4 Must Haves for your SAP Plant Maintenance Goals

Over the years, I’ve encountered more than a few maintenance managers who proudly claim that they have no maintenance backlog. This statement always shocks me and I know with almost certainty that if we walked the plant, we would find something that is nearing failure or has the potential to stop production in the near-term. An accurate, managed maintenance backlog within SAP is critical to an organization seeking to improve efficiency. A key step to this is reviewing and setting up maintenance processes in SAP to align with your organization’s goals.

The Background:

The importance of a properly managed backlog and kitted orders can be seen in a scenario I once encountered at a bottler in the upper Midwest. On a given Thursday afternoon they had 52 corrective work orders kitted and ready to execute. The expectation was that these orders are slipped into your weekly schedule around preventive maintenance. A quick glance at the kitted shelves or searching kitted work orders within SAP, one would think there was a more than adequate executable backlog.

The Opportunity:

Around 2 am on Friday they began to have supply water issues. At 5 am, after a few hours of intermittent water and a call with the city, the plant manager made the call to stop production. The maintenance team held a quick planning meeting and began working the kitted orders right away.

The Outcome:

By late Saturday morning there were three kits on the return shelf that had been attempted and found not to contain the correct items to complete the job. Forty-nine jobs of ranging complexity had been completed in just 30 hours by the regularly scheduled maintenance crews. It is surprising how effective maintenance teams can be when planning and kitting processes are utilized within SAP.

In our after-action meetings, the maintenance team was praised and felt proud of their work. They realized their kitted shelf needed to contain perhaps twice as many kitted work orders as they had previously anticipated. They performed like rock stars and came away from the emergency shutdown feeling encouraged. This real scenario led the team to focus more effort on planning and kitting to ensure even more could be done during the next unplanned opportunity.

Key Takeaways:

Far too often, maintenance teams are unable to execute critical work during scheduled production downtime, much less an unscheduled opportunity. Every piece of equipment on the floor is on the path to failure.

As maintenance leaders, it is our job to ensure that your people, processes, and SAP are properly positioned for success. Here are a few areas where our team can support you:

  • Planned Maintenance Processes – Help break the fire-fighting cycle with stringent requirements for conversion to a work order, skilled planning, a reliable procurement team, and storeroom operations. Make clear to everyone the steps and the roles associated with each phase of the process. Improve reporting and visibility by understanding and utilizing the statuses made available by SAP.
  • Disciplined Work Execution – When reactive is the normal state, it is common to have a backlog of orders that are no longer valid, as well as executed work that did not make its way into SAP. Generate buy-in by educating your team as to why following these processes will improve the way they work. Provide consistent and measured metrics for execution.
  • Bill of Materials – Technicians and parts room personnel can quickly reference the BOM for accurate and timely identification of parts for work order execution. Streamline MRO procurement, validate inventory settings, and manage obsolescence.
  • Skilled Planning – The title of planner is often given to those who are good in SAP, not based on their skill set or knowledge of the equipment that is to be repaired. It is possible to teach SAP to a skilled technician, it is not possible to teach years of expertise and experience to a person who is good with a computer.


The first step to more efficient and effective maintenance is assessing your current state, followed by developing and/or refining standardized processes across the maintenance organization and ensuring that your master data is useable and in line with your goals. There are reactive organizations who relish those brief moments when everything is running and there are organizations with an approach based on metrics and milestones. How does your organization measure up?

Our Plant Maintenance Continuous Improvement Program ensures that SAP is configured to support your processes. We educate your maintenance team so they can become more efficient and understand the reasons and importance behind your processes. Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can help guide your maintenance organization.

Author Bio: Leon Skrivanek has just shy of 30 years in Maintenance and Reliability (20 years in SAP) as a technician, super-user, administrator, manager, and consultant. Following a five-year enlistment in the US Marines, Leon began working as a Mech-Elec at a ribbon glass manufacturer. Leon also has experience with organizations ranging from small family businesses to ExxonMobil and The Coca-Cola Company. He is the guy you call once the big implementers have left you with a new system and a lot of documentation.

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