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Author's profile photo Oscar Del Castillo

Lessons learned from EAM Enterprise Structure and Master Data – Planning and Maintenance Plants

Deciding on which plants, storage locations, functional locations and equipment records to create might seem like a trivial task to some, and a daunting task for others. As with most things, the best strategy for this is somewhere in the middle.

Having a very detailed functional location hierarchy can make it hard for technicians to write notifications and PM orders. On the contrary, having a very generic structure will not provide management with meaningful information about their maintenance costs and overall asset health.

To facilitate these type of decisions, I will start a series of blog posts to discuss the creation and maintenance of EAM and  MM structure elements and master data based on real-life issues that I’ve faced at my company.

In this first post I will start by discussing what I wished I knew about setting up maintenance plants and planning plants when I first started.

Keep in mind, I work for a utility company with transmission, distribution and generation assets. In my line of work I deal mostly with the Plant Maintenance, Material Management and some FICO. We use ERP 6.0 and we do not use WMS, SD or PP, so my point of view reflects what I know from the modules I support.

Planning / Maintenance Plant Concepts

SAP explains maintenance plants and planning plants as follows:

Maintenance Plant: “The maintenance plant of a technical object is the plant at which it is installed”

Planning plant: “The maintenance planning plant of a technical object is the plant in which the maintenance tasks for the object are planned and prepared”

The definitions by themselves, are quite hard to understand. SAP explains that there are three types of planning.

  • Decentralized planning: Planning for all maintenance activities in the plants is done on each plant. In this case you have one maintenance plant per each planning plant.
  • Centralized planning: This is the opposite from decentralized planning. In this case you have one planning plant associated with multiple maintenance plants.
  • Partially Centralized Maintenance Planning: This is just the combination of the first two. Some plants have centralized planning and others decentralized planning. 

This picture clearly explains those three concepts:

 

You can read the rest of the standard SAP definitions here:

While the information from SAP is a good start, it doesn’t clearly explain all of the implications of the structuring of maintenance and planning plants and most new users get quite confused when trying to interpret these concepts on their own.

From experience, here is what helped me understand what the plant hierarchy is and why is it so important

  • All plants are maintenance plants. It doesn’t matter if they have any FLOCS or Equipment records installed on them. Any plant created in configuration is a maintenance plant.
  • Not all maintenance plants are planning plants. You must manually decide which plants become planning plants in configuration.
    • Once you declare that a plant is a planning plant- you can start assigning it to your maintenance plants.
  • The planning plant is one of the most fundamental structures in SAP. There is a large number of configuration and master data which is directly impacted by the planning plant structure across different SAP modules. You must understand the implications that creating a new planning plant have in the rest of the SAP modules which your company has.

Here is a list of things I would advise users to understand before deciding to create a new planning plant.

  • A planning plant is linked to just ONE company code. A company code can have multiple planning plats assigned to it.
  • A maintenance plant is linked to just ONE planning plant. A planning plant can have multiple maintenance plants assigned to it.
  • In the recommended SAP setting, the material valuation will be done at the plant level.
  • Your planning plant will be one of the factors which SAP uses in automatic account determination. This will tell SAP which GL accounts to debit and credit for some material movements.
  • Material records have information which belongs to each plant, such as MRP data and valuation. Remember you can use MRP areas to run MRP for each storage location or groups of storage locations.
  • Either a plant or a company code is linked to a purchasing organization. Vendor master records store information at the purchasing organization level.
  • A planning and maintenance plant get assigned to your functional locations and equipment records.
  • A planning plant is assigned to your planner groups and MRP Controllers
  • You must assign your maintenance order types to your planning plants so that they can be used there.

Maintenance plants do not have as big implications as planning plants. Here are some actual uses you can have for them:

  • Maintenance plants can be used as authorization objects to determine who can modify master data.
  • You need to populate a maintenance plant in equipment and functional location records. Technically, you can use the maintenance plant to segregate your assets in reports, but you can do the same with functional locations.
  • When using external applications – such as Work Manager – you can use the maintenance plant to segregate your assets. This is exactly what we do in our environment for our transmission and distribution assets.

Common misconceptions about maintenance and planning plants

There are common misconceptions around maintenance and planning plants. Here are the most popular ones I’ve found.

” I have 5 facilities, I need 5 maintenance plants so that I can segregate my assets by plant”

One of the most common is that you have to create maintenance plants for each facility which operates separately from another. This is not necessarily true

For example, I recently did the configuration for a project which had 5 thermal facilities scattered around the city with centralized planning. I could have created 5 different maintenance plants and one planning plant – but  I only created one plant which worked as a maintenance plant and a planning plant. Here is why:

  • Authorization objects were not going to be managed by facility. One person is responsible for updating all master data for all the facilities.
  • The functional location structure allows us to easily segregate facilities. All FLOCS belonging to the same facility have the same structure, so I can run reports that way instead of running reports by plant.
  • All technicians can work on all facilities, so they all needed all the master data available to them in Work Manager. I don’t have to segregate the assets by plant
  • In my experience, having multiple maintenance plants complicates other business processes. SAP does not differentiate between maintenance plants and planning plants on search helps, so users get quite confused in some transactions where they have to manually populate the plant. These transactions include creating networks and requisitions.

“I am building a new office, I need a new planning plant because all my planners will be there”

The second most popular misconception is that if the planning is done in two different facilities, you must have two different planning plants. Because of all the configuration settings associated to planning plants – this can turn a simple configuration change into something much more complex.

Regularly planning plants are “virtual” plants, not physical places. The same can be true for maintenance plants. There might or might not be a geographical relationship between your plants and your facilities.

Key points

Here are two key points when working on changes to your enterprise structure

“Resist any urge from specific users to do changes in the enterprise structure to fit their specific needs without understanding the overarching impacts that the decision will have.”

I had to spend around 5  meetings with a manager who wanted to create an additional plant so that he could run MRP separately for two different warehouses . He didn’t understand all the configuration settings behind a planning plant, and what  MRP areas were. Had I agreed to do this, the valuation for the exact same material in two different  storage locations; I would have confused my users because some of them might see additional plants in their search helps; I would have to do plant to plant transfers and create financial documents for each transfer … and the list of pain points goes on and on.

“A geographical relationship between your maintenance and planning plants and your facilities might or might not exist”

Your plant structure is much more linked to your maintenance processes than it is to where your assets or planners are physically located. Do not name your planning plants after your buildings. 

 

If you want to explore more content, check out this blog which explains the plant creation step by step

Are you experiencing issues with your enterprise structure? Please ask a question in the SAP community!

Did I miss something that you think is critical to understand planning plants and maintenance plants? Please list your content in the comments below!

What’s next?

On the next blog – I’ll explain the mistakes I have made while structuring FLOCS, creating equipment records and how to avoid them.

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