The Essential Secret to Maintaining Plant Materials – Perfecting SAP Master Data

By Sigrid Kok on May 13, 2014

Have you ever had a major appliance in your home stop working? A close friend of mine recently had this happen with her fridge, and she called a local, experienced repairman to check it out.  The repairman found the issue, but after many attempts to order and install a replacement part, he couldn’t find the right part to complete the repair – even though he called the manufacturer each time.

After yet another call to the manufacturer and insisting on speaking to an expert, the repairman found out that the required part was discontinued, and the manufacturer ended up sending another part. Finally a custom sixth part, which was custom installed, got her fridge running.   During this three-week period, my friend was without a working refrigerator, which resulted in spoiled food and a high level of inconvenience.  For the manufacturer, six parts been processed and mailed, five of which had to be written off.  For the repairman, it meant wasted hours, most of which were not billable.

In the SAP world, these processes fall into Plant Maintenance (PM) and Repair and Operations (MRO).  Master data associated with these maintenance/repair processes include:

  • Technical objects like equipment and functional locations
  • Materials with specific types, often with Class Characteristics, used in the production  process or in the maintenance of the facility
  • Maintenance Plans & Task lists
  • Bills of Materials

Just as with my friend’s refrigerator, when something requires periodic maintenance or repairs it can be a long process to locate a solution. There’s no way around needing to find a repair expert and the correct resources to get the job done.  If you looked into your SAP system, would you be able to answer these questions? iot

  • Could you identify the right part with accurate specifications that are not yet obsolete?
  • Would you know which manufacturer to contact?
  • Would you know the part number?
  • What if the part is custom and you have to wait for it to be ordered, made and shipped?

More often than not, the characteristics for the PM and MRO master data are neither complete nor up-to-date in SAP systems.  Often the data is from an external source, whether a manufacturer or an external system, thus making it more difficult and time consuming to maintain this information.

Information in the material master–such as class characteristics, or data related to location, equipment or characteristics of inventory on hand-needs to be updated.  The consequences of not being able to locate the correct resources include: A/C may go out, delivery trucks may be unable to make their routes, your production team cannot meet order obligations, or worse, your plant may stop production altogether.  These issues can cost you a lot more than a refrigerator full of spoiled food.

Without proper organization and documentation of purchased inventory employees aren’t able to locate or use them. This reduces inventory turnover because parts become obsolete and/or companies purchase additional parts they didn’t actually need.

PMIndustriesWS-300x227Winshuttle customers can keep their PM/MRO master data up to date with complete and correct information–without a lot of time-consuming manual data entry or writing/maintaining complex programs.  Companies realize value by not only creating but also updating the data which keeps them up and running. In addition they also ensure that their employees can find and use the right parts, to increase turnover with their valuable inventory, saving untold amounts of time and money.

For more information, please see our Plant Maintenance section on our website.

About the author

Sigrid Kok

Sigrid Kok is a Principal Solutions Engineer at Winshuttle, residing in the San Francisco By Area. Prior she has worked for companies like SAP and IBM in their SAP practice. She has been in technical sales for over 20 years, and also has experience in product management and IT.

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