SAP Plant Maintenance – Overview

SAP Plant Maintenance

SAP Plant Maintenance : Introduction

Maintenance has become a key element in a world where the competitiveness of companies is omnipresent and where pure productivity is no longer enough. It encompasses a wide variety of functions and varies greatly depending on the industry. To be effective, the maintenance department must rely on management software to manage a large amount of data and interactions between departments, as well as with the outside world. SAP has adapted its SAP Plant Maintenance module to meet this new vision of maintenance in connected industries. This article examines the strengths and limitations of SAP Plant Maintenance to effectively manage the core business. Discover how it works through our presentation of SAP Plant Maintenance - Overview.

SAP Plant Maintenance: Structure and Technical Objects

Firstly, even if maintenance is based on defined processes such as reliability or maintainability, we need to map these processes to a defined structure and the technical objects associated with it.

Note that each company, each entity has its own vision, depending on its leader but also depending on its own context. This is why the SAP plant Maintenance module proposes a multitude of technical objects allowing to adapt to each request, in the smallest details.

Description of the main technical objects

Functional Location

Globally, it represents a complex structure, usually on several levels and vertically. Also, it is used to represent Halls, sections, buildings or processes. Therefore, the equipment will be installed on a Functional Location, allowing to create the tree structure of the plant.


It generally represents an individual mobile element. Thus, it can be assimilated to a machine, a means of production such as a pump, a tool or even a robot. Moreover, a piece of equipment will be created when it is necessary to have a history of breakdowns, store information, create notifications or orders, carry out maintenance plans, etc. It will also be possible to manage sub-equipment, which will be attached to the "superior" parent equipment.

Description of technical objects related to a material

PM Assembly

In contrast to an equipment or a functional location, a PM Assembly, which is similar to an item/material, does not describe a single thing but similar elements. Therefore, it usually represents spare parts, assemblies, raw materials, ...
Then, it will be important to define exactly what the PM Assembly should represent in order to define its creation (serialization, material type, ...).

Bill of Material (BOM)

The BOM is a complete and structured set of the components of an equipment or assembly. It also includes the material numbers of each component individually, as well as their quantity and unit of measure. In other words, they can be stored in a central warehouse, or not stored. For assemblies, the BOM is often used to describe them in more detail, so that multi-level structures can be created.

Description of secondary technical objects

Link / Object network

Unlike a Functional Location, which allows to represent a vertical hierarchy, a link allows to establish a horizontal network between several technical objects. To date, a link can be established between 2 pieces of equipment or between 2 Functional Locations. It should be noted that its role is purely informative, but it can nevertheless be used to refine the information when necessary. Take for example the establishment of an electrical network in a factory.


Indeed, classification is used to describe a group of similar objects based on characteristics they have in common. Thus, it is possible to create classes for grinding machines that would have in common characteristics such as speed of rotation, ... or even classes of furnaces, with characteristics of pressure or temperature.

Special functions attached to technical objects

Note that to go even deeper and allow each user of SAP Plant Maintenance to continuously improve its operation, it is possible to use the following elements :

Thus, it can be used to document a technical object throughout its life, based on the evolution of the counter. Furthermore, it can be used for all maintenance based on the conditions or performance of an equipment, based on temperatures, pressures, ...

In order to link industrial drawings, work or safety instructions, check lists, pictures, ...

A warranty is a commitment made by a manufacturer, vendor or salesperson to a customer. In this way, proper operation is guaranteed for a given period of time, without the customer being charged in the event of failure. It is for this reason that we refer to this warranty for any technical object. In fact, it can apply to warranties on your purchases, as well as to warranties you may have on your own customers.

In specific cases, certain regulations or conditions must be taken into account when carrying out maintenance work. These can be defined by means of permits. In order to issue fire permits for example, licenses issued for welding or in order to consign / deconsign an installation, ...

The business process: SAP Plant Maintenance

Indeed, this part represents the heart of maintenance. The team will map all business processes to those proposed by SAP Plant Maintenance.

Since each company has its own workflows, SAP once again offers various ways to allow everyone to adapt and thus drastically increase performance.

  • Planned repair
  • The immediate repair
  • Shift notes and shift reports
  • The outsourcing process
  • Repairable processes
  • The subcontracting
  • Preventive maintenance
  • Maintenance - Project

Let's see, right now, some of these accessible processes :

Planned / unplanned repair

Planned and unplanned repair are quite similar. In fact, they occur as a result of an unexpected event.

In reality, the main difference lies in the fact that planned maintenance enables resources to be allocated and intervention to be scheduled over time, but could not be anticipated before the event.

Whereas unplanned maintenance, on the other hand, often refers to a state of emergency, where quick action is required. Thus, it does not involve steps 2 and 3 below, at least the planning part.


Notification is used for several reasons :

  • First, to describe a technical emergency associated with an object
  • Also to request a specific maintenance task
  • Finally, to document the work done

Note that this task is essentially assigned to production, allowing maintenance to be called in when necessary.


In this step, the maintenance order is created and planned from the notification. Thus, typical planning tasks are :

  • Creation of maintenance operations
  • Reservation of spare parts
  • The designation of external companies
  • Cost allocation rules

In step 3, the analysis goes to the management control. Indeed, it verifies the availability of each part, allowing to realize the intervention in the defined time :

  • Material availability
  • Availability of external companies
  • Availability of internal technicians
  • The availability of technical equipment (production, ...)

Also, it is at this stage that the various documents will be printed.


