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How does Customer Service differ from Plant Maintenance in SAP?

An expert explains the similarities and differences between the processes in SAP ERP's Plant Maintenance and Customer Service components.

Companies using Plant Maintenance in SAP ERP for managing their in-house maintenance tasks can leverage the SAP...

Customer Service (CS) component to perform maintenance functions for external customers. In the Plant Maintenance (PM) component, all maintenance costs related to spare parts, consumables or labor expended on equipment maintenance are eventually charged to a cost center. In the CS component, the company bills the customer for maintenance services rendered on customer equipment. The CS component also completely integrates with the SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) component for customer quotation creation and customer billing.

Plant Maintenance in SAP

For its in-house maintenance assets, the company maintains master data on equipment and on functional locations. Master data is information that resides in the system for a long period of time and facilitates day-to-day business processes. A functional location is a physical, process-oriented or spatial location that is part of the company -- for example, a pumping station.

Equipment is often installed at functional locations. A pumping station may have several pieces of equipment, such as pumps, installed. The PM component helps manage maintenance based on functional location as well as on specific pieces of equipment, by monitoring standard preventive and corrective maintenance tasks that ensure equipment is always in optimum working condition.

When equipment needs maintenance, a user creates a maintenance notification in the system. A maintenance notification is a formal request to attend to an equipment malfunction. A maintenance engineer evaluates the maintenance notification; if the equipment does need maintenance, the engineer can convert the maintenance notification into a maintenance order, which is a work order that consists of an estimation of components, resources and time required for equipment maintenance. When the maintenance engineer releases the maintenance order, the system also calculates the planned maintenance costs.

The maintenance engineer proceeds to record actual maintenance details such as maintenance components consumed, resources expended or labor hours consumed. This shows up as actual costs of equipment maintenance, which the company eventually charges to the relevant cost center.

Customer Service

In the CS component, the company maintains data on customer equipment and customer functional locations. The difference here is that the equipment category that the company uses in creating customer equipment allows maintenance of sales-related data. This sales-related data contains information such as customer number, as well as the specific sales organization or division within the company that deals with maintaining that customer's equipment.

The customer service representative creates a maintenance service notification on receiving a customer request for equipment maintenance. The maintenance engineer evaluates the service notification and converts it into a service order after determining the equipment does indeed need maintenance. Here again, the maintenance engineer maintains an estimation of the maintenance components, resources and maintenance duration details required for equipment maintenance. However, the service order is not yet released. Instead, the maintenance engineer creates a customer quotation of the planned maintenance costs to get customer approval before performing any maintenance work. Figure 1 shows an example of a customer quotation with service order number 502091. The planned total cost of $1,540.63 is the sum total of three individual planned component or labor costs.

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