The Role of Maintenance Management
Maintenance Managers often stress the main goal of their department is to keep plant assets in peak operating condition. They achieve this through:
- Minimization of machine failure frequency and its probability
- Shortening of downtime
- Maximization of the productive lifespan of plant assets
- Assurance of a safe working environment
- Minimization of overall maintenance costs
- Conformity to ISO standards
To achieve these goals, Maintenance Managers stipulate a maintenance strategy (often with input from reliability engineers and production managers). This often includes:
- Predefined preventive maintenance schedules
- Planned shutdowns
- Procedures for unplanned curative maintenance activities
- Procedures for emergency situations (breakdowns)
With those objectives and procedures in mind, we can ask, what is the best way to manage maintenance activities?
The Advent of Maintenance Management Software (MMS)
In today’s digitalized world, paper and Excel are no longer viable ways of defining or following-up on maintenance activities.
Maintenance history is required for regular auditing and overview of maintenance and cost KPIs. To achieve this, dedicated Maintenance Management Software (MMS) is a must.
There are many MMSs on the market today. Each has advantages and specific features for its target industry (for example, embedded LOTO procedure and control for the chemical industry).
However, few of these MMSs integrate by default with standard ERP solutions like SAP S/4HANA. Others work purely as standalone MMSs.
To address this, companies already running—or planning to run—their business processes in SAP can benefit from using SAP S/4HANA’s standard embedded Asset Management solution (formerly known as Plant Maintenance).
SAP S/4HANA Asset Management solution is more than just a maintenance tool
The full SAP S/4HANA Asset Management portfolio is a range of end-to-end processes with a focus on assets (these are plant assets such as production installations).
The processes start with asset strategy and acquisition, include maintenance operations, and finish with the decommissioning process.
Some of these end-to-end processes are delivered through cloud solutions that present extra licensing costs such as: SAP Asset Strategy and Performance Management, SAP Asset Intelligence Network, and SAP Field Service Management, etc.
However, core maintenance processes are included in the standard SAP S/4HANA solution, and these are the main focus of this article.
Full Asset Management Maintenance Processes available in SAP S/4HANA
Asset Management in SAP S/4HANA covers up to 90-95% of maintenance processes independently of industry and size of production facility. The remaining 5-10% of needs are very specific. Examples include complicated LOTO procedures, sophisticated risk & safety management procedures (including permit handling), etc. However, all these requirements can be covered via the ‘Work Clearance Management’ add-on in SAP S/4HANA.
Asset Management in SAP S/4HANA includes all the core processes you’d expect of a maintenance software:
- Definition of preventive maintenance schedules (time-based or counter-based) with related maintenance activities, spare parts and—when needed—external services. SAP S/4HANA automatically generates preventive maintenance orders as soon as next preventive maintenance is due.
- Planning, scheduling, and execution of unplanned maintenance. This can be split into emergencies (breakdowns) and corrective maintenance activities that can be scheduled in the short term.
- Full refurbishment (internal or external), with inclusive revaluation of expensive parts like pumps, motors etc.
- Planning and follow-up of investment/project-related maintenance activities.
- Condition based maintenance for production installations using shop floor systems connected to SAP S/4HANA (e.g. MES/SCADA).
- And more
Integration of Asset Management with Business Processes
The unique strength of SAP S/4HANA, however, is its standard integration of Asset Management with related business processes. These include procurement of services, spare parts and associated inventory management, automatic replenishment (MRP) for stock materials, automatic update of counters from production orders, appearance of maintenance orders in production planning boards, and further features.
With SAP S/4HANA, all related planned and actual costs booked on maintenance orders—and thus plant assets on which maintenance is being performed—are directly posted on correct accounts and cost centers. This allows detailed and complete follow-up of all types of maintenance costs (internal labor, spare parts, services).
A New Look for Asset Management
People already working in previous versions of SAP (ERP or SAP S/4HANA) often found the interface they had to use robust but a little “functional”. However, the latest versions of the Asset Management solution in SAP S/4HANA (2019 and up) offer a very user-friendly and eye-catching interface. There is also a wide range of new apps which are available for a mobile use (tablet or smartphone). The paperless work floor is at last fully possible.
Want to see the improved interface? Below is the ‘Repair Malfunction’ web/mobile app used to register and process emergency maintenance. In this, you can define tasks and reserve required spare parts (from BOM or maintenance history) on-the-go. You can also indicate the progress of work execution (by means of start/pause/work done functionality).
