Reimagining asset maintenance execution

November 15, 2021

A recent SAP ‘Packathon’ for the Australian Pacific Japan (APJ) region offered DXC Technology the perfect opportunity to showcase its ability to simplify, modernise and reimagine core applications within SAP. 

In two intense weeks of accelerated development, DXC produced a market-ready solution, “DXC Maintenance and Reliability Intelligence for SAP”, to help improve the efficiency of asset maintenance for resource-intensive organisations, such as mining companies and utilities. Winning against strong competition was a testament to our ability to create a cloud-based solution with a compelling value proposition for the customer.

The ‘Packathon’ accelerated ideation and development for a solution that extends the capabilities of SAP’s Data Warehouse Cloud application, offering an industry-specific dashboard that provides a fully integrated analysis of maintenance execution processes and helps locate pain points and identify workflow bottlenecks.

Supercharged by SAP Data Intelligence, the solution facilitates an advanced add-on to underpin and improve process efficiency and agility. Moreover, it broadens the power of SAP S/4HANA and leverages non-SAP data to provide a comprehensive yet user-friendly overview that gives managers the information they need to improve critical internal business processes.

Learning from experience

The inspiration came from our frontline system integration consultants, whose job is to solve business problems with SAP’s core ERP applications. Even though these technology-leading solutions satisfy most of our customers’ requirements, there is often a need to finetune applications to meet better the needs of large, complex organisations – each of whom has its unique way of organising and executing business processes. 

The ‘Packathon’ standardises customisation work we had done previously for asset maintenance customers into an industry-specific package. Doing so let us address a common challenge for asset-intensive organisations – the ability to manage, alter, and improve business process execution.

A typical issue for many of these organisations is that they need to first commit to the big cost of professional Business Process Management (BPM) applications in order to use it and find problems of existing business processes, to eventually justify the original cost. In addition, many of them are not aimed at typical business users in that they require intervention and oversight by specialist BPM consultants. Hence it left us a good gap to fill so that business users and executives are able to use analytics reporting tool to look into process world.

Solving typical asset management challenges

Running maintenance to plan, ability to see how they are tracking against their key performance indicators (KPIs) and visibility into compliance of maintenance execution are key challenges for asset-intensive organisations.

Servicing an asset requires intensive pre-planning to schedule lock-outs and isolations so work can be carried out. To have it cancelled or delayed can cause significant issues in terms of costs, as well as regulatory repercussions. Not having a piece of crucial equipment serviced or inspected within a required timeframe can be reason enough for a certification authority to temporarily close down a company’s operations.

For organisations that rely on producing a product, be it iron ore or electricity, low asset utilisation can have severe impacts. The better they can align asset downtime with execution to their maintenance plan, the better it is for their bottom line.

An easier path to KPI tracking

Default KPI reports, such as ‘mean time to repair’ and ‘mean time between failure’, are often not configurable enough for organisations that typically have their own industry definition of recording and measuring KPIs. Balance between robust data acquisition process and flexible business rule driven analysis had been proved to be very difficult to achieve with the traditional Enterprise Data Warehouse products. To get around this, organisations rely on ‘snapshots’ from their operating system to see how they are performing, comparing to a picture of the system once the maintenance is undertaken.

Extracting information into flat files, as a workaround, can be taxing, with many organisations finding themselves in a data mess one month into the journey. 

With these challenges in mind, our development team decided to leverage the power of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud as a base data modelling and reporting tool to provide a dashboard of configurable critical maintenance KPIs, including Maintenance Window, Execution Window Alignment, Compliance and Overdue Work. 

DXC Asset Maintenance Reliability for SAP Dashboard

 

The solution's heart is an agile data mart, a repository of data gathered from operational data originating in the SAP transactional system and other sources. It is designed to be maintained by IT professionals but can be enhanced by business users. The data mart captures a snapshot of critical processes. When a business rule changes, users can access the business layer, change the rules and calculations, and ensure it continues to record an accurate snapshot of the altered business process and report on it accordingly. The tool strikes a balance between manageability, performance, and flexibility.

Shedding light on process performance

The solution’s user interface consists of a rich dashboard of reports that provides insights into various facets of the most important KPIs in asset maintenance. Front and centre is an asset utilisation indicator that gives managers an up-to-date score of how optimised asset downtime is in relation to the maintenance execution plan. The dashboard also provides spatial analysis and map visualisation of assets and a historical snapshot to support trend analysis.

The application uniquely delivers a process cockpit that integrates SAP and non-SAP data to provide a 360-degree view of maintenance execution processes. The cockpit shows how many work orders are executed, but most importantly, it surfaces all the different variants of work order execution and graphically depicts each stage in their route from start to finish, as well as the duration between steps.

The resulting process flow gives users immediate insight into which work orders are being completed efficiently and which ones are being held up by roadblocks or redundant steps in the execution process. Armed with this information, users can effect real change within the business by identifying areas that require improvement and making the necessary adjustments.

DXC Maintenance and Reliability Intelligence for SAP process flows

Large, asset-intensive organisations often have more than one enterprise system involved in managing and executing maintenance orders. For instance, work orders raised in SAP are sent to a separate scheduling system. Traditionally, it has been challenging to combine the two processes from the different systems to obtain an integrated picture of the efficiency of the process.

But with the DXC Maintenance and Reliability Intelligence application, powered by SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, this is now not only possible, but also easy to implement. The rich and ever-growing collection of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud’s source system types gives the app ability to seamlessly integrate data from SAP and other systems and provide a granular view of all the steps in the execution of each work order. This enterprise-wide picture of process helps identify interaction and collaboration issues, such as slow handovers between users. It also enables the organisation to discover opportunities for remedial actions such as introducing robotic process automation to speed up repetitive tasks or improve resource allocation or procurement practices that might be slowing down a particular stage in the execution process.

Armed with this solution, organisations will also be able to modernise asset maintenance planning with intuitive and tightly controlled maintenance forecasting. Soon the functionality of the application will be extended to apply machine learning to historical data, allowing organisations to undertake ‘what if’ simulations. This type of scenario planning will be a valuable tool for managers to assess expected process outcomes after weighing a range of possible impacts along the execution journey. 

For more information about DXC’s Maintenance and Reliability Intelligence for SAP application, please email oxygen.info@dxc.com.  

Blog written by Martin Green, SAP Data Analytics Practice Manager & Andrew Bird, Asset Management Practice Manager, DXC Technology Australia & New Zealand

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