CMMS Reliability Reliability & Maintenance Center

Remove Run to Failure

EP Editorial Staff | March 25, 2019

By Kristina Gordon, Illumiti

A fully integrated ERP, such as SAP, should contain data that help you move toward a reliability-centered asset-management culture.

As a manufacturer, you want your plant to run the maximum number of hours. By putting a robust maintenance strategy in place, you’re making the whole operation more reliable and boosting uptime—the main goal of maintenance. The alternative: a failure that can shut down your plant and send maintenance costs through the roof. 

There are four types of maintenance strategies: 

Run to failure

This can be costly and usually is not a desirable method unless used for a piece of equipment that is low cost, easily attainable, not production critical, and can be quickly replaced. 

Preventive maintenance

This is scheduled maintenance. While better than run to failure, it can result in unnecessary maintenance costs. In SAP, use maintenance plans to create preventive-maintenance schedules on time, or performance-based maintenance.

Predictive maintenance (PdM)  

This type of maintenance strategy is used with condition-based monitoring. In SAP, track meter readings for run-time hours, as an example. Sensors can also be used on the equipment to send all readings directly to SAP and, in turn, generate a notification or work order to service the equipment well before it goes into failure. 

RCM (reliability-centered maintenance)

This should be your goal. It is a strategy in which every piece of equipment is analyzed for every possible failure mode. Significant asset knowledge and accumulated performance data are used to produce a custom maintenance strategy for each piece of equipment. This approach will maximize asset performance, increase uptime, and dramatically reduce maintenance costs.

Transaction IP03 (or S/4HANA tile: Display Maintenance Plan) contains maintenance-plan parameters that will help you determine whether any changes should be made.

Once you’ve decided on a maintenance strategy (or the combination of several strategies), use SAP to build a plan that outlines the steps required to complete the maintenance tasks. The plan should list the work group that will perform each step, how long it will take to finish a particular task, and the order of priority.

Will preventive maintenance require a complete plant shutdown, or just a line shutdown? Can you perform it while your plant is still running? A maintenance plan will answer those questions. It’s also important to ensure that your plan generates work orders on a call horizon that will make your maintenance materials, and your inside and outside services and contractors, available when the job is due.

In transaction IP03 (or S/4HANA tile: Display Maintenance Plan) viewing the parameters of the maintenance plan will help you determine any changes that should be made. 

For example, if your maintenance plan is on a monthly frequency, generate work orders at least a month before the job is due, to allow proper scheduling and planning. Creating a schedule calls for job scoping: walking the line to determine the necessary steps, along with the materials and inside and outside labor required.

With job scoping completed, start the planning process. As part of the schedule, make sure that materials for production-critical machinery are in stock. You also need to build in lead time to receive parts for non-production-critical equipment and high-priced maintenance repair and operations (MRO) materials. With SAP’s Materials Requirement Planning (MRP), you can understand lead times, order parts, and reserve materials already onsite.

Documentation is vital to preventive maintenance. Keeping a record of maintenance activities yields reliability metrics—and lets you foresee equipment problems before something goes wrong. In other words, preventive maintenance leads to predictive maintenance. For example, by using SAP S/4HANA to track equipment temperature and vibration, your reliability team can create a plan to make fixes or adjustments that could avoid a breakdown.

Good key performance indicators (KPIs) are another important element of your preventive-maintenance process. KPIs will indicate where you are, as well as where you need to go.

In SAP S/4HANA, transaction MC18 contains a six-month history of any asset and should be used to determine cost data for that device.

Besides maintenance metrics, a fully integrated ERP, such as SAP, provides costing data. You’ll know how many hours it takes a mechanic to do a job, for instance, along with the price of materials. That gives you the full picture of what it costs to maintain a particular asset.

For example, a reliability engineer or maintenance professional can use SAP S/4HANA to pull up a six-month history for a machine (transaction MCI8). Observing that the same seal gets changed monthly, and seeing the cost of materials and services, they might determine that the one recommended by the manufacturer isn’t working. The engineer can then use SAP’s Management of Change (MOC) application to replace it with a better seal, based on the prediction that doing so will drive down labor and materials costs. EP

Kristina Gordon is SAP Principal Consultant at Illumiti, Thornhill, Ontario ( If you have SAP questions, send them to and we’ll forward them to Kristina.



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