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Optimizing SAP/PM with ‘Best Practices’

The Amarillo, TX plant of the 'ABC' Corporation employed nearly 700 people and had a maintenance staff of approximately 80 craftsmen and supervisors. In early 2006, the plant had been told that their current SAP software system, rolled out in 1999, was to be upgraded to a more modern version in 2007. It was determined by the plant management that this would be a prime opportunity to move the plant into more planned and scheduled, proactive work, thus becoming less dependent on unscheduled, reactive work. In doing this, the client wanted to create 'standard operating procedures' (SOP's) to document how they wanted to conduct maintenance activities within the plant and create more equipment and process reliability.

All in all, a number of critical conditions were noted beyond the advent of new SAP-PM software that drove their decision towards this new goal:

• Business Drivers
- Current SAP version did not provide the kinds of data they needed to make better decisions
- How to handle knowledge management (retention) from their aging workforce
- Desired better integration with all plant databases
- Desire for most cost / benefit analysis capability

• Maintenance Work Process
- Work request review / approval process not well defined
- Capturing accurate / timely equipment history data was limited
- Planning and scheduling process in place, but not effective
- Desire for more proactive vs. reactive environment

A 'team' was established with representatives from within maintenance, operations, engineering and management to establish a workable solution and a schedule for resolution of the above conditions. Their primary objectives were to:

• Develop a more proactive Asset Reliability Maintenance management approach
• Re-establish the role and job description for the Maintenance Planner
• Get the Operations Group more involved in the maintenance activity

After some initial meetings, we suggested that the process begin with an assessment of the current maintenance operations at the Amarillo plant with specific focus on the use of the current SAP software in place and the extent of the current planning and scheduling activities that was in place within the plant. From that, we could assist their Team in developing a specific set of recommendations geared toward improving the planning and scheduling activities, better utilizing the current and future software system.

Our recommendations were basically two-fold:

1. To take our standard Asset Reliability Maintenance (ARM) Model and tailor that model to the plant, specifically the Amarillo Plant operations. This we would do by creating a cross-functional team, facilitated by one or more of our senior consultant's to develop what would become the standardized approach for plant maintenance.

2. To re-configure the current SAP system with enhanced system codes (i.e., work order types, priority codes, equipment criticality codes, and other RCM-related codes for future analysis work, etc.), all of which would be transferable over to the new system.

After some final presentations by their Team and our consultant, with sufficient quantifiable justification for and increased emphasis on 'planning and scheduling' within maintenance, management was convinced of the need for the desired path forward.

The Process

It was decided to implement the new process in phases, which allowed a staged roll-out and the ability to produce quick 'wins' in the process to generate enthusiasm for the overall process and facilitate its completion. This new ARM Model included such functional areas as:

1. Work Identification and Control (i.e., the work order process)
2. Job Planning
3. Work Order Scheduling
4. Materials Coordination
5. Shutdown Coordination
6. PPM Optimization (Preventive and Predictive)
7. Key Performance Indicators and Management Reporting
8. EAM Guidelines/Instructions

Phase I of the process (the focus of this article) included the modules of Work Identification and Control, Job Planning, Work Order Scheduling and Shutdown Coordination. Key Performance Indicators and SAP-PM Guidelines/Instructions were developed and implemented in coordination with each of the above modules. Phase II would include the PPM Optimization which began in July 2007, and the MRO Inventory Model implementation slated for early 2008.

We arrived on site in April 2006 and the plant created its own Implementation Team, which consisted of 14 representatives from Maintenance, Operations, Stores and Corporate Maintenance Reliability. On the Implementation Team were supervisors and hourly personnel to represent the users of the process, as well as the Maintenance Leader to represent the plant leadership team and a corporate maintenance reliability member to represent the company's interest in rolling out the new process in other facilities worldwide. The corporate maintenance reliability person was crucial in setting up and coordinating the modifications required for the SAP-PM software, as well as knowing other best practices which were being used in other facilities.

Using PCA's proprietary approach to developing and implementing an effective Asset Reliability Maintenance Management strategy at the plant level, we decided to roll the process out in all plant areas simultaneously. For each of the four modules, our onsite consultant and their Implementation Team began with the process of writing the new ARM procedures and creating each participant's 'roles and responsibilities'. This included not only maintenance personnel, but operations personnel, engineering, storerooms and even some management personnel. A series of daily meetings lasting two to three weeks was required to complete each module. At the conclusion, each module was presented to the Plant Steering Team for review and approval. After approval, the Implementation Team trained the Maintenance and Operations leaders and supervisors on the contents of the module. The leaders and supervisors for each area were asked to inform their employees. Then the module was placed into service and monitored by the Implementation Team as the next module was developed. Audits were performed four to six weeks after implementation to insure that the procedures were being followed. It took approximately six months to complete the development and implementation of the four modules.

