Tackling rapid expansion with unified mobile interface, available online and offline, improves information flow and streamlines SAP-based project and maintenance processes, and lowers costs in the process.
CHALLENGE: Aggressive expansion puts pressure on SAP-based operations and offline plant maintenance processes
Increased work orders and production. A growing community of users. Aggressive goals for renewable energy.
To meet increasing demands on its SAP PM environment and support workers in the field, Sweden-based utility company Vattenfall needed to improve its project management and maintenance processes.
The company, which serves millions of electricity, heat, and gas customers throughout Europe, has the ambitious goal of making fossil-free living possible within one generation, focusing on renewable biomass, wind, hydro, and solar energy sources.
As one of Europe’s leading energy companies, staying competitive while meeting that innovative goal takes standardized workflow and tight control of IT and development costs.
“We wanted to make our users happy with updated project management and equipment maintenance processes in a unified interface, without them having to worry about the system in the background,” said Johan Kronman, Project Manager at Vattenfall. “We also sought to design these capabilities using SAP Fiori guidelines for mobile. And because our environment is fairly complex, we wanted to avoid adding any additional infrastructure and make sure we weren’t dependent on any one company or partner.”
That’s what led Vattenfall to Neptune Software. “Many of the solutions we reviewed were too complex or too costly, but Neptune hit the mark,” said Johan. “Knowing that we could build a strong offline experience with was quite valuable. Some of our sites are very remote, even offshore, and in rugged terrain. One of the first things we wanted to do was provide field workers with a checklist and equipment maintenance documentation in the field.”
Vattenfall also needed to address existing process gaps that would help them incorporate new ways of working while navigating the functional and infrastructure requirements of our large, multinational enterprise. That included the need to meet restrictions for security, firewalls, remote area documentation, and more.
APPROACH: Building user support to help them embrace change and harmonize processes across sites
To create a solution that met what their field workers needed, the team went to the company’s wind farms to talk to the users and define the key uses cases.
“Because we have different wind farms across numerous countries, we need to account for local ways of working, while harmonizing and agreeing on one process.”
In addition to the work order operations solutions, Vattenfall planned to deliver streamlined planning and scheduling capabilities for its project management team.
“Throughout our design and execution phases, we were seeking a common way to work. Based on this we adjusted back end processes for every use case,” said Johan.
“We also included users in the build process, getting their feedback every step of the way, from mockup, to testing, to implementation. Doing so helped ensure we were keeping the users’ needs at the forefront.”
The world order rollout started at two pilot sites, where the Vattenfall team used the application in the field for two months. Next, they used that pilot experience to improve the applications and processes before they were implemented more broadly across sites.
“With the Neptune platform, it was easy to make adjustments quickly. At the same time, it helped us uncover ways to improve backend processes to make sure the logic was presented to users in the best way.”
“Today users are excited to try new things. That’s a strong indicator we’ve done something good.”
RESULTS: Happier users, lower costs, streamlined workflow, and more predictable maintenance
Users are happy with the Neptune interface, and they like having the ability to work on or offline, anytime, and on any device they like,” said Johan. “Doing so means they no longer need to come into the office and stop at a desktop to document their day’s work. They also appreciate not having to remember all of the complicated backend workflows.”
With the standardized workflow design and improved user experience in Neptune, Vattenfall can easily add new apps and replicate system changes quickly to all of the fleets. Even better: All of this was accomplished without having to add any hardware or additional technology infrastructure.
Another clear indicator of their success? Users who were at first hesitant to embrace the changes now clamor to be the first to try new apps and capabilities.
“With Neptune, we’ve improved our information flow throughout the field, which has helped us better manage our maintenance backlog. We get more information about our equipment status and new issues, which has all led to faster, shorter lead times for equipment repair and maintenance,” said Johan. “With more complete data available on conditions and measurement values, our planners and schedulers also have much more control over their scheduling efforts, a big improvement to their workflow.”
A more replete data set is also increasing Vattenfall’s predictive maintenance and planning capabilities, which they’re counting on to help improve equipment assessments and lower costs as they increase their renewable energy fleet level. Decreasing unscheduled maintenance not only improves the repair teams’ efficiency, but it also represents a key competitive advantage for the company.
And with the success of the SAP rollout with Neptune DX Platform and its Planet 8 module, moving to the system-agnostic Planet 9 platform is a consideration.
“Looking forward, we’re considering the possibility of having apps that combine information from different systems beyond our SAP environment, and want to provide the same look and feel of our Neptune apps,” said Johan.
Customer Industry: Energy
Geographic Reach: Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, the UK, and Finland
Neptune Functionality Scope: Sales & Marketing
Number of Users: 50 users/plans to increase to 200 user in 2019
System Version: SAP PM | Offline Plant Maintenance
Devices: Windows 10 tablets, desktop computers
Implementation Timeline: 6 months
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