So what is this suite of standards all about? The key issue to bear in mind from the start is that organizations have been managing assets for a long time. In most organizations, there are enthusiastic and competent groups of engineers seeking to improve their assets and contribute to their business. However, for most of them, they are bombarded by initiatives for safety, the environment, cost reduction and a myriad of other important ideas. The trick to a successful organization is in bringing all of these well-intended initiatives together with excellent reliability engineering to deliver organizational value. And there lies the challenge for most organizations.
Back in 2004, BSI PAS55 defined a management system framework for asset management. It outlined a number of core themes that helped organizations to separate the ‘management of assets’ from ‘asset management.’ They included:
- Aligned objectives from senior management at the top of the organization down to the technicians working on the smallest assets.
- Transparent and consistent decisionmaking to better balance potentially conflicting demands for resources between asset groups, but also between initiatives that impact the assets, such as safety, the environment, corporate social responsibility and many others
- Using risk to help make those decisions so they are focused on delivering required organizational outcomes and managing the uncertainty associated with those outcomes.
- Balancing long-term asset needs with short-term business planning cycles.
These themes were structured into a management system that allowed organizations to embed good management of assets and good decision-making processes sustainably into the way they do things in their organization.
In late 2008, with BSI PAS55 growing in acceptance, the UK’s Institute of Asset Management, which had led the development of PAS55, started working to enhance international and cross-sectoral input to a series of international standards for asset management. This led to the formation of ISO/PC251 which, over the past three years, has brought together experts in asset management from 31 countries to develop its work.
ISO55000 AND GETTING TO GRIPS WITH VALUE
With ISO/PC251, the experts were charged with developing three international standards that would define a management system framework for asset management.
With BSI PAS55 being one of the core base documents, the aim of ISO/PC251 was to grow the understanding of what delivering asset management within an organization really means.
This raised a number of big questions at the outset:
- What do we mean by an asset?
- What do we mean by asset management?
- What do we mean by an asset management system?
- What do we mean by value?
On the face of it, these should be simple questions to answer, but when you lock 50 experts in a room to discuss these simple questions, they very quickly become more complex.
Figure 1 is extracted from the ISO55000 overview document and provides a view of how the management system framework sits when considered with the assets themselves and also the wider discipline of asset management.
So, let’s start with what an asset is and what constitutes value. If we look to ISO55000 , value is highlighted as one of the fundamentals of asset management. It goes on to highlight that asset management does not focus on the asset itself, but on the value that the asset can provide to the organization. It also makes a strong point that value can be tangible or intangible, financial or non-financial and the concept of value needs to be determined by the organization and its stakeholders. For example, value could be a straightforward need to deliver profit from an asset base, but if we consider the case of a municipal government looking after public parks, value could be defined as a mix of ambience, safety and low cost.
Note that at no point is ISO55000 saying that we have to have the most reliable assets or the greatest level of production. We need to be clear on what we are trying to achieve in terms of value and which assets we are trying to manage.
So what does ISO55000 say about assets? An asset in BSI PAS55 was very clearly a physical asset, but in ISO55000, the definition has been broadened to include any things that have the potential to add value to the organization. This very clearly still addresses physical assets (and indeed much of ISO55000 has been written from the perspective of physical assets), but could also include less tangible items, such as contracts, licenses, brands, or concession agreements. The word ‘physical’ has been deliberately removed so industries that are less focused on physical assets (for example, those with a high software content) will find it more relevant to them.
ISO55000 also reminds us that value can change during the lifecycle of an asset and that we need to consider the management of risks and liabilities, as well as opportunities throughout the lifecycle.
So you can start to see that ISO55000 has a broader view of assets and a stronger focus on delivering value. In fact, asset management has been defined as the activities that derive value from assets, which can be quite wide reaching. But in principle, the core themes that were successful in PAS55 have remained key elements of ISO55000, namely aligned objectives, transparent and consistent decision-making, and the use of risk and consideration of long lifecycle issues in making those decisions.
WHY IS ASSET MANAGEMENT MORE THAN JUST A MANAGEMENT SYSTEM?
In Figure 1, it is clear to see that ISO55000 is telling us that asset management is more than a management system. The definition of a management system at the beginning of this article defines it simply as a collection of processes and procedures. We might wish to refer to that as the parts of asset management that we can capture in a structured way to make them consistent and repeatable in a sustainable way.
This leaves lots of other elements of asset management still to be delivered by the organization and its leadership. ISO55000 highlights the following areas that are clearly important beyond the management system: Leadership, culture, information or knowledge about the asset base, to name but a few. It is important to remember that the ISO/PC251 group was tasked with developing international standards relating to management systems for asset management, so they didn’t seek to expound upon the whole discipline.
As such, it is important to remember that simply implementing ISO55000 will NOT solve all your asset management problems. In fact, my personal experience with organizations implementing an asset management approach who simply think that a collection of processes can solve their issues always results in failure. So, strong leadership, a developing culture that has asset knowledge at the core and good solid engineering are all important factors to keep in mind as you make your asset management journey.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE RELIABILITY ENGINEERING?
Assets are at the core of asset management and for those industries focused on physical assets, reliability engineering will remain a core element of their work. Just as good knowledge about assets and how they impact on delivering organizational objectives and managing organizational risk are key to good asset management, core competences of good reliability engineering remain key to successful asset management.
This invites the question of what additional value does asset management bring over and above good reliability engineering? For me, this is an easy question to answer. I have worked in so many organizations where engineering teams have not been provided with the necessary clarity on what they should be achieving. This results in enthusiastic and capable engineers trying to improve things in a world where they are fighting for resources among a myriad of other initiatives. It is not always possible to see how our reliability initiatives fit into the bigger picture, nor how we can defend our positions.
When combined with strong leadership and an emerging asset management culture, the management system framework defined by ISO55000 provides a structured view of what the organization is trying to achieve and how to balance things, like performance, the environment and safety, to achieve organizational value. As a reliability engineer, this gives us clarity on how to apply our skills within the wider business to not only communicate better with the rest of the organization, but ultimately achieve much better outcomes.
The enthusiasm that has developed for BSI PAS55 has already transferred and expanded to a much greater level for ISO55000. When it is published in early 2014, ISO55000 is going to impact our industries, particularly where we work in an international context or for multinational organizations. Asset management is not just reliability engineering re-badged, nor is ISO55000 the whole solution to the problem. However, good reliability engineering, coupled with good asset knowledge and strong leadership, can be combined with the management system processes defined by ISO55000 to make our lives much easier and allow us to deliver value more consistently.
Article originally published on reliabilityweb.com