part - Is an individual spatial Part. From a data point it is an array of co-ordinate pairs (latitude/ longitude). Example: An electrical line down one street which together with other street parts equates to the feeder line
  • Point - Is a single pair of coordinates within a Part (latitude/ longitude). Example: The electricity line has a start Point, change of directions Point and and end Point

The following diagrams can assist in understanding these terms. They have been sourced from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeoJSON and is Wikipedia Copyright:

Frequently asked questions

What are some examples of the configuration and operational use of this functionality?

For several examples of the use of this functionality see: Maintain Map Settings

Spatial data can be big, will this impact performance?

Warning: Data and performance boundaries on mobile and desktop exist. For this reason any movement to the use of large volumes of spatial data to BlueWorx and from other spatial systems should be carefully evaluated and tested. This is particularly evident on IE desktops where there are hard limits to the data we can store locally.

How do I upgrade from pre SP7 release?

Existing SAP Classification Characteristic data will be automatically converted during the SP7+ migration. Details of this conversion are documented here: SAP Classification Map Data on Conversion to SP7 Plus. That means on upgrade no specific technical or administrative work is required to retain the existing classification based functionality. 


The location of the map screens, previously in the Objects tab, has changed to its own tab. This is both to accommodate the new functionality and resolve the issue where many objects in an order pushed the map details so far down the screen that it wasn't apparent it was available/ hard to locate. So, as with all functional changes customer Testing and User Change Management is required.

Which options is right for my organisation?

In addition to broadening spatial location capabilities, this new layer functionality is about providing a single tool (BlueWorx) for work related information and enabling work related spatial information to be captured and tracked through to completion. 


Not all customers have a need for this functionality or even any spatial capabilities. So it makes sense to evaluate how to gain business benefits from the functionality and test this against real use cases, prior to moving to adoption. For example, if you're an ESRI ARC GIS customer, you may continue to use layer data from its services for the asset locations and use the Work Action functionality to record the location of work.

What about ESRI ArcGIS?

For organisations with existing ESRI ArcGIS capabilities, it remains the best option for sophisticated spatial asset location data, with the potential use of work spatial information being captured and overlaid in BlueWorx. For organisations with smaller asset numbers, the use of BlueWorx for location data, as has been done using classification values previously, may continue. 

What about S/4HANA spatial data and functions

The exciting evolution of S/4HANA to support spatial functions, provides options for interrogation of SAP for this purpose from BlueWorx on sync or on demand (online). Zag has successfully done this with a customer, outside of the core product. And while we see this as a future direction, it's not yet within the roadmap for BlueWorx, as we focus on the majority needs of SAP PM customers who are not yet on S/4HANA and using its spatial capabilities.

What more are you looking to do in this area?

We are open to feedback from our customers and prospective customers as to how maximize the value from this innovation. Our intent in the coming releases, and without commitment, is to:

  • Provide config option for length and area measures in miles 
  • Provide integration into Inspection functionality for locations (currently supports SAP Classification Point data)
  • Provide a 'red lining' option for Asset Location data (used in conjunction with next point)

We are also exploring the development of other BlueWorx components to provide a more focused management of spatial information on desktops.