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  • Operators need to continuously collect engineering and maintenance information about spare parts from many business partners over the life of an asset

  • This information is best collected in an asset centric business network to feed into plant maintenance processes

  • Content exchange must exist beyond the original information exchange and needs to encompass the full life cycle of the equipment to includes parts information updates like service bulletins, recalls, obsolescence or part number changes.


During most maintenance work the technician will need items like components (maintainable items...), parts (fasteners, filters..) and consumables (fluids, wiring..) to complete the job.

These items need to be planned, procured, stocked, prepared, issued and costed for accurate and efficient work execution. The ongoing digital collection of detailed information for these items from manufacturers, engineering companies and dealers is a significant overhead for operators and in the age of intelligent enterprises needs a new and smart approach to ensure data is always correct and ready.

The following is a simplified process showing collaboration between a manufacturer and operator for spare parts information:

In the above process there is continuous collaboration between the operator and manufacturer / engineering company (EPC) to:

  • request and improve spare parts information for an initial load as part of a capital project

  • feedback to improve or provide additional information if content is not sufficent.

In addition because we are in the network a permanent link between the companies is established which results in a publish & subscribe connection - where subsequent service bulletins, parts changes, recalls or data enhancements (i.e. new documents or video) are automatically delivered from the manufacturer to the operator after the initial handover. The following is an example of an announcement from the manufacturer to operators that they are changing one of the part number for one of their equipment:

Collaborative process for the initial and ongoing exchange of parts information are now delivered via the combination of SAP Asset Intelligence Network (to collect and keep the data live) and Master Data Governance (to load and perform final validation of the data).

This collaboration is based on Asset Intelligence Network (AIN) so we benefit from the modern structures of the Asset Central Foundation. One of the key concepts is to facilitate Model Driven Equipment Management (as outlined already in this blog). For this the "model" is a reference structure that is a reusable hierarchy which includes parts list at all levels as follows:

Each Equipment is assigned a Model and inherits all the spare parts that are defined at the model level. When a spare part record is assigned to a model many additional fields can be specified such as:

  1. "BoM Quantity" is the quantity of the part that exists in normal operation - for example there are 4 or 5 or 6 lug / wheel nuts that are on a wheel.

  2. "Delivered Quantity" is how many instances of the item are delivered with the model - for example a spare washer is shipped with every faucet which is in addition to the washer that is already in the faucet

  3. "Advised Stock Quantity" is how many spare items the manufacturer recommends that you hold in stock

  4. "Comment" is a flexible field which the manufacturer or engineering company can provide additional information to the customer

When a user views an equipment record the parts information is inherited from the model. This means the user does not have to manually specify the parts list at the equipment level.

The spare part record exists independently and can be assigned to multiple models (as well as to instructions, announcements etc).  When looking at a spare part record the user can quickly see how many equipment, models, instructions and locations the spare part is used at:

The manufacturer part number (MPN) is the key field of the spare parts record and can easily searched in the spare parts list:

The spare part can also be classified with a class. This allows the manufacturer to provide additional attributes and detailed pictures to better define the parts record:

The spare part can also be grouped into a few different types of groups - in particular the:

  • "Spare Parts Kit" is used to bundle parts that are sold or packaged as kits for instance for a regualar service

  • "Variant" is used to group parts that are interchangeable because they have the same form fit and function

The Request process in AIN allows an operator to request information from a manufacturer about all the information in 1 or more models or equipment - including the spare parts information. This is a cross company workflow that is instantiated by the operator and shows up in the inbox of the manufacturer.

The above shows how modern companies can collaborate digitally to collect and sustain spare parts information records to have a complete set of information to drive efficient maintenance processes.


This is from an ongoing series of blogs covering top topics for asset management practitioners and experts. The other blogs in the series are: