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Championing SAP Plant Maintenance at Your Organization

Here is a two phase approach:
a) Optimizing use of SAP PM in department
b) Increasing integration with other modules

Optimize the use of SAP PM in your business

1. Keep SAP plant maintenance data clean:

This is the most difficult task to maintain on a day-to-day basis. Once data (master data and transaction data) is in control, other pieces will fall into place.
No one likes to work with a system when they can't trust the information provided by the system. Hence, keeping maintenance data clean is really important and beneficial. Here are a few tips on how to achieve that:

a. Keep work order and notification list always current (IW38/IW28)
b. Make it easy to find equipment/functional location. Standardized naming conventions, field usages and, variants setup in IH08/IH06, etc. goes a long way to increasing usability.
c. Keep master data accurate.
d. Review preventive maintenance program. Don't let the system overload you with unnecessary repetitive preventive work order. For example, review maintenance frequency. Easy way to increase frequency is to increase ‘cycle modification factor' on maintenance plan's scheduling parameter tab (IP02).

2. Expand scope / Increase depth of SAP Plant maintenance functionality:

If there is business justification for using detailed plant maintenance functionality, for example boiler, compressor, earth movers, production line, etc., maintenance is dependent on its usage, then it is recommended to implement performance based maintenance program with counters (IK01/IK02). Ensure that correct annual estimates are entered and correct/appropriate scheduling parameters are selected in maintenance plans (IP01/IP02). A second step would be to build ‘bill of materials (BOMs)' for critical equipment (CS01/CS02). If you are using SAP PM for a while, you can run a simple report of ‘Material where used list' (IW13) and get quick information for BOMs. Once equipment data is updated with BOM information, technicians can quickly look for parts required for repair. Another area to explore is warranty management, which is a separate topic in itself.

3. Increase breadth of SAP plant maintenance business processes:

Find business processes that can be folded into SAP PM umbrella. Here are a few suggestions from my past experience:
SAP PM module can be used for maintaining equipment assets as well as buildings/facilities. If your building maintenance crew and contracts are not already under a SAP PM umbrella, bring it in. Building/Facility manager can track crew much more easily. Let's say, your company is giving a yearly contract for HVAC maintenance. Whenever a call is made to contractors for repair/maintenance, create a service work order. Refer that to contract PO and perform service entry sheets and track services performed by contractors. This will give managers better idea when they are planning for next year's contracts.

If building and facility maintenance crew is involved in moves, repair of building track their utilization via work order. Make a prepared check list or task list (IA05/IA06) for repetitive work. For example: a) my office is too hot/too cold b) office move check list, etc. This will streamline processes and increase productivity of the crew.

4. Integrate with inventory management:

Inventory management is not a primary function of maintenance and often the maintenance department doesn't have the expertise to optimize inventory performance. Technicians like to keep additional spare parts on everything. This will increase inventory cost of the maintenance department. Often inventory is inaccurate and not stored properly, which results in ordering parts again.

Integrate inventory management with plant maintenance by setting up material masters for inventoried items (MM01/MM02). Populate correct ‘min / max data'. Run material requirement planning (MRP) and let purchasing perform inventory replenishment. Perform regular inventory counting, with emphasis on accuracy of information. Make sure stores man/technician is performing goods movement (MIGO) for part consumed and part returned. For parts required for repetitive maintenance, you can add components to maintenance task list (IA05/IA06). This will ensure parts are available when needed. You can also use back flushing indicator to reduce transactions for goods movement. If your organization can't delegate spares management to the Inventory department, ask for expertise.

5. Integrate with Purchasing

The tricky part of purchasing non-stocked spare part is it's not repetitive like manufacturing. It gets more complex if you have old assets or very unique assets like PCL controllers from 1970s. So the real question is how to make purchasing more effective when you let the buyer buy spare with best terms with given specification. To streamline the process, create non-stock purchase requisition from the maintenance work order. Describe part via proper material group, description, vendor number, etc (IW32). Technicians can now track purchase requisition's progress from the work order including visibility of purchase-order. This process provides great visibility of maintenance order in tracking parts through order-to-consumer cycle.

Same process applies for purchasing services for maintenance work. Using service entry sheets (ML81N) will make sure technicians are satisfied with vendor's work before invoice is paid.

Implement purchase requisition approval strategy to track accountability for approvals.

6. Integrate with production planning

For production facilities, often maintenance works gets lower priority until equipment break-down occurs. Production planner can integrate their planning with preventive maintenance planning by use of work centers in equipment master record. In work order/task list specify system condition = 0. The planner can use CM50/CM21 to plan capacity.

Another option is to provide simplified screen to create breakdown notification (IW21) from the production line. Workflow can be setup to send SMS/email to technicians' pagers/mobile for prompt response. This ensures all breakdowns are recorded for reliability and downtown analysis.

7. Integrate with Finance/controlling

Organization should perform cost controlled activities for maintenance personnel time and material via maintenance work orders. Technicians should enter actual hours for work orders (IW41) and record all part/service consumption on order. Finance department should perform regular cost settlement for orders. If maintenance is keeping data accurate this can be fairly smooth transition that provides great visibility for KPI at management level.


An organization's performance is related to tracking and managing the flow of information, material and finances. As the plant maintenance department is tightly linked to purchasing, inventory and finance, effort spent on integrating to other related modules will improve the organization's overall performance.

Note: All transaction codes are in parenthesis example: (IW21 - Create notification)

Rajen Patel - blog website

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