New Apps for Reactive Maintenance
Another big improvement is the introduction of a new set of user-friendly web/mobile apps under ‘Reactive Maintenance’ scope, which cover the full corrective maintenance process.
Starting in SAP S/4HANA 2021, a new app, ‘Screen Maintenance Requests’, also simplifies the whole gatekeeping process for reported maintenance requests.
New features in this ‘Screen Maintenance Requests’ app allow you to indicate whether a request has been accepted for further processing, rejected (including indication of the reason), or whether extra information has been required of the requestor.
Phase or Sub-phase—a better overview of processing status
My personal choice for best new enhancement is the appearance of phases and sub-phases complementary to standard maintenance order statuses.
Previously, it was very difficult to follow-up on which processing stage maintenance orders and related activities occurred at a specific point of time. This was because existing statuses did not clearly indicate the state of play, forcing us to foresee extra statuses which in turn had to be set manually.
From now on, you can get a clear overview of the processing status of your orders. Phases and sub-phases are set automatically based on the action that has been performed on the maintenance order/activity (e.g. order is scheduled, work started, etc.).
The Paperless Work Floor is Coming
There’s more good news for maintenance departments which opt to let technicians work paperless and register work execution using mobile devices. The ‘Perform Maintenance Jobs’ app is going to make a lot of people very happy.
The ‘Perform Maintenance Jobs’ app now makes it possible to pick planned maintenance activities from a list of designated work (assigned to a technician or to a work team). Once selected, you can:
- Indicate the execution status for each job with ‘START’ / ‘PAUSE’ / ‘WORK DONE’ buttons
- Confirm consumption of used planned spare parts and add unplanned spare parts
- Specify malfunction details (damage type / cause of the damage / etc.) to enable Root Cause Analysis.
- Enter time confirmation.
- (when required) Create follow-on maintenance requests
Improved Live Dashboards
On the subject of following up on (un-)planned maintenance activities (and even related purchasing documents), Asset Management in SAP S/4 HANA now has a wide range of amazing dashboards that provide up-to-date situations at a glance.
Below are some examples of ‘Maintenance Planning Overview’ and completely new apps that allow you to manage your Maintenance Backlog.
Scheduling Made Easy
And for users that have been waiting a long time for user-friendly graphical scheduling, there’s more good news! The updated apps in ‘Resource Scheduling for Maintenance Planners’ now provide this functionality (additional license costs are required).
The previous SAP MRS (Multi Resource Scheduling) add-on was too complex and did not fully meet the core needs of maintenance schedulers.
But the recently enhanced (SAP S/4 HANA 2021) ‘Maintenance Scheduling Board’ now provides ease-of-use, a clear overview, and complete scheduling functionality for maintenance schedulers via a graphical view.
Maintenance activities can now be scheduled by means of drag and drop with up-to-date information on the available capacity of the related team (work center).
One of the known pain points in the Asset Management (formerly known as Plant Maintenance) solution of SAP was reporting. No standard available KPI’s or operational reporting were available, and users couldn’t get an at-a-glance view of breakdown analysis or maintenance costs information.
Thanks to Embedded Analytics functionality of SAP S/4HANA, eye catching and clear reports are now available for Asset Management.
For example, breakdown analysis now allows you to follow-up and dive into the breakdown history and related indicators like Mean Time to Repair, Mean Time between Repair, or Time to Repair in general.
In addition, there’s also basic failure analysis which gives information on the most frequent damages and associated causes for a certain time span, per type of machine, or specific machine.
There are also newly available apps for the analysis of planned and actual costs. These can be based on installation, order type, and evolution of the costs over the past years, for example.
SAP S/4HANA’s new Asset Management solution provides almost full maintenance scope independent of industry, maturity or size of different sites. It provides out-of-the box functionality for the management and follow-up of core maintenance processes largely without extra license costs.
One of the many advantages it delivers is its integration as standard with other S/4 HANA modules such as finance & controlling, purchasing, inventory management, and production.
Furthermore, it allows you to make use of a document management solution like SAP’s and even integrate with Microsoft SharePoint.
Increasing availability of mobile apps allows to make the paperless work floor a reality, and thus deliver real-time updates of maintenance execution data. And real-time machine data by connectivity to external shop floor systems can further optimize the solution.
And finally, a user-friendly and intuitive interface, thanks to Fiori technology, minimizes the change management impact and resistance of maintenance personnel to effectively using the solution.