Take the First Steps to Automate Routines in Maintenance


You know what you need to do: leverage automation technologies to gain more efficiency in your maintenance and repair processes. But, where to begin? You can’t tolerate downtime and disruption to your operations. To be successful, you need to start small, focus on a few clear KPIs, and then build on your successes.


Many organizations, especially since the pandemic hit, spend much of the day just treading water. Their maintenance and repair processes control them rather than vice versa. Data overload, errors, asset break downs, and manual processes are time consuming, inefficient, frustrating, and expensive.


Your SAP PM solution is your life blood, but it is challenging to maintain. Putting data in and pulling it out is tedious. Using SAP data leads to repetitive manual processes to download information, plan and create maintenance schedules, and then print and distribute work orders. When the work is complete, the work order status is manually inputted back into the systems. The data delays, duplicate records, open text notes all lead to BAD DATA.


What you need is automation to replace the manual, repetitive steps, and structure data capture to turn your maintenance processes from slow and error-prone to efficient and proactive.



Where to Begin?


Given the high stakes, you need to start with a quick win. Our recommendation is to add automation to your planning & scheduling processes. It will be a transformational project that directly impacts fewer employees while setting up the organization for further automation. By taking this step, you can avoid disruption to critical production systems.


A maintenance planning and scheduling solution empowers your organization in some very tangible ways. Your employees become more productive. No more tedious data manipulation. You automate routine steps in the process, so planners spend more time analyzing information and less time pushing paper. They fine-tune schedules and maximize use of your physical and personnel assets. If an urgent opportunity or unforeseen problem arises, they can quickly make a change, and therefore disruptions to operations are minimized.


Their analysis becomes deeper. They improve schedule quality and actionability by organizing multiple data sources into a single system. An intuitive User Interface walks them through the creation of a baseline schedule. Since the process takes less time, planners can focus on their value-added and ad hoc inputs.



Upgrade from Manipulating Spreadsheets


With the new solution, digital information is available in real time with a quick swipe on the screen rather than sifting through spreadsheets that limit data visibility and drain productivity. An add-on scheduling solution to SAP PM builds your work schedules for you based on business rules to prioritize work, assign resources, and check parts inventory to ensure work orders can be scheduled.


The results will reduce the backlog, maximize your resources while minimizing risk to plant operations.


Are you concerned about “bad data in will equal bad data out”? You are not alone. This is a common issue that holds organizations back from pursuing automation. The reality is that adding a planning and scheduling solution can fix many of your data quality issues.

  • Errors in Backlog Data A good planning solution will flag incomplete, duplicate, or stale work orders allowing you to fix these issues before automatically creating the schedule. This will also highlight repeated gaps to the departments entering the work orders.
  • Most of the Backlog is Unplanned An initial investment to add rough estimates to flagged work orders will clean up this problem overtime.
  • No Technician Availability Data A good planning solution will encompass both SAP HR data on availability, but also capture absences and other time slots to not schedule.
  • No Technician Skills Data A good planning solution will encompass data on crafts person certifications and skills in order to automatically recommend the right person for the right piece of equipment.

Beyond the planner/scheduler’s role, an automation solution will improve coordination between departments. Better schedules and crafts person utilization and better data visibility and accuracy in SAP lead to better coordination opportunities. And these results will come about naturally with minimal change management impacts to adjacent departments.



Automation Delivers Results


According to Doc Palmer, the author of McGraw-Hill’s Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Handbook, the benefit of good planning and scheduling can result in:

  • 57% Improvement in Wrench Time
  • Up to 90% Schedule Compliance

Palmer cautions to look at more than the numbers since they can be manipulated by non-productive behaviors. He quotes Parkinson’s Law as an example: “The amount of work assigned will expand to fill the time available.” (Cyril Parkinson, “The Economist,” Nov. 19, 1955.)


Automation can help overcome the measurement challenges by bringing more data and more objective rigor to the planning process. At minimum, think of the productivity of your planning staff if they can produce the initial week’s schedule in 30 minutes vs. 4 hours.



Build on Your Success


A quick and relatively painless resource scheduling win will pave the way for more improvements. A victory and its KPIs transform the theoretical into the tangible and proven. Convincing management of the potential benefits of further automation becomes simpler because the numbers back up your claims.


Now, you need to extend automated work order scheduling into other areas. As data quality and system reliability improve, your next logical step is to replace paper-based work orders for your crafts people with a mobile EAM solution. A scheduling solution can automatically send the work orders to the crafts and scheduling can be further improved with real-time data captured by them such as an immediate notification of an urgent issue.


Through the process of implementation, you will have worked through the initial learning curves of working with a new vendor. You will also have uncovered and engaged all the key stakeholders for implementation success. Extending automation to adjacent areas with a known vendor at this point will be faster and easier with less potential downtime risks.



You Can Do It


Adding a new solution is often an intimidating process, but you can inspire the organization if you start with a solution that challenges a few people to go through the change, but in turn has broad, visible, positive impacts. In this way, you set the course towards automation for more prescriptive and predictive maintenance. You control the maintenance and repair process and can vastly improve your operational efficiencies.



Find the Right Solution


To be successful, you need the right Planning & Scheduling solution from a vendor who can best support your organization through the changes. Sigga has 20 years of experience with SAP PM and maintenance workflows plus a history of successful deployments across a wide range of industries. The Sigga Planning & Scheduling solution is the most complete and flexible solution for SAP PM. You need a solution that can meet your unique needs. Sigga’s solution is designed to automate both typical SAP PM data, plus your own added custom rules and data tables. The advanced scheduling algorithm will enable you to automate more of your routine processes to save you more time for a bigger efficiency impact.


Sigga also has an integrated Mobile EAM solution to seamlessly take the next step in automation beyond planning and scheduling. In addition, consider Sigga’s Warehouse and Inventory solution for mobilizing warehouse processes.


Find Out How


Enable your company's digital transformation. Learn more about Sigga's Solutions