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Managing Calibrations in SAP

by Craig Read, Divisional Engineer: MGO2 and SAP Planning, AMIMechE, Sappi Saiccor (Pty) Ltd (Reg. no. 1989/001135/07)

SAP PM has been well entrenched in the business since the first implementation of SAP in 1998 and is used to schedule all maintenance work. One area in which work scheduling using SAP PM had proved challenging and where we've had limited buy-in was in the area of instrument calibrations.

An existing well-established calibration system was in place at Sappi Saiccor before the implementation of SAP which had been developed by the instrumentation department. This system consisted of calibration certificates that were generated from excel and work scheduling that was done through Microsoft Outlook. The main reason for the system being run outside of SAP was that there was no logical method of capturing and retrieving the calibration results within SAP. Therefore it became easier to manage the work and results outside of SAP and consequently a parallel system of managing and generating work was operating within the business.

A directive given from the SAP Project Team at Sappi was that all maintenance work must be managed, scheduled and costed within SAP and all parallel systems of work management must be integrated into SAP. Although other very sophisticated software packages exist for managing calibrations it was required that we develop this within SAP. Therefore the challenge set before us was to integrate the existing calibration management system into SAP without compromising any of the existing systems functionality in capturing results.

This paper will briefly explain the rationale and results of the implementation and some of the challenges experienced. In doing so the following topics will be covered.

  1. A brief introduction to SAPPI
  2. Explanation of the requirements of instrument calibrations
  3. Making calibrations work in SAP.
  4. Training and buy-in from the end users
  5. Reporting and auditing

1. A brief introduction to Sappi

Sappi Ltd is a South African Pulp and Paper producer which is has its head office in Johannesburg South Africa. Sappi has operations in South Africa, Europe and North America and recently in China. 16,000 people are employed globally with Sappi. The South African operation consists of 8 paper/pulp mills and the North American operation consists of 4 mills. The SAP 4.6 implementation was done for all the South African mills in 2004.

Saiccor was the mill selected to pilot the calibration implementation. Saiccor is the world's largest producer of chemical cellulose and currently produces 600,000 tons of pulp annually. It is located 50km south of the sunny city of Durban in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province of South Africa. Recently a $430million expansion was undertaken and due to be completed in May 2008.

2. Requirements of instruments calibrations

Sappi has ISO9000 and ISO14000 accreditation. With increasing concern over the environment and the responsibility of companies towards this, environmental monitoring is of paramount importance. Monitoring of the production process is also very important as the quality of the product must meet customer requirements.

Saiccor has developed an extensive environmental monitoring system both in the mill and within the local community in order to monitor any possible infringements on emissions from the mill.

All of the instruments used for environmental monitoring as well as all process critical and safety loops have been identified and listed. Each of these instrument loops has been given specific calibration points that the instrument must be checked at and each loop has a specific calibration certificate which must be completed to ensure that the instrument has been correctly checked and is operating within acceptable limits of accuracy. The records of each calibration check must be completely traceable.

Many of the instruments have similar methods of calibration but some of the instruments have specific calibration methods which are more complicated.

3. Making Calibrations work in SAP

The most important focus in managing calibrations in SAP was ensuring that the end product would be at least equal to or better than the current system. In order to do this it was necessary to become familiar with the all aspects of the calibration process, specifically at an end user level.

Time was spent in the field with technicians performing calibrations on various different types of instruments. The variety of different types of instrument calibration methods was where the major challenge in implementing calibrations in SAP was experienced.

The basic requirements for the implementation into SAP were:

  1. SAP must generate the work order according to the correct scheduling information for each instrument to be calibrated.
  2. The calibration results must be captured into SAP and should be easily retrievable.
  3. A calibration certificate must be generated in SAP and should be printable containing all the information required to prove that the instrument was calibrated correctly.

Work order scheduling

A spreadsheet containing the tag number and functional location for each ISO9000, ISO14000 and safety critical instrument was drawn up. The spreadsheet was then populated with the calibration points and instrument drift tolerances specific to each instrument. All old and outdated maintenance plans and task lists were located for the instrument loops and these were also populated into the spreadsheet. A full new set of maintenance task lists and maintenance plans were created specifically for the project - this was done in order to "wipe the slate clean" and start a fresh with new and accurate data. No development on standard SAP was required up to this point.

Capturing of results into SAP

In order to capture calibration results in SAP we made use of the inspection lot functionality within the task list. The inspection lot functions as a sort of sub-task list and consists of inspection characteristics. The inspection lot is comparable to a task list and the inspection characteristics are comparable to operations in the task list. The inspection characteristics are highly customizable and were well suited for use in calibration information collection. An inspection lot for each instrument was built containing the specific calibration characteristics for that instrument.

