Automation is the future, and there’s no better time to start than now. With the shortage of staffing exacerbated by the pandemic, the need to drive digitization efficiencies has become even more pressing.


But is it possible to successfully undergo mobile maintenance transformation even during these challenging times? Short answer: Yes!


In this article, you will learn how 3 companies from the food & beverage manufacturing industry succeeded in implementing their digital transformation projects.




Today’s Priorities for Food Manufacturers

Tale #1: Bottling Plants for a Brewery and Beverage Manufacturer

Tale #2: A Multinational Ingredient Provider

Tale #3: A Multinational Producer of Consumer Food Products

Why Work with Sigga



Where does Mobile Maintenance Transformation Fit in Today’s Priorities for Food Manufacturers


The COVID pandemic has wreaked havoc on several industries, the food manufacturing sector included. However, it is interesting to note that the 2021 Manufacturing Outlook Survey has found that food manufacturers are feeling slightly optimistic about the future. And as a result of the pandemic, their priorities have changed:

  1. Food safety
  2. Cost control
  3. Worker safety
  4. Changes due to COVID
  5. Automation
  6. Worker recruitment


Automation is a primary strategy to address all of the priorities above, but one of the biggest challenges with automation for food & beverage manufacturers is finding the technical workers needed to design, program, and operate the solutions.



When asked about the top strategies to deal with this issue, the top responses were:

  • Expanding in-house technical training (42%) 
  • Recruiting maintenance technicians (33%) 
  • Adding in-house engineering capabilities (31%) 


In terms of what was important to them when it came to digital technology, most of the companies answered:

  • Replacing paper records with electronic records (52%) 
  • Replacing analog devices with digital (38%) 
  • Providing more remote access to machine controls (35%) 


When asked about strategies to optimize asset use, the most popular responses were:

  • On-the-job training programs (53%)  
  • Assign routine maintenance duties to machine operators (47%) 
  • Hiring additional maintenance technicians (35%) 
  • Expanding third party personnel (30%) 
  • Condition monitoring tools/preventive maintenance (27%)

As you can see, maintenance operations are at the center of many current automation and resource strategies for food and beverage manufacturers. Let’s look at how several companies successfully addressed these challenges with automation and mobile maintenance transformation projects.



3 Success Cases of Mobile Maintenance Transformation of SAP PM


As a maintenance operations manager or plant manager, you are probably aware of the challenges and difficulties involved in implementing automation strategies in your plant. The good news is mobile maintenance transformation can be successfully implemented if you learn from other companies who have overcome the challenges and are thriving.



Success Story #1 - Bottling Plants for a Brewery and Beverage Manufacturer


Tale #1: Bottling Plants for a Brewery and Beverage Manufacturer


This beverage manufacturer is a subsidiary of the largest brewing conglomerate in the world, Anheuser-Busch ABInBev. The bottling plants use SAP Plant Maintenance (PM) to manage their maintenance operations. In 2009, they conducted an internal survey where they uncovered significant wastes in their processes which prompted their mobile maintenance transformation initiative.


Here are some of the issues they experienced:

  • Excessive time spent by planners to convert notifications into maintenance orders 
  • Poor data quality in SAP from insufficient computer access by the maintenance staff  
  • Incomplete maintenance history records 
  • A significant amount of time was spent printing maintenance orders and their respective procedures 
  • High cost of paper and printing 

In Search of a Solution


Initially, they decided to create their own mobile maintenance solution. Over time, this solution became unstable and inadequate to cover their needs. In 2015, they began to search for alternatives and looked at solving their challenges with another custom development project or ready-made solutions.


The maintenance department identified 26 different technical requirements based on their processes and prior experience with the failed in-house solution. They chose a ready-made mobile EAM solution that met 90% of their requirements including data transfer performance from high-speed data synchronization between the SAP EAM server and their team's mobile devices.


Due to the completeness of the solution and rapid acceptance by the users, the manufacturer quickly expanded the app to 4,000 users across all their sites in the country.



Results of the Mobile Maintenance Transformation

  • Removed repetitive paperwork. Employees no longer spent long hours printing and attaching execution procedures to orders. Instead, the technicians receive their work orders digitally and can consult the app at any time, online or offline.
  • Enhanced control on hours and materials. Supervisors now use an online system for approvals of the team's hours and materials requests.
  • 80% reduction of mean time to repair (MTTR). From 24 days to 5 days, which meant that equipment is back online faster, increasing plant productivity.
  • 15% increase in technician productivity. 

Success Case 2 - A Multinational Ingredient Provider


Tale #2: A Multinational Ingredient Provider


This company produces starch, starch sugars, modified starches and turns fruits, tapioca, corn, potatoes, and other vegetables into food, brewing, beverage, pharmaceutical, and industrial ingredients. The company uses SAP PM to manage their maintenance and reliability operations.


Problems Faced Before the Digital Transformation

  • Break-fix culture. The managers, supervisors, and technicians had a reactive mindset instead of a preventive one. It was so ingrained in the company culture to just repair equipment when it broke down that the concept of preventative maintenance had to be explained. 
  • Inaccurate and inconsistent data. Each plant had its own SAP system and followed a different data structure approach making it difficult to analyze breakdowns on common assets at different sites. Plus, the staff did not understand the significance of data capture and data reliability.  
  • Significant time wastes. The technicians had limited access to computers which caused notification delays and wasted time waiting to gain access to the computer. The scheduling process took days to complete and hours to modify each week to address the breakdowns and corrective requirements. 

