SAP's Work Clearance Management component has grown to a powerful, flexible and stable product. We would like to highlight the following milestones in its roughly 30-year history, or rather not to forget them:
Our largest Scandinavian project customer from the utilities industry went live with SAP's Work Clearance Management component in two plants in the fall of 2022. The aim of the project was, among others, to replace the heavily modified SAP solution previously used in one plant and to return as far as possible to the standard that SAP has since extensively expanded and generalized.
Our largest project customer worldwide (steel industry) is now productive with SAP's Work Clearance Management component in 17 plants, spread over two continents. The solution, which was tailored exactly to the customer's needs, was continuously individualized over several releases, with the underlying enhancement of the standard processes being completely realized by using WCM customizing and WCM BAdI interfaces. In particular, no modification of the SAP standard took place.
In customer projects over the last few years, the requirement has arisen in some cases to combine individual process steps in Plant Maintenance and Work Clearance Management individually and to be able to control them accordingly by means of a comprehensive cockpit, either for individual orders or (e.g. during a revision) a mass of orders. This resulted in new requirements regarding both the available WCM BAdI interfaces plus the functionality of the WCM APIs, which are now fully covered within SAP standard (Enhancement Package 8 for SAP ERP 6.0 or SAP S/4 HANA 1909).
Note: Said cockpit is not part of SAP standard (so far), since requirements regarding process design and UI are highly customer-specific.
As part of the "fiorization" of the entire WebDynpro application EAM Worker Safety, direct access to work permits and safety certificates was provided, both for the SAP NetWeaver Business Client (menu entries) and for the SAP Fiori Launchpad ("tiles"). In addition, not only the maintenance and processing of the operationally required work permits and safety certificates are now supported, but also the maintenance of the underlying template libraries (enhancement package 8 for SAP ERP 6.0 or SAP S/4 HANA 1809 respectively).
To open SAP’s Work Clearance Management component for other modern interface technologies (such as mobile applications, Fiori Apps) in addition to SAPGUI and WebDynpro, WCM APIs were provided for maintaining and processing all WCM objects (enhancement package 7 for SAP ERP 6.0 or SAP S/4 HANA 1610 respectively).
EhP6 customers, especially from the utilities industry, soon requested the WebDynpro application EAM Worker Safety to also support the classic lockout/tagout processes. To fulfill these market requirements, the safety certificates subordinate to the work permits were extended to include items for switching technical objects (enhancement package 7 for SAP ERP 6.0 or SAP S/4 HANA 1511 respectively).
A remaining challenge posed with maintenance tasks which require work permits is the immediate delivery of safety information to maintenance workers who have to perform the tasks which are permitted. To this aim, a WebDynpro-based solution was required, enhancing the communication of safety information to the maintenance worker by delivering WebDynpro-based access from the work order to all necessary safety information, including the assigned work permits (EAM Worker Safety, available as of enhancement package 6 for SAP ERP 6.0).
In SAP's Work Clearance Management component, a safety application assigned to an order (e.g. work clearance application) was always valid for the whole duration of the related safety-relevant maintenance work; the sequential assignment of several safety applications (e.g. each of them valid on a daily basis only) to the maintenance order was not supported. Similar restrictions applied (at least in the WCM standard model) if safety applications were to be separated according to semantic criteria (e.g. radiation protection, fire protection) or risk evaluations (e.g. high risk, normal risk).
Such scenarios are exactly where the new process of Working with Work Permits comes into play; this process supports the direct assignment of several safety applications to the order, separated according to validity, semantic criteria or risk evaluations. The support of such scenarios is representing a decisive factor for the transition process of Work Clearance Management from a rather Utilities-driven component to a generalized work permit system which is meant to be broadly applicable across industries (enhancement package 5 for SAP ERP 6.0).
Due to customer requirements particularly from the nuclear industry sector, SAP's Work Clearance Management component was enhanced with the so-called lineups that are used to verify or adapt the operational position of technical objects on site; for example, an adaptation might be necessary when changing the operation mode of the asset (enhancement package 4 for SAP ERP 6.0).
Note: For a given operation mode, the expected operational positions of the technical objects are determined based on the master data for mode-dependent tagging.
As a result of strong demand for enhancements to the Work Clearance Management component, a number of Business Add-Ins (BAdIs) were developed. BAdIs enable customers to implement their own, individual enhancements without changing the standard programs (enhancement package 3 for SAP ERP 6.0).
The Work Clearance Management component was enhanced with the addition of a mobile application. This enables you to process operational lists on site using mobile devices (SAP ERP 6.0).
A fundamental change in the strategy of the R/3 release lead to R/3 being split into R/3 Enterprise Core (ECC) and Enterprise Extension Sets. The Work Clearance Management component became part of the PLM extension set. The first extension set saw the development of an interface to connect a graphic WCM planning tool for lockout/tagout (SAP R/3 Enterprise PLM Extension 1.1).
Due to growing demand from customers in other industries, SAP's Work Clearance Management component was integrated into the standard R/3 solution (R/3 4.6C).
As R/3 became more and more popular, the number of SAP customers worldwide grew and customers began looking for an integrated R/3 solution for Work Clearance Management. Together with pilot customers from Belgium (Electrabel), Sweden (Ringhals), Spain (Iberdrola), and the U.S. (PSE&G), SAP developed the Work Clearance Management (ISU-WCM 1.0) component as an R/3 industry solution.
In 1990, SAP teamed up with the Spanish electricity distributor, Iberdrola, to start work on a customer project for Work Clearance Management. Iberdrola, which was already an SAP customer at the time, enquired about software for its nuclear power plants. As part of this project, SAP and Iberdrola developed a customer solution of Work Clearance Management that was based on release R/2 5.0. The development was subsequently integrated into the standard processes of Plant Maintenance (R/2 RM-INST).