After that, the required work will be done. Consequently, the various operations will be carried out and the parts consumed as they progress.


After completing the job, it will then be necessary to consume the last parts used, encode its intervention hours and create a report detailing how the damage was treated.

Finally, there will be a technical confirmation, ensuring that all the previous tasks have been carried out correctly, and then a last step assigned to management control, allowing the maintenance order to be allocated.

External intervention

Externalizing maintenance is extremely important these days for several reasons:

  • To begin with, a lack of qualification for certain interventions, at risk or particularly technical and specialized.
  • Second, a lack of capacity, during particular periods or following a series of unforeseen events, or during excessive absences and illness
  • Finally, to have flexibility of engagement, since is called only when the need is real and only during that time

Preventive maintenance

Nowadays, a preventive maintenance strategy is a must in any maintenance department. Although the trend is towards predictive maintenance, we still use most processes, even the most basic ones.

This is why SAP provides a set of tools, allowing to adapt to each level of company, to its progress and its ambitions.

As a result, with regard to the maintenance processes in SAP Plant Maintenance, we find :


This process is characterized by the fact that the interventions are spaced in time, and triggered according to a precise and predefined gap.
We speak then of intervention to be carried out every 6 months, every year, ... based on a company calendar.


This process, in turn, is not based on well-defined time periods but on counters, predefined characteristics. So that one could, for example, intervene when the machine has reached 2,000 hours of operation.


The latter process is based on measurement points. These measurement points can be very varied and several can be used for the same technical object. Therefore, one can look at temperature, pressure or even viscosity to trigger a preventive maintenance.

SAP Plant Maintenance: Integration with other modules

SAP's greatest strength lies in the seamless integration between its different modules. Unlike a traditional CMMS that a maintenance department could use and that would probably offer as many functionalities as SAP, its integration with other departments makes it an undeniable leader.

Moreover, the SAP Plant Maintenance module works closely with many other departments within the company. This is why it is necessary to establish a permanent exchange of information between them:

Material Management
Material Management

To begin with, this integration allows you to perform several actions :

  • Above all, to reserve spare and wear parts
  • As well as ordering non-stock material
  • As well as Externalize.
  • Also to check the availability
  • In addition, to analyze the current costs from external services and parts consumption
  • Finally, to carry out the reception of materials and invoicing
Production planning
Production planning

In reality, we mainly use this link to plan maintenance orders and display them on the Production Planning Board. It is therefore possible to "reserve" machine capacity when it is necessary to intervene by stopping the installation. This means better planning and more realistic lead times for the customer.

In addition, it is also possible to create your own spare parts using production orders via this integration.

Quality Management
Quality Management

Here it is possible to :

  • Create measurement points to perform preventive maintenance plans
  • In the same way, using inspection lots, leading, depending on the results obtained, to various decisions
  • Also, manage the test and measurement equipment used in the QM module

There is no doubt that this module is closely linked to maintenance. In fact, we can integrate :

  • Already the use of hazardous substances
  • The design of a healthy workspace
  • The most important aspect of security, in establishing plans
  • But also waste management

This integration is also one of the most important. It is undeniable that analyzing expenses, with a view to permanently reducing costs, is becoming essential :

  • Consumption of spare and wearing parts
  • Purchase of non-stock parts
  • Process outsourcing
  • Management of repairables

Here, this link will primarily define how maintenance orders allocate their costs (allocation rule) and allow for more precise analyses of the various maintenance activities.

Therefore, the most important elements are :

  • Cost Element
  • Cost Center
  • Activity Type
  • Costing

Indeed, linking the HR module offers the possibility to manage the following elements :

  • Personnel (recruitment, remuneration, ...)
  • Payroll, overtime, ...
  • Time (clocking)

SAP Plant Maintenance: Going Further.

Indeed, modern communication technologies such as the Internet or mobile solutions have now imposed themselves in companies. Especially in the era of Enterprise 4.0, many projects are born, and these technologies, somewhat ignored in the past, are gradually taking a predominant place.

In truth, we will not detail this part which could be the subject of other articles. However, we would like to show you its existence :

  • First, electronic parts catalogs, directly linked to the supplier
  • Also, SAP Fiori, allowing to use the SAP interface, with a neat design, through various media such as mobile (smartphones, tablets), ...
  • As well as mobile maintenance to perform various tasks, take pictures, ...
  • Also, the use of RFID to identify objects

SAP Plant Maintenance : Conclusion

After reading this article, you will see that companies really appreciate the maintenance module. Moreover, its impact and importance increases over the years.

Based on this fact, SAP has been able to adapt to the technological evolution and can now offer a whole range of indispensable tools to assist a maintenance department that seeks performance.

So, we have swept together what SAP has to offer you. Mention that the implementation of all these tools remains complex. Nevertheless, if you liked this introduction, you are curious and you want to go further, I refer you to our training dedicated entirely to this module that is SAP Plant Maintenance.

  • First of all, whether you are already a PM consultant, or a consultant of a closely related module such as MM - PP, QM or EHS, this training will be of great use to you, both from an end-user and a customization point of view.
  • Secondly, if you are a maintenance manager, whether you work for the Methods department, a project manager or a plant manager.
  • Thirdly, those who wish to understand in depth the functionalities that are already implemented in their company, or the functionalities that they should consider for the future, as the software offers so many possibilities, will find what they need.
  • Fourth, if you decide to change careers in maintenance or IT and more specifically in SAP

Would you like unlimited access to our entire SAP training library? Test our training platform free of charge for a 7-day trial period.

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