What use is SAP, probably the best administration system there is, if it is not really user-friendly? Exactly – not much use at all. That’s why we developed a user-friendly add-on for SAP PM: the Synergy Plant Maintenance Platform.

Since its launch, SAP (Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing) has become an immense administration system that is suitable for a huge range of possible applications. The process of making changes may seem like walking through a labyrinth to you, but it’s an easy job for a SAP consultant! That’s why, more than a decade ago, we started out on our mission: to make SAP adaptable to the needs of each company.

Based on that mission, we didn’t hesitate for a second when a customer of Incentro asked us to develop a user-friendly, SAP-based maintenance system. For this we used Synergy Plant Maintenance (SAP PM), a standard module in SAP’s ERP software that is almost never used, simply because it is not user friendly and can only be accessed from your desktop. That’s pretty inconvenient for service technicians performing tasks out in the field. You obviously want them to be able to do their job as easily as possible.

Our answer to this problem involved using OutSystems – a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) – to build a shell around the existing SAP Plant Maintenance Platform module.

The shell allows the use of SAP PM on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones via a simple visualisation. This enables service technicians out in the field to instantly submit reports and upload photos, and easily mark inspection tasks as done. You can also use our SAP Plant Maintenance Platform to process work orders. Staff can use this facility to create a work order when they have a spare moment, which facilitates hybrid working and improves efficiency.

We specifically built the Plant Maintenance Platform to be easy to roll out to any company that works with SAP and handles maintenance tasks for machines, vehicles, buildings and so on. Rapid implementation and increased user-friendliness ensure greater use of SAP PM, significantly upping the amount of data entered.

This is because service technicians no longer have to walk to their SAP computer to enter notes and comments they have written down on paper. This saves time and raises your employees’ reporting input, meaning you detect faults quickly, increase the availability and reliability of your machines, vehicles and buildings, and reduce your downtime. That’s a big win, right? 

Making your ERP system accessible for mobile devices, collecting more data, hybrid working and working in the cloud are absolutely crucial these days. Indeed, the fourth industrial revolution – ‘Industry 4.0’ – is a shift to a higher gear. But what does this mean exactly? Eliminating manual handling from your processes to the greatest possible extent and letting AI, robots and the Internet of Things (smart devices) control each other. They do this by exchanging data with each other, through your ERP system.  

In the automotive industry, for example, robots already retrieve vehicle body assembly information from the ERP system and submit defective part reports to initiate a repair. The future really is happening now! And you must keep up, because in the years to come the companies at the forefront of Industry 4.0 will benefit from the greatest competitive advantages. So make sure that your business is fully digitalised and that your SAP fully supports optimal data exchange as you can then implement automation and AI. Read this article for more information on how to prepare yourself.  

If you’re still working with paper-based inspection rounds right now, Industry 4.0 may seem very distant. But you must go with the flow, to ensure the continuity of your company. The smart way to approach this? Combine Industry 4.0 with the migration to S/4HANA. That migration is looming ever closer, as maintenance of your current SAP version will end in 2030. 

So if you have to prepare a major migration for your ERP system anyway, making it suitable for digitalisation and automation at the same time is just common sense. Investigate which third-party applications are also compatible with S/4HANA, which tools you can add to digitise your paperwork and make sure you have cleaned up all your data and then store it in a clear structure. This gives you a solid database to build on. Read more here about the migration to S/4HANA and combining that migration task with digitalisation and automation.

This may all seem rather overwhelming, but you can get started on some relatively easy improvements right away. Synergy Plant Maintenance, for example, can be implemented in no time and lets you digitalise the entire maintenance process. It’s also compatible with S/4HANA. This is because we built it using OutSystems’ low-code platform. 

We have also developed an effective, completely secure strategy that allows you to apply it to any SAP system without restrictions. And while it’s basically the same for everyone, we can tailor it to your specific needs. We look forward to helping you make SAP PM more user-friendly, setting up the module for maintenance, digitising all your paperwork, and getting you ready for Industry 4.0! Get in touch with our expert Julian to discuss the possibilities.