As mentioned above the major challenge in developing calibrations management in SAP was due to the different methods employed in calibrating instrumentation. The most notable of these is that some instruments are always calibrated at the same five test points e.g. temperature probes or pressure gauges, whilst others by virtue of what is being measured cannot always be calibrated using the same five test points within the instrument measuring range.

A good example of this is our SO2 gas monitors - these instruments are calibrated by mixing test gas with air to as close as possible to a known concentration. Because the mixing process is complicated it is not always possible to attain the exact same concentrations of test gas each time the instrument is calibrated. So every time the instrument is calibrated it is done relative to the gas concentrations attained on that specific day. We call this type of calibration input dependent because the test points are not always the same and are dependent on what will be input to the instrument on the day of calibration. This caused difficulties in the building of master data as the calibration points were not fixed for some instruments. Some development work was required in SAP order to accommodate these complications in calibration method (The development was mainly done on the calibration certificate and not on SAP functionality).

The instruments were grouped into various different calibration types or scenarios and slightly different development was done on each one. Inspection lot templates were built up for each scenario so that master data for instruments with similar methods of calibration could be easily built in the future.

Certificate Development

A calibration certificate containing all the details of the instrument and calibration results was developed. The development allowed for the different types/scenarios of calibrations to reflect the correct information on the certificate. The end product is a basic print layout which can be previewed using the PM order number as a reference.

The certificate contains all the test points used in the calibration, the results of the calibration and the tolerances of error allowed. The user ID of the person capturing the calibration results as well as the date and time and date of next required calibration are present on the certificate. Once the results of the calibration have been recorded and accepted in SAP - the calibration certificate cannot be altered. Thus the certificate is edit proof and electronically linked in SAP to the functional location and work order.

4. Training and end user buy-in

Initially there was much scepticism from the end user that calibrations could be easily managed in SAP. But during the development stage the whole instrument department from the Engineer to each technician performing the calibrations were consulted. Much time was spent explaining the logic and benefits of the system both to the management and end users.

In order to capture the calibration results in SAP some new SAP transactions were required. Training was put together that covered the business process, the management and SAP transactions required to make the system work. The training was done classroom style using a development SAP client with relevant information loaded onto it covering each different type of scenario built into the system. Every effort was taken to simulate the real event in the training.

The management of change proved successful and upon Go-Live in September 2004 the old system was abandoned and the new system has been utilized until present. Some inaccuracies in instrument calibration specifications were identified within the first three months and since then basic maintenance as on the rest of the PM system has been applied.

4. Reporting and Auditing

The calibration implementation in SAP had a large focus on the accuracy and security of the information captured. Thus there was a roll on effect to audit credibility. If any instrument loop came into question in an audit - the calibration certificate could be found easily as it resides in SAP and is linked to the Functional via the PM order and thus the entire recorded history of the instrument calibration is available electronically. A hard copy signed and filed was also required from the auditors and the system is able to provide this functionality. Because the certificate is tamper proof after the information has been captured and accepted into SAP, the certificates have far more credibility than the previous excel generated certificates. Also there is more adequate control and transparency over the scheduling of calibration work which is easily viewed through the maintenance plan of each instrument.


The management of calibrations was effectively implemented in SAP4.6.

This was done by:

  1. Identifying all instruments where calibration results needed to be captured - driven by safety, ISO90000 and ISO14000
  2. Investigating the different types of calibrations done and the methods employed.
  3. Building the master data in SAP: firstly task lists and maintenance plans and then inspection lots with characteristics.
  4. Developing the calibration certificate print layout for each type of calibration.
  5. Consulting with all levels of personnel and generating buy-in during the implementation of the project.
  6. Developing training material that represented real situations.

The technical details of the implementation are extensive.

Discuss this article at the SAP Plant Maintenance Special Interest Group at

Author Biography

by Craig Read, Divisional Engineer: MGO2 and SAP Planning, AMIMechE, Sappi Saiccor (Pty) Ltd (Reg. no. 1989/001135/07). 

I am a Mechanical Engineer with a BScENG(Mechanical) from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. I am currently employed as a maintenance engineer of the Secondary Recovery and Evaporator sections of our Pulp Mill. I am also responsible for the PM SAP Planning department. I am a South African Citizen and reside in the town of Amanzimtoti (just south of Durban) in Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa.

Paper originally presented at EAM-2008 Enterprise Asset Management Summit (SAP Plant Maintenance Strategy Track).

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