It was extremely important to the success of the project to involve the end users during the creation of an asset reliability maintenance system. It not only develops buy-in necessary to make it work, it also avoids the pitfalls to successful implementation from the maintenance craftsmen, operations, and other support areas.

The Key to success

It was recognized early in the process that the Maintenance Planner role was the cornerstone to a successful asset reliability maintenance system. The company already had planner positions in place, but they were limited in effectiveness. In the beginning of the PCA process, the Maintenance Planner criteria with roles and responsibilities were redefined right up front:

• Knowledge of plant and equipment maintenance
• Proactive attitude
• Better than average computer skills
• Ability to handle the "details"
• Good communication and negotiation skills
• Focused, organized, multi-tasking ability...etc.

The initial 'roles and responsibilities' for the Planner (as developed in the final ARM Model) were:

• Must focus on future work, not on day-to-day work
• Responsible for all aspects of the work order planning process
- Accuracy of the data used
- Procurement / reservation of parts and materials
- Development of a final "job plan"
- Successful communication of that job plan
• Creates the Maintenance Weekly Schedule
- Coordinates with both production and engineering
• Delivers the schedule and job packages to supervision

After a review of the amount of work that was coming in, the company choose to add an additional planner, increasing the number to three. This gave them a craftsmen/planner ratio of approximately 20:1, which would be considered in the normal range. Back-up planners were also selected to replace planners when they are out of the plant. A materials coordinator position was also created to improve the efficiency of the planning process. All the planners, back-up planners and the material coordinator received a two week planning class taught by a PCA Specialist to improve their planning skills and proficiency. We believe that this is a necessary step in the development of highly proficient planners. It is also important to note that the planners are focused on work 2 to 5 weeks in the future, not on the daily emergencies. To reinforce this, one of the responsibilities developed in the maintenance supervisor's role is to plan craft time, necessary tools and acquire materials for the urgent work that is required in less than one week's time. This keeps the planner focused on future work and out of the daily reactive mode.

The Benefits

There were many benefits associated with this entire project. First of all, this project developed a written procedure of how maintenance work would be performed and established clearly defined roles and responsibilities for all the participants. This project reconfigured the existing SAP-PM system used throughout most 'company's' facilities to be more beneficial in identifying work, tracking equipment histories, and identifying failure modes and causes. The changes made were designed to be compatible with future upgrades to the system.

This project created a structured work identification, categorization and approval system within the existing SAP-PM system, further utilizing its capabilities. This project changed a fairly reactive planning system into a highly efficient proactive planning and scheduling system. This project created a weekly work schedule developed by maintenance and operations along with a highly detailed daily work schedule for maintenance craftsmen to improve work efficiency. This project created a detailed backlog of available work to understand work trends and craft availability information. Finally, this project created many metrics by which the company can measure their progress on the long road of improvement.

Overall, both the company and PCA felt that the replacement of a reactive maintenance system with a planned and scheduled maintenance system has increased their maintenance productivity, i.e., wrench time for the craftsman. This has increased their overall ability to do more work, both scheduled and unscheduled.

Some of the benefits associated with the project began to show up rather quickly. For instance:

• More meaning communications with all parties involved
• Maintenance, Operations, and Engineering all have input
• Maintenance Planners were becoming a "Key" role
• Better interdepartmental coordination
• Commitment to the process
- Workers see upper and mid-management sticking to the process
• Uptime has improved in the plant according to their documented 'Planning and Scheduling' metrics

The development and implementation of such a dramatic shift in thinking with regards to Asset Reliability Management and expanded use of the SAP-PM software did not, however, come without some reluctance and trepidation at the plant level.

A few of the circumstances the Team encountered and had to work through were:

• Acceptance of new proactive practices
- Maintenance department took pride in completing work requests ASAP, had minimal backlog
- This quick reaction lacked adequate planning, record keeping, and job feedback
• Distractions of ongoing project work and other plant initiatives

The Continuing Steps Are To:

• Continue the implementation of their Asset Reliability 'Best Practices' Model and associated training
• Focus on the Storeroom and MRO Materials Coordination Processes
• Move to the next level of proactive reliability by strengthening our efforts on predictive and RCM activities
• Start collecting better data, making better decisions and improving their overall plant asset reliability.


As you can see, going down the path of Asset Reliability Maintenance Management is not an easy process. There have been many successes and a few failures in the new process. Progress does not come for free, nor will it come without resistance. The Amarillo Plant, has taken great pride in the process that we jointly developed, but knows that they still have a long journey to excellence ahead of them. Since that time, the company has implemented this same ARM ModelTM to other plants in Kansas City, Waxahachie, Jacksonville and Atlanta. Projects for the year 2010 are planned for their Aiken and Mexico facilities, and at least one plant in China.

Submitted By: Jim H. Davis, Director of Operations, PCA, Inc. Duluth, GA.

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