Use Case Scenario
As you saw in the video, the quality planner uses an inspection plan to define how the goods receipt inspection - for example, for purchased or produced materials - must be executed. The quality planner also uses inspection plans to define recurring inspections for batches and stock transfer inspections. The inspection plan outlines how the quality technician must conduct a quality inspection.
Defining an Inspection Plan
In the following figure, you see three materials assigned to a single inspection plan, meaning that they are inspected in the same manner. Materials 1234, 1235, and 1236 could be different variants of an LED light bulb purchased from a supplier. If the warehouse clerk posts a goods receipt for a sales order item containing any of the three materials, the created inspection lot contains the same inspection plan. The quality technician performs a consistent quality inspection.
By assigning multiple materials to one inspection plan, you can reduce the number of inspection plans in the system. If any changes are needed in the goods receipt quality inspection, such as adding an additional inspection characteristic, only the quality planner must modify one plan, affecting the quality inspection for all three materials.
The following lead questions help you as a quality planner defining or updating an inspection plan.
Which material is to be inspected?
The quality planner assigns one or more materials to one inspection plan to define the quality inspection that will be executed by the quality technician. If several materials are inspected the same way, the quality planner assigns all these materials to the same plan. Otherwise, the quality planner assigns each material to its own plan.
What are the inspection steps?
The quality planner defines inspection steps in the inspection plan to structure the quality inspection from an organizational or logical point of view. For example, you can define one inspection step for the visual inspection and another inspection step for the functional test. To each inspection step, the quality planner assigns the inspection characteristics that must be checked to perform the respective inspection step. In our example, visual inspection includes a surface check for scratches and other visual defects whereas the functional test includes measurements like power consumption of an electrical device.
What is to be inspected?
The quality planner defines all quantitative and qualitative items that must be checked by the quality technician as inspection characteristics. Inspection characteristics are, for example, surface check, check for visual defects, power consumption, concentration, pH value, and so on.
How is the inspection to be performed?
Often, the same characteristic can be measured in multiple ways or using various methods. For example, you could measure the length with a foot rule or using a laser measuring device. In other cases, the way how a property is measured depends on the material under investigation. For example, if you must measure the water content of soil or the water content of an organic solvent, you would use different analytical methods. The "how" can be assigned as inspection method to each inspection characteristic in the inspection plan.
Which test equipment do you need?
In the previous example, the quality technician used either a foot rule or a laser measuring device to determine the length. These devices are modeled as test equipment in the SAP S/4HANA system and the quality planner assigns them to the inspection characteristic if a test equipment is required. The assignment has the advantage that the quality technicians know which test equipment to use to execute a measurement. Furthermore, the SAP S/4HANA system logs the test equipment used for which test so that, if there are issues with a measuring device, a where-used list exists and you can easily track which measurements were executed using that device. A test equipment could also correspond to a document that explains how a measurement must be executed in detail (→ Standard Operating Procedure).
Where is the inspection to take place?
Different inspection steps can be performed in different labs or at different work centers. If the quality planner wants to define which inspection step is to be executed where, they assign a work center to an inspection step. Later, if the quality technician retrieves the work list of inspections they must execute from the system, they can limit the search to the work center that is relevant to them.
Structuring an Inspection Plan
Using the previously outlined lead questions, the quality planner defines an inspection plan in the SAP S/4HANA system. The following figure illustrates the technical structure of the inspection plan master data object and where the quality planner maintains the chosen information.
Let us explore the structure of an inspection plan with a practical example: you want to define a goods receipt inspection for LED lamps that you procure from a supplier.
As you can see in the figure, there are two inspection plans: inspection plan 1 and inspection plan 2. In our example, inspection plan 2 is used for the procurement of LED lamps 5 Watt. Inspection plan 1 could be used for the procurement of LED lamps 10 Watt. For organizational purposes, the quality planner can group different inspection plans together in an inspection plan group. In our example, all procurement inspection plans for LED lamps are grouped together in one inspection plan group to find them more easy in the system.
On the left of the figure, you can also identify the structure of one inspection plan: Each inspection plan contains one inspection plan header. Below each header, there can be as many inspection operations as required. In the example, the header contains two inspection operations. Below each inspection operation, there can be as many inspection characteristics as required to define an inspection step.
In our example of inspection plan 2, you want to execute a functional test and a visual inspection. The functional test consists of the measurement of the power consumption to ensure that the supplier delivered the correct LED lamps. The visual inspection consists of a check by the quality technician for superficial damage. In the SAP S/4HANA system, the quality planner defines the following inspection plan data:
- Inspection plan header:
On the header, the quality planner assigned the material number of the LED lamp.
- Inspection operation:
The quality planner defined two inspection operations, functional test and visual inspection.
- Inspection characteristic:
The quality planner defined two inspection characteristics: 1. Are there any superficial damages? The expected result is yes or no. This characteristic is assigned to the visual inspection operation. 2. What is the power consumption? The expected result is a numeric value in Watt. This characteristic is assigned to the functional test.
On the right side of the figure, you see which level of the inspection plan is influenced by which of the lead questions. Some examples are as follows:
The inspection plan header contains, for example, the material to be inspected and the supplier. The supplier information is only relevant for inspection plans that are used in procurement. You might for example purchase the same material from different suppliers and want to execute a different quality inspection for each supplier as you know that two different suppliers usually have different quality issues that are only detected when you execute a specific test. In this case, the quality planner defines two different inspection plans for the combination of material A / supplier B and material A / supplier C. Depending on which supplier you purchase material A from, the system automatically selects one or the other inspection plan.
Each inspection operation corresponds to a logical inspection step and a work center. By defining inspection steps and assigning them to work centers, the quality planner logically structures the quality inspection and takes care that the quality technician always finds the inspections that are to be executed at their work center.
Each inspection-relevant item corresponds to an inspection characteristic. If the quality planner wants to specify how an inspection is to be executed, they assign a method and, if required, a test equipment.