As a long-time SAP user, Alupress knows that the ERP system leaves nothing to be desired in terms of functionality. However, in terms of clarity and handling of its user interfaces – keyword usability – SAP generally still has room for improvement. The maintenance department of the South Tyrolean die-casting manufacturer has also made this experience, having worked with SAP EAM (Enterprise Asset Management), formerly Plant Maintenance, in the past. This meant that chargebacks, for example, were always a major effort: first the chargeback slip had to be created on paper and then the message transferred 1:1 to SAP. This not only meant double work, it also cost time and was no longer acceptable for maintenance in the long term.
Since autumn 2015, Alupress has therefore been “refining” its SAP EAM module with OPRA (Optimized Proactive Lifecycle Approach), the SAP-based application for the maintenance of mobile and stationary systems and devices from DATAGROUP – a giant step in terms of usability, says Stefano Sudaro, project manager for the topic of maintenance in the IT department of Alupress.
Before OPRA went live at Alupress, the solution had to undergo extensive evaluation and comparison with the competition. On the market, there exist mainly isolated solutions that are aimed at specific industries and include interfaces to SAP. OPRA with its industry-independent approach and 100% integration in EAM occupies a special position among them.
Mass changes on different maintenance orders in the order cockpit, for example. There the user can change fields collectively – “Change, click, enter, done!” Unlike in SAP, where this is only possible order by order. Since the beginning of September, the Tier 2 automotive supplier has been implementing the solution department by department, starting with surface processing. This means that the production areas are only gradually switching from the previous system of reporting faults in paper form to the electronic version. In the experience of the Alupress maintenance team, it is advisable not to have all those involved in machine maintenance write their reports immediately via OPRA. Rather, they chose to slowly bring the employees closer to the system.
If damage occurs to a system, the production manager will in future select the relevant machine from a list in the OPRA mask, attach photos if necessary and then send an error message via the system. This message is received electronically by the maintenance manager, who converts it into an order and assigns it to the responsible colleague (in the case of an electrical defect, to the electrician, etc.)
In the four Alupress production facilities – the parent plant in Brixen, two locations in Germany and one in the USA – a total of 30 colleagues are involved in maintenance.
While production is gradually switching to the new system, maintenance have been working with the system since the introduction of OPRA – initially with the desktop solution, and in future with OPRAmobile on their smartphones. With the mobile solution, maintenance staff will in future be able to scan a machine with a barcode while processing a maintenance order.
On the smartphone, he then sees the further orders that are available for this system. “In this way, we make ideal use of downtimes for further maintenance,” explains Stefano Sudaro. Above all, the maintenance technician can use OPRA mobile to report back to SAP the time worked and the components installed, which are then immediately booked out of the warehouse. Until now, this feedback was done on paper and then manually transferred to the ERP system.
With OPRA, Alupress will in future be able to set up flawless industrial 4.0 scenarios in the field of maintenance. “This is a key focus for our management”, reports Benjamin Kaser. Sensors on the machine automatically send information to the central SAP system. If certain threshold values are exceeded, automated actions are triggered: either the maintenance interval is adjusted, fault messages are generated or spare parts and consumables are ordered. Alupress aims to be ready in two to three years. So the path with OPRA clearly leads the South Tyrolean aluminum specialists towards Industry 4.0.
For more than 45 years the company Alupress AG has been recognized as a die casting specialist. Through continued development of the company and various acquisitions over the past few years, today we are active in manufacturing, processing and assembly of complex aluminum die cast parts, with locations in Brixen (I), Hildburghausen (D) and Laurens (USA).