In Search of a Solution


To solve the equipment reliability issues, the company determined they needed to identify the root cause of failures, create a common asset hierarchy, and start to plan preventive maintenance tasks. Most importantly, they needed to turn the reactive culture into a proactive one by developing a continuous improvement mindset among their technicians and engineers. In addition, they wanted to assure the plant managers that a preventive maintenance plan would result in more uptime and peace of mind.


The Director for Reliability and Continuous Improvement decided to start with a planning and scheduling solution to improve the interface with SAP and to establish data consistency and quality for analysis. His strategy was to quickly show the results of improving the planning of preventive work to evolve the break-fix culture. He then brought in a mobile solution for technicians to further the digital transformation of their maintenance processes.



Results of the Mobile Maintenance Transformation

  • Saved time for the technicians. The company technicians no longer lined up at one computer to file a notification. With the mobile solution, they could simply take a photo of the equipment to report it. They could also record an audio note to discuss the problem. Using Wi-Fi or a network, they could connect to SAP, and the planner could receive the information and deal with it immediately.  
  • Efficient encoding of work order results to SAP. The mobile app improved technician performance because they were able to maintain equipment instead of writing tags which saved them 30 minutes a day on average. The app provided a structured way to capture data improving information for analyzing asset reliability issues.  
  • Scheduling went from 1-2 days to 2 hours. The solution allowed the maintenance team to be more flexible and efficient. Previously, planners had to come in on a Saturday to create the weekly maintenance schedule. And when production schedules would change, the planner had to work another 6 to 8 hours to redo it every week. The planning and scheduling solution allowed the planner to responsively make revisions and reassign technicians within minutes to handle an urgent need.   
  • More time spent reviewing ways to improve maintenance. The maintenance staff could now spend their time on building proactive maintenance plans, evaluating different spare parts to extend the lifecycle of the assets, driving improvements, and pursuing cost reductions. 
  • Other key results. Saved on printing and paper costs and reduced machinery breakdowns due to the increase in preventive maintenance. With continuous effort, they shifted the reactive culture to go from 80% reactive maintenance towards the target of 80% planned. 


Success case 3 - Food & Beverage


Tale #3: A Multinational Producer of Consumer Food Products


This multinational corporation is a major producer of consumer food goods from dairy products to bottling specialty waters. They use SAP ERP and the standard SAP PM module for industrial maintenance. The staff considered the interface to SAP PM to be obsolete and use was limited to a few specialists which impacted full utilization of the software. The staff pulled the work orders from SAP into spreadsheets to organize maintenance schedules and then printed the work orders for the maintenance technicians. The maintenance technicians had to start their day by picking up the paperwork orders and instructions at a central office, then proceed to the plant. SAP was then updated manually after the fact creating data lags and data quality issues.


They determined they needed to keep data digital for scheduling and conducting maintenance tasks in order to improve the efficiency of their processes and the data quality in SAP.



In Search of a Solution


The company embarked on a search for a scheduling automation solution and a mobile maintenance solution for SAP PM. Their goal was to find the right vendor who could offer both solutions and was a total match on security, IT architecture, end-user adoption experience, and business process. Additional criteria included:

  • User-friendly interface 
  • Online and offline functionality for mobile experiences 
  • Cost 
  • Ability to deliver in multiple languages for global use 
  • SAP Partner 

Results of the Mobile Maintenance Transformation


The company selected a vendor that could provide out-of-the-box solutions for both mobile experiences for the technicians and automation for the planning and scheduling processes. The first plant was implemented in late 2020 and immediately discovered the benefits of a fully digital process. The improved interface to SAP was a delight for the planning and scheduling staff. The new paperless maintenance process resulted in paper savings and immediate data visibility in SAP. The initial results have prompted the roll-out to 6 additional plants in 5 countries.



Why Work with Sigga


What does a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, a multinational ingredient provider, and an international producer of dairy products all have in common? These global, multinational food and beverage companies have all successfully implemented their mobile maintenance and planning and scheduling transformations with Sigga. If any of their maintenance challenges ring true for you, contact us to see how we can help you achieve similar results.


Sigga is a global software company with 20 years of experience assisting asset-intensive corporations through their digital transformation projects in maintenance operations. We understand the unique challenges in maintenance for food & beverage production plants using SAP. That’s why these three food & beverage corporations and many more trust Sigga to help them achieve their efficiency goals.


Sigga’s Mobile EAM helps digitize SAP plant maintenance tasks and allows organizations to eliminate repetitive manual paper-based processes and increase maintenance productivity.


Sigga’s Planning and Scheduling solution helps organizations to automate their SAP plant maintenance planning processes. They can automatically check capacities, assign resources, prioritize work orders, track order status, and make informed decisions based on real-time data in SAP.



Why Sigga

Read more about Sigga and how we can help you advance your SAP Plant Maintenance Program