Uncovering Hidden Treasures

Feature Article | August 23, 2004 by admin

It can be extremely difficult to obtain the right spare part, as everyone who’s experienced a broken-down washing machine knows. The customer service representative comes to repair the machine, but finds that the necessary spare part is not to hand, to both parties’ annoyance. So he/she has to come back a second time, which means a long wait, and an overflowing laundry basket.
Even if things don’t always happen exactly that way, fast and uncomplicated spare parts orders are generally the exception rather than the rule – to the frustration of customers and manufacturers, who complain about the high process costs, because after all, time is money, particularly when it comes to commercial or industrial machines that aren’t supposed to have long downtimes. A technician usually reports the fault to the customer service department. Customer service staff in turn search for the serial number of the machine in question, and the required spare part, in the ERP solution – for example SAP R/3 – and enter the purchase order. In the meantime, the technician is on hot coals waiting for the spare part so that the machine can finally be repaired. The next day, he/she telephones the manufacturer to find out the situation with the order. The customer service employee must again look up details on the PC to be able to provide the technician with information about the processing status.
This kind of procedure is extremely unsatisfactory – for both parties. The customer service department needs a lot of time to process purchase orders and enquiries – and the internal process costs are thus correspondingly high. And a customer that has to contact the manufacturer several times and is unsatisfied may ultimately be lost. Reason enough for companies from the mechanical and plant engineering industries to improve their customer service processes, because competition is becoming more intense, not just in the sale of machines, but increasingly also in the spare parts business. With efficient processing of purchase orders and enquiries, manufacturers can reduce their process costs and increase customer loyalty.

Hidden potential

The SAP partner movento has implemented a variety of solutions in numerous projects for mechanical engineering companies, which enable customers to access relevant information from the manufacturer’s SAP applications over the Internet and order spare and expendable parts online. The one thing all these solutions have in common is that they allow customers to exploit the potential that lies hidden in applications such as SAP R/3 or mySAP ERP, because the ERP applications contain production BOMs, machine numbers, and design drawings, as well as operating, maintenance, and order information for every single sales order. Using their order number or serial number, customers can quickly find the BOM for their machine and immediately order the spare part they need.
In this way, mechanical and plant engineering companies are able to master one particular challenge facing them in customer service. They manufacture complex products, often to customer specifications in numerous variations. A customer may own several different versions of one of the manufacturer’s machines. It is then extremely difficult to identify the right spare part, and the risk of placing an incorrect order is high. With the information from the manufacturer’s SAP solution, customers can find the spare part or machine documentation they are looking for more quickly and reliably. In turn, the workload in the mechanical engineering company’s customer service department is reduced, and the staff there can focus more effectively on measures to increase customer loyalty or product quality.
Clear access rights ensure that the individual customers can only view data that is relevant to them. For example, in a portal implementation, roles and views can be defined that only permit access to a certain portion of the information.

Getting to the right spare part via the SAP Asset Services Portal

The products offered by SAP provide various ways of making SAP data available over the Internet. The enterprise strategy and the existing SAP solutions are the decisive factors in determining the appropriate combination.
For example, movento implemented SAP Internet Sales R/3 Edition and SAP Asset Services Portal for a large pump manufacturer that wanted to improve its processes for the sale of spare parts, but didn’t want to implement a complete CRM solution. The SAP NetWeaver-based application in mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM) can be used as a stand-alone component for accessing customer-specific information from SAP solutions.
The company maps all pumps installed at a customer site in SAP R/3 as the “functional location” business object. For each individual pump, a piece of equipment is defined within this object, and the corresponding production BOM is stored. Customers can access the information via the SAP Asset Services Portal and thus have an overview of which pumps are installed in their facility, and where. If they need a spare part for a particular pump, they can easily find this on the basis of the structure of the functional locations, and can order it via the equipment BOM.
With SAP Internet Sales R/3 Edition, the pump manufacturer maps the sales processes of the online shop. Customers receive an order confirmation and can find out whether a spare part is available or what status their purchase order has. They can also view operating instructions and other documentation, and download this to their PC.

SAP Internet Sales CRM Edition drives customer service forward

At SEW Eurodrive, a leading specialist for drive technology, and for which movento executed the e-service project “SEW Eurodrive DriveGate”, the initial situation was somewhat different. The enterprise had already implemented mySAP CRM, and SAP Internet Sales CRM Edition was therefore the obvious solution for implementing the e-business strategy. SAP Internet Sales CRM Edition is completely integrated in the existing CRM processes and uses the existing mySAP CRM platform for master data or pricing, for example.
SEW Eurodrive’s customers can identify and order spare parts from Drivegate using the order BOM of a drive or using the individual parts lists. The individual parts lists also contain exploded drawings of the drives, which makes it even easier to find the right part, and thus reduces the number of incorrect orders. In addition, DriveGate can provide customers with information on the order status. The portal gives them a detailed overview of the processing status of their purchase order, and thanks to a link to the online services of the commissioned logistics company, customers can even track individual purchase order items online. Thus at all times, DriveGate provides customers with detailed information on when they can expect the spare parts to be delivered.

Patrick Ganzmann

Patrick Ganzmann

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