Author Archive | Maintenance Technology


3:09 pm
March 13, 2017
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SAP Tips and Tricks: Maintenance Plans — What do all the fields mean?

By Kristina Gordon, DuPont

SAP Maintenance Plans determine how and when a work order or notification will be generated. (Object or notifications will be referred to as objects in this article.) The scheduling parameter settings within the maintenance plan you create dictate these rules. In response to several questions I’ve received about what should be entered and what the value represents, the following screen shot and definitions describe, in detail, the scheduling parameter settings that should be used in a typical maintenance plan. MT


SF (shift factor) later confirmation:

Based on the percentage entered, this will dictate the next plan date, or due date, of the maintenance plan if an object confirmation has been completed after the original due date.

Example: If the due date for a plan, generated on an object, is Jan. 1, and the maintenance plan is on a 30-day scheduling frequency, however the work and confirmation of that work is not completed until Jan. 15, a 100% late SF will generate the next object on Feb. 15, 30 days after the confirmation. If the SF later confirmation is set at 0%, then the next work order will generate on the scheduling frequency of 30 days without a shift factor calculated in, meaning the work order will generate on Feb. 1.

SF earlier confirmation:

The same rules apply as above, only this formula will calculate based on early confirmation of a work order. If set at 100% and the work is performed 15 days early, the next object will be generated 15 days earlier than the original plan date. If set at 0%, the original plan date will stay the same.

randmTolerance (+):

This determines the difference between the actual completion date and the planned date.

Example: If you set a 20% tolerance on a plan that has a scheduling frequency of 30 days, the calculation the system will use is 30 days x 20% = 6 days. That means you have a 6-day “float” period that is accepted by the system and will not affect scheduling. If you complete the job and confirm the work 6 days early, the plan will not change, i.e., the dates are in the acceptable range.

Tolerance (-):

As in the above example, the parentage calculation applies and will allow a 6-day float after the plan date.

Cycle modification factor:

This calculation is used when implementing maintenance strategies. If you have a cycle duration of 60 days, but want a plan to generate in 90 days, set the cycle modification to 1.5. This will allow the plan to generate an object in 90 days while the other plans on the same strategy will generate in 60 days. The calculation used for this example is 60 days x 1.5 = 90 days.

Factory calendar:

The factory calendar dictates when the system will process scheduling. Factory calendars can be set in the header data of the maintenance plan or at the planning plant item level.

Example: If the factory calendar is set at a 5-day workweek calendar with holidays, object will not accept confirmations on non-working days (this would include weekends and holidays). You will receive a system error message “not a working day.” To avoid this, a factory calendar should be created for maintenance that allows a 7-day, 24-hour working schedule.

Call horizon:

The calculation used in this field will determine how far in advance an object is generated before the plan due date.

Example: On a 30-day plan, if the call horizon is set at 25%, the work order will generate 21 days before the plan due date of the object. It is very important to set your call horizon so that an object is generated so that the job can be planned well in advance of the plan due date.

Scheduling period:

The scheduling period indicates, in days, months, or years, how far in advance you want to see your maintenance calls.

Example: If you set the scheduling period for 365 days, the system will show the calls for that plan for one year in advance. This will help with long-term planning.

Requires confirm:

When you check this powerful box, the system determines when the next object will be generated from the plan. It will only generate when the previous call object has been completed. If you do not check this box, the system will not take into consideration whether the previous object was completed and will generate the next work order on the call date assigned.

Scheduling indicator:

This indicates when to schedule your plan. It will use time, which works in conjunction with the tolerance percentages. Time key date, which will always use the actual date, and factory calendar take into consideration the working days set in the calendar entered.

Kristina Gordon is SAP PM Leader, DuPont Protective Solutions Business, and SAP WMP Champion, Spruance Site, Richmond, VA. If you have SAP questions, send them to and we’ll forward them to Kristina.


