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1:58 pm
May 16, 2014
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What Does ISO 55000 Mean To You?

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The new asset-management  standard is not on everyone’s radar, but a new poll of MT readers reveals surprising early interest in its potential.

By Rick Carter, Executive Editor

An April poll of MT readers—detailed below­—indicates that while not all maintenance professionals are aware of the new ISO 55000 asset-management standard, recognition for it and interest in its implementation are strong for a standard released less than six months ago. About a third of the survey’s 248 respondents say they are either very or somewhat familiar with ISO 55000—officially released in January—and some 8% already have plans to implement it. Significantly, about 18% say they hope to implement it, despite a lack of solid plans.

Those unfamiliar with the long path standards must follow to become officially sanctioned by the Switzerland-based International Organization for Standardization (ISO) may view 55000’s acceptance level as less than noteworthy. But slow acceptance for a time- and resource-intensive project like a standard implementation is not unusual. The fact that ISO completed technical reviews for ISO 55000 (see sidebar) and inducted it into its well-regarded family of operational standards is noteworthy in its own right. For those who choose to adopt it, ISO 55000 offers a well-defined path to better asset performance. It’s now up to the world’s businesses to learn this for themselves, and act accordingly.

ISO standards, of course, are neither industry-specific nor mandated by governmental bodies. Nonetheless, manufacturing operations in many industries as well as many non-manufacturing businesses have had great success following ISO-standard guidelines in quality assurance (9000), environmental management (14000), food safety (22000), and even social responsibility (26000) and sustainability (20121). The key to long-term success with any ISO standard is to maintain an operation’s procedures as prescribed by the standard, and stay current with updates. While the written standards for ISO 55000 and others are available for purchase through ISO (at iso.org), only qualified third parties—usually consulting firms, but never ISO itself—can certify or recertify an operation for a given standard. The same third parties are often called upon to assist with implementation, though this is not required. Today, however, many commercial sectors do require ISO certification in one or more standards as a prerequisite for doing business. There’s no reason why ISO 55000 will not be viewed similarly as its value becomes better known in manufacturing and beyond.

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The fact that 31% are either “somewhat” or “very” familiar with ISO 55000 is a strong indicator of this standard’s eventual possible impact on industry. More education and communication are needed, as other responses indicate. The 36% who say they know only the ISO 55000 name (not the details) are somewhat farther along this process than the 32% who are unaware of it.

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The 8% of respondents who indicate ISO 55000 implementation is either ongoing or planned is a second sign of relatively quick uptake of ISO 55000 goals. The remainder of the group is nearly evenly divided between those who hope to implement it or say they need more information before doing so (48%) and those without plans to implement (44%). Of all survey responses, these are likely to shift the most over the next 12 months. 

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Despite the fact that ISO 55000 is not about maintenance, it’s not surprising that maintenance emerges as the strongest champion for it. Not only can the use of ISO 55000 in manufacturing help the maintenance department do a more thorough job, maintenance is the most likely group outside of management to fully grasp this standard’s possibilities. (It must also be noted that our sample is naturally weighted with members of the maintenance community, a factor whose significance cannot be known without more extensive polling.) The high percentage of “don’t knows” only confirms that communication and education about ISO 55000 is still in the early stages.

What does your organization hope to accomplish by implementing ISO 55000?

This open-ended question was directed to those who are implementing, plan to implement or hope to implement ISO 55000. Their responses indicate that most understand the concept and reasons for ISO 55000, though some dismiss the standard as a benefit only to consultants. Here’s a sampling of what respondents believe ISO 55000 can (and cannot) do for them:

— “Higher production availability, lower production delays.”

— “Nothing. I believe ISO 55000 is a waste of time and effort. It’s a marketing scam by consulting groups.”

— “Improve the ROI and ROA.”

— “We’ll just be spending a lot of money on consultants.”

— “This is pure bull. ISO 55000 is not designed to help business, but to have searchable databases for other uses, none of which will help.”

— “It will help us align our current Comprehensive Asset Management Plan with international standards.” 

— “Improved asset management that will migrate beyond PAS 55.”

— “As a smaller manufacturer, we cannot afford the staff or effort to create paper that would NOT be used.”

— “Help us extract maximum value from the assets that are part of the portfolio within the management system.”

— “It will give us a more defined asset-management system with a structured way of improvement and understanding.”

— “More efficient organization and better use of all resources, human, information, technical and financial. A chance to apply world-class asset management.”

— “It will lower maintenance costs.”

— “A better-running facility overall.”

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These responses validate the role trade publications like Maintenance Technology play in educating their audiences about developments that have the potential to impact their jobs in a positive way. ISO 55000 is no exception. Its basic tenets, like those of other ISO standards, further the goals every operation should want to have. These include standardized work practices, reduced variation and acknowledgement that true efficiency occurs when all departments work as a cohesive team. Can implementation of ISO 55000 help your operation reach these and other important goals? The experts say yes. MT

About the Survey

The MT Survey on ISO 55000 was conducted by e-mail over two days in mid-April. Two successive e-mail blasts were delivered to approximately the same group of 51,000 names, which resulted in 261 total responses. Respondents represent a cross-sample of MT readership. 

ISO 55000: A Refresher

Released in January 2014, ISO 55000 is based on the 10-year-old PAS (Publicly Available Specification) 55 created by the British Standards Institution. A highlight of PAS 55 is its 28-point checklist of best practices for the management of any type of physical asset important to an operation of any type. Manufacturers, utilities, railroads and similar operations were considered the chief beneficiaries. The architects of ISO 55000 expanded PAS 55’s concept of “asset” to include both the tangible equipment used in an enterprise as well as intangible elements of value, such as a company’s brand or reputation. At the same time, they de-emphasized the “how-to” aspect of PAS 55 in favor of a guidelines format—a new approach for ISO—that essentially helps users manage an asset-management system. And while ISO 55000 references the general role maintenance plays in the asset-management process, it is not a maintenance standard. 

ISO 55000 embraces the philosophy that anything with income-producing value for a business enterprise will deteriorate if neglected. And while the actions taken to maintain different types of assets may differ, “all will benefit from long-term plans and strategies,” states ISO chairperson Rhys Davis in an online interview. Davis  believes a specific asset-management plan like ISO 55000 adds a much-needed dimension to standard business strategy by “forcing us to get to know our assets much better.” The intended result is a defined method for ensuring asset longevity, which leads to improved decision-making and better overall performance. The fact that users may opt to certify only one or a few assets at a time instead of an entire enterprise is a helpful consideration for asset-intensive operations like those in manufacturing.

To learn more about the value of ISO 55000 in the manufacturing environment, see MT Contributing Editor Bob Williamson’s “Uptime” columns on the subject in the “Management” section at maintenancetechnology.com. For an overview of the purpose, benefits and scope of ISO 55000 (and its related ISO 55001 and 55002  components), visit the Online Browsing Platform at iso.org.

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