SAP is buying software company Lighthammer for an undisclosed sum.

The privately held company is already an SAP partner, and the buy will provide SAP's 12,000 manufacturing customers a rapid productivity boost, the company claimed.

Lighthammer's Collaborative Manufacturing Suite will become part of SAP's xApps family of composite applications. XApps sit on top of SAP's NetWeaver middleware platform, enabling companies to create complete workflows using both SAP and other third-party applications.

SAP said the acquisition will help streamline hand-coding of interfaces to work with shop-floor production systems. Customers will also be able to use the Lighthammer software to receive alerts about changes in manufacturing performance and respond accordingly. They can also use the integrated system for business intelligence and visualisation operations, including root-cause analysis and to drill down into data to learn more about the implications of manufacturing glitches that occur.

"Breaking down the barrier between the plant floor and the business systems is key to manufacturing and supply chain productivity," said Kirk Royster, manager of global enterprise architecture at SAP customer Dow Corning.

No layoffs have been announced and Lighthammer employees will remain at their existing location.