Book Review

SAP R/3 Plant Maintenance
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SAP R/3 Plant Maintenance

By: Britta Stengl, Reinhard Ematinger

Hardcover - 368 pages
Published by: Addison Wesley Professional
1st edition
Publication Date: May 18, 2001
Dimensions (in inches): 0.95 x 9.48 x 7.56
ISBN: 0201675323


  1. Introduction
  2. Classifying Plant Maintenance from a Business Perspective
  3. Getting Started with Release 4.6
  4. Objects in R/3 PM
  5. Business Process: Breakdown Maintenance and Corrective Maintenance
  6. Business Process: Planned Maintenance
  7. Special Cases
  8. Integrative Aspects
  9. Interfaces to Non-SAP Systems

Our Review

SAP's Plant Maintenance module (SAP-PM) is being used more and more by large organizations in capital-intensive industries. It is recognised that implementing SAP-PM is a large and complex task. With this in mind, Britta Stengl and Reinhard Ematinger, both certified SAP consultants working for SAP AG at its headquarters in Germany, have written this book. It is, according to the authors, intended to be an introduction to SAP-PM, and is aimed at project teams and consultants involved in implementing SAP-PM.

No doubt, given the popularity of SAP, and its complexity, there is a market for a good book on SAP-PM. However, this is not a good book. Unfortunately, it completely misses its intended audience - consultants wishing to learn more about SAP-PM would be better advised to save their money, and attend a course on SAP-PM, and SAP users will find little in this book that will be useful to them.

The Introductory chapter introduces the structure of the book.

The second chapter "Classifying Plant Maintenance from a Business Perspective" attempts to put SAP into a broader context, and outlines a few key Maintenance Management principles. Unfortunately, all this chapter does is cast doubt on the authors' credentials to speak authoritatively on matters relating to Maintenance and Reliability - the principles outlined are covered superficially, and there is no reference to using information stored within information systems to identify and analyse recurring or significant failures - surely one of the most important uses of any CMMS. The chapter also refers extensively to the German standard DIN 31051, not used, to my knowledge, anywhere outside Germany, and which, on the basis of the information presented in this chapter, has some peculiar idiosyncracies which vary from common practice elsewhere in the world. The chapter introduces terminology which may be new to many people (such as the term "malfunction" meaning either a functional failure, or an incipient failure) and which, again, is not in common usage (at least outside Germany). It also has a non-standard definition for Condition-Based Maintenance (it calls replacement of a pump impeller at a predefined number of pump operating hours "Condition-Based Maintenance" for example, where most people using Reliability Centered Maintenance principles would consider this to be Preventive or "Hard Time" maintenance). In addition, it frequently uses the abbreviation "PM" to mean "Plant Maintenance" or just "maintenance", where more common understanding of this term is to refer to the series of routinely scheduled tasks that go to make up a Predictive/Preventive/Detective Maintenance program. All of this confusion over terminology simply makes the book harder to understand, and potentially confusing for experienced Maintenance personnel.

The third chapter, covers some basics relating to how to start up SAP R/3 PM, and the various means of obtaining technical support.

The fourth chapter "Objects in R/3 PM", attempts to draw the distinction between Functional Locations, Equipment, PM Assemblies, and Materials in SAP P/M. The distinctions here (particularly between Functional Locations and Equipment) are critical to ensuring that meaningful data can be obtained from SAP-PM. Similarly, if the Functional Location/Equipment hierarchy is not set up appropriately, there can be similar, potentially disastrous effects on obtaining meaningful reports and information from the system. Some organisations have had to completely reimplement their Technical Object Structure (TOS) within SAP after implementation, because they made some disastrous (but not obvious at the time) decisions relating to their TOS. This book completely fails to highlight the importance of getting the TOS right - and which are the critical aspects to consider in making decisions relating to the TOS.

The fifth chapter, "Business Process: Breakdown Maintenance and Corrective Maintenance", covers the use of SAP-PM to manage breakdown and corrective maintenance. The book runs into trouble here again - first, because this process is likely to vary from organization to organization - bit more importantly because the book (in both this, and the subsequent chapter on Planned Maintenance) only considers three job roles - the Maintenance Planner, Maintenance Technician, and Maintenance Controller (this last role typically involves estimation of work order costs, and ensuring that costs are sent to the appropriate location in SAP's Controlling (CO) module - and in my experience, is most often performed by the Maintenance Planner) - nowhere is there any reference to a Maintenance Supervisory role - in fact, the book would have us believe that the Maintenance Planner is responsible for the supervision of Maintenance Technicians. Not only is this not common practice in almost every maintenance organization that I have attended, but on the few occasions where I have seen a single role have accountability for both supervision and planning, the results have been an unmitigated disaster - simply, the planning and supervision roles are far best handled by separate individuals, as the skills and timeframes associated with each of these tasks (Supervision and Planning) are completely different from each other.

The sixth chapter "Business Process: Planned Maintenance" covers the process of creating Task Lists, assigning Materials, and creating Maintenance Plans in SAP-PM. Nowhere does it provide information on how to produce a Weekly Schedule of planned work, or how to ensure that the work that is scheduled can be balanced with the labour available for its completion - simply, the most critical activitiy for Planned Maintenance.

Chapter 7, "Special Cases" deals with activities related to rebuild or refurbishment of repairable/rotable items, and also covers how to use SAP-PM to assign work to external contractors - again, this is simply covered from a technical SAP point of view - no consideration is given to the business processes which will lead to most effective use of Maintenance contractors.

Chapter 8, "Integrative Aspects" discusses, at a very high level, issues relating to integration of SAP-PM with other SAP modules, including Materials Management (MM), Investment Management (IM), Controlling (CO), Asset Accounting (FI-AA), Human Resources (HR) modules. Once again, my experience has been that, most often, one of the keys to successful SAP implementation is to make sure that appropriate business processes have been established in these other modules (especially MM and HR) to support the business processes that have been established in SAP-PM - the importance of this is not discussed at all in this chapter.

The last chapter "Interfaces to non-SAP Systems" discusses some aspects of interfacing to Process Control Systems and CAD systems, but not in sufficient detail to be of much use to the target readership - consultants and project teams implementing SAP-PM.

In conclusion, this book is very disappointing indeed. It may be of limited use as a reference/memory jogger after a consultant has been through an SAP training course - but if you have not yet been through an SAP-PM training course, then I would suggest that this would be far more useful, and far greater value than purchasing this book.

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Revised: Thursday, 08-Oct-2015 12:08:03 AEDT
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