1:25 pm
March 13, 2017
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Final Thought: The Time to Improve Culture Is Yesterday

klausblacheBy Dr. Klaus M. Blache, Univ. of Tennessee, Reliability & Maintainability Center

Just about every survey on reasons for large implementation failure or roadblocks to business excellence links back to improving the organizational culture. My own survey of several hundred companies resulted in similar results. The top two responses to the question on how to best attain future ROI (return on investment) were “leadership” and “engaged workforce (buy-in).” The good news is both are attainable. The bad news is that, 30 years ago, a similar survey identified the same two opportunities.

Understanding culture

Companies understand that organizational culture is the key to a winning organization, yet for many reasons it’s difficult to implement. The reasons for failure are many. Among them:

• insufficient urgency (reason to change)

• leaders not “walking the talk”

• fear of outcome (might lose my job)

• lack of communication (to all levels)

• clear vision with doable first steps

• too much resistance (not clearing roadblocks before getting started)

• assuring there is sufficient management support in key areas of all departments.

According to Business Dictionary (, organizational culture (which is also known as corporate culture) “includes an organization’s expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together, and is expressed in its self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid. . . It affects the organization’s productivity and performance, and provides guidelines on customer care and service, product quality and safety, attendance and punctuality, and concern for the environment.”

I personally like this simpler definition: “Culture is what employees do when nobody is watching.” It’s about knowing what to do (standardized work) and having the skills to do it (capability). These attributes are what most employees are trained on. What’s typically missing is workforce engagement (willingness).

In his book Good to Great (Harper Business, New York, 2001), author Jim Collins wrote, “All companies have a culture, some companies have discipline, but few companies have a culture of discipline. When you have disciplined people, you don’t need hierarchy. When you have disciplined thought, you don’t need bureaucracy. When you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls.” With a culture of discipline, where people know what to do and are capable of and willing to do it, great performance is a natural outcome.

W. Edwards Deming noted that it isn’t necessary to change. Survival isn’t mandatory.

W. Edwards Deming noted that it isn’t necessary to change. Survival isn’t mandatory.

Changing culture

A change-implementation process is critical to the success of any large project or process change. Assess your readiness for change before starting. As a minimum, perform a “force-field analysis” to identify the roadblocks and start removing them before the change effort starts. Doing so will provide a visual and numerical framework of workplace forces (that help or hinder a desired goal) to assess your readiness for change.

All sequence-of-implementation models for lean, RCM (Reliability Centered Maintenance), and TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) include “organizational culture” as a foundational element. This, in turn, calls for implementing such things as 5S and standardized work to enable Lean, RCM, and TPM, and other strategies. My research shows the companies that fully implement 5S (which requires a culture of discipline) have twice the likelihood of being successful in lean manufacturing.

In the words of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, The Deming Institute (, however, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” Organizational culture goes hand in hand with implementation of best practices. It’s not surprising that the top-quartile-performing facilities also have the best cultures.

“Change” is an action word. If you’re not yet working on organizational culture and engaging your workforce, you are already behind. MT

Based in Knoxville, Klaus M. Blache is director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee, and a research professor in the College of Engineering. Contact him at


4:19 pm
February 23, 2017
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MT Online Podcast: Cloud Computing with Saadi Kermani


mtop1Cloud computing/data storage is a way of life for many companies. For many others it’s an unavoidable “future” technology that carries with it some concern, particularly about security.  In this podcast, editorial director Gary L. Parr explores various facets of cloud computing, data storage, and data centers with Saadi Kermani, technology evangelist and business-development manager for the Industrial Information Management business at Schneider Electric. In the conversation they discuss whether users should be concerned about company data security, the need for basic due diligence, and the many advantages of cloud data storage.

In Saadi’s current role at Schneider electric, he enables industrial customers and partners to realize the benefits of lower operational costs, optimized assets and streamlined processes through the use of advanced analytics, KPIs, and real-time access to industrial process data delivered through a set of online managed services. Previously, he was the product manager for Wonderware SmartGlance and Wonderware Online, in addition to being a key contributor to the strategic definition and deployment of cloud hosted solutions for Wonderware. Prior to that role, he was stationed in Europe, providing strategic account management as a technical account manager for the Global Software Customer Support division.