Smart plant maintenance is a product of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0). It offers organizations a previously unimaginable level of connectivity, optimization, and decision-making in their plant maintenance processes. The Fifth Industrial Revolution (Industry 5.0) will take these capabilities a step further by improving the collaboration between humans and machines, allowing humans to work smarter and more efficiently.


In this article we will explore smart plant maintenance in more detail and discuss some key points that you will need to consider as your organization prepares for the transition.



SAP Plant Maintenance in the Era of Industry 4.0 and 5.0


For some, the terms Artificial Intelligence (AI) or the Internet of Things (IoT) may seem that they belong in a distant future and that they are about intangible concepts that are far from our reality. The truth is that the Internet of Things is already part of our lives. Sometimes quite obviously, but other times more subtly.


You’ve probably noticed that content channels, like YouTube and Netflix, for example, seem to make video suggestions based on what you’ve watched before. How do they do that? They do it using artificial intelligence.


It’s also probable that you know someone - or maybe even yourself - who bought an Amazon Echo that comes with Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant. Even more so, your phone has either Siri (Apple iOS) or Google (Android). These are examples of already existing AI and technology that we use to interact with the internet of things.


Virtual assistants, speech recognition apps and transcription, deep learning platforms, and biometrics are examples of AI that help organizations in decision-making. Artificial intelligence is everywhere.


However, we’re still taking the first steps towards adopting technologies that help us take a strategic approach to overcoming the day-to-day challenges we face in enterprise and industrial asset management.



Smart Plants: the Future is Here


The concept of Smart Plants emerged from the 4th Industrial Revolution - Industry 4.0 is still seen as something far from reality. Yet Industry 4.0 is well underway, and we stand at the precipice of Industry 5.0. Industry 5.0 will take Industry 4.0 technologies a step further by improving collaboration between humans and machines – allowing humans to work smarter and more efficiently.


The rapid advancement and adoption of technologies such as AI, Enterprise Asset Management Software (EAM), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – has made Smart Plants a reality. With IIOT, we can reduce costs, increase security (without sacrificing productivity), monitor assets in real-time, optimize plant maintenance workflows, and dramatically reduce downtime.


In short, Smart Plants are the future of plant maintenance and of Enterprise Asset Management.


It is normal to think that IIoT and AI solutions belong to the future, that you don't have to think about it now; after all, it might not even fit your budget, right?


It might be time to review your concepts about industrial maintenance and the technology that supports it.


The Global Interconnection Index estimates that investments in Cloud (cloud storage), Machine Learning, and IOT are expected to increase by more than 70% in the coming years, and this only in companies in the electricity sector.


This type of investment, and the consequent technological advancement, has become a trend in many other industries. It’s therefore essential for you to think about your current Enterprise Asset Management strategy and how AI and IOT-friendly solutions may help you replace your existing but outdated technologies.


These solutions can help you to transform your plant maintenance processes. For instance, you can avoid process failures or interruptions and long shutdowns for repairs. You can deliver regular reports on the operational conditions of your most important production assets.


Do you now realize how beneficial AI and IIOT can be for your business?


By now, you may be thinking about how to implement Smart Plants and Smart Plant Maintenance concepts to your Enterprise Asset Management process.



How to Develop a Smart Plant?


A Smart Plant is not implemented overnight. It is necessary to divide this process into stages, preferably aiming to meet short, medium, and long-term goals.


Each plant and project have their own particularities and complexities. Therefore, we’ll discuss in detail the basics for a successful foundation.


There are four main key areas that you’ll need to address:

  • Data Integrity
  • Eliminating Paper
  • Reliable Reporting
  • Accurate Decision-Making



Data Integrity



Late or expired maintenance orders. Codes entered incorrectly. Poorly configured SAP Plant Maintenance. Do any of these problems sound familiar?


These issues are common causes of more serious problems such as idle labor and equipment downtime, just to name a few. These problems can be corrected by ensuring data integrity in SAP, meaning that there is real-time access to end-to-end correct and reliable data.



Eliminating Paper


This is one of the most important steps for implementing Smart Plants.


Data needs to be passed quickly from the physical to the digital environment. It is increasingly important that incidents or events of any nature are reported in real time.


In some plants, it is possible that information that was relevant this morning is no longer relevant this afternoon. Therefore, agility is essential for this process. There are mobile SAP EAM solutions on the market that not only eliminate paper, but also allow data recording with greater speed and reliability.



Reliable Reporting


Asset management, strategy planning and execution depends on reports with correct and reliable information. Not only for day-to-day planning, but for management reporting including compliance with relevant rules, requirements, regulations, and standards such as ISO 5500x.



Accurate Decision-Making


Information is crucial to any maintenance manager's decision-making process. Your Enterprise Asset Management Software allows you to transform data into information. But to use your data effectively and make informed decisions, you need complete and accurate data inside of SAP EAM.


Every day, planners deal with high volumes of complex information. Some of their daily responsibilities include:

  • Allocating labor resources
  • Monitoring parts availability
  • Scheduling routes
  • Monitoring certificates and qualifications
  • Maintaining Health, Safety, Environment and Quality (HSEQ)

It’s possible to help planners execute their routines by using AI and IIOT technologies with solutions capable of handling, cross-referencing, and analyzing large amounts of data and information.


In the end, these solutions will help Smart Plant Maintenance planners focus on better decision-making and replace mundane routine tasks.



Paradigm Shift


In addition to all we’ve mentioned above, developing Smart Plants and a Smart Plant Maintenance process also depends on a profound paradigm shift. End-to-end adoption of new technologies depends on cultural and work process changes for the whole organization. It’s normal to be skeptical or feel that you are not fully prepared for such changes.


The place to start is to replace paper-based processes with digital solutions and add automation to menial tasks. Everyone will embrace new technologies if they personally experience the benefit. From there, it will become easier to add more AI and IIOT technologies to take advantage of the Industry 4.0 and 5.0 innovations.


Learn more about this topic, with our whitepaper: The Perfect Plant – The Future of SAP Plant Maintenance in the Paradigm of Industry 4.0 and 5.0





How Sigga Can Help


At Sigga, we’re here to help you, offering software solutions to augment SAP PM. Our solutions provide a solid foundation and improve data integrity, replace paper-based processes with mobile devices, support reporting processes, and improve data quality for accurate decision-making.


We have two decades of experience in SAP integration, Enterprise Asset Management, and industrial maintenance solutions. We can efficiently guide you and your company through the process to take advantage of Industry 4.0 and 5.0 technologies.


Partner with a company trusted by global industry giants such as ABInbev, Bunge, Danone, Petrobras, and Saint-Gobain.


To enable your company’s digital transformation, learn more about Sigga’s Solutions portfolio.


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