Orders and technical information help on-site technicians carry out their tasks. Using the mobile solution, they can document maintenance work results directly in the SAP system. The innovative solution even makes calculating maintenance tasks and budget plans simpler and more transparent.
Regulatory authorities have significantly increased the documentation requirements of facility operators in many sectors. At the same time, maintenance processes are becoming more and more complex due to growing work safety and environmental compliance requirements. As responsibility for facilities is today rarely assigned to just one individual, increasingly more people are tasked with plant maintenance. As such, a comprehensive transfer of plant-specific knowledge to a larger employee circle is indispensable for the professional completion of tasks. In ERP systems such as SAP, comprehensive information is stored regarding facilities and technical objects, which is used to carry out maintenance tasks.
For many years, the Maintenance and Service Management Research Group of the German-speaking SAP User Group (otherwise known as the deutschprachigen SAP-Anwendergruppe e.V. or DSAG) has called for an SAP solution to allow the use of automatically generated checklists for maintenance. Now, a solution has finally been created which links SAP-based maintenance with pre-existing quality management data objects, in particular, inspection plans and lots. Orders, created manually or triggered by pre-determined maintenance plans, can now be automatically filled with object lists and corresponding inspection lots. The technician is provided with an individually created digital checklist on their mobile device for each object. After processing the individual inspection lots, results are recorded on-site and transferred back to the central SAP system.
During the introduction of the SAP PM maintenance solution at the Swiss standard gauge railroad company BLS Netz AG, the concept developed by SAP and DSAG was implemented for the first time. As well as SAP, BTC Business Technology Consulting AG and the Berlin consulting company Wessendorf Software + Consulting were involved in the implementation and execution of the solution, as a subcomponent of the "amiGO" project, for two years.
Solution in practice
Railroad switches are a good example of how the implemented solution is used in practice. More than 100 different switch types are in operation at BLS, which vary in terms of design, traction, closures and dimensions. In order to implement checklists, the required master data was first entered into the SAP system. Each switch type (e.g., single turnout, double-slip turnout, etc.) was clearly defined and combined with respective drive types (e.g., electric, manual). Information regarding maintenance objects was then merged with the maintenance activities listed in SAP, to generate a comprehensive maintenance plan. Individual inspection lots are generated from this information, which will be processed by employees. The checklists generated in SAP are then transmitted to the technicians’ mobile devices using the mobile solution from Wessendorf Software & Consulting.
Once the checklists have been called up, maintenance order inspection lots that have not yet been processed are directly displayed. The condition of individual elements can be evaluated based on the listed information. Both quantitative and qualitative inspection criteria can be edited and short comments added. For easier editing, every technicians’ mobile device is equipped with individual graphics and reference values for each switch. After the inspection is complete, the data is transferred to the SAP backend.
Due to the introduction of SAP, the procedural and organizational changes were enormous, both within the company and to the workflow of technicians. To ease the transition, employees were gradually introduced to the new solution. The new solution began to reveal tangible benefits early on. After all, maintaining data in a central system is considerably more efficient than managing it individually in a large number of different systems. The solutions underwent several intensive field tests before implementation. Even pre-existing solutions were retrospectively adjusted, if the practical test yielded different results.
A good example is the bridge inspection. Even in the smallest of spaces and under the most difficult circumstances, the condition and any defects must be recorded and simultaneously documented with a photo. In order to get clear and concise data, the mobile solution has been enhanced with a note function for unstructured pre-logging, which enables faster initial handling. The text can be properly assigned later via copy and paste. "Thanks to the early involvement of our employees and the accompanying change management, our checklist solution is a resounding success which has paid off for BLS Netz AG," says BLS solution architect Ingo Teschke. "After all, every business sector and employee benefits from more efficient and transparent planning and the mobile handling of maintenance processes."