Author Archive | Bob Williamson


4:35 pm
May 16, 2016
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Uptime: Rules, Standards, And Mainstream 2016

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

The Eventful Group, Syracuse, NY, is hosting another U.S. Mainstream Conference this month. If past installments of this series are any indication, Mainstream 2016 in The Woodlands, TX (Houston) will exceed expectations. Scheduled for May 22 to 25, its focus blends maintenance with operations and reliability and offers opportunities for all professionals in our arena to learn what’s new, validate what we’re already doing, and network with peers (and would-be peers) for a continuing dialogue. From a personal standpoint, the photo of a Formula 1 (F1) racecar on the cover of the conference brochure is what sparked this “Uptime” column.

Some readers may be familiar with my NASCAR race-team studies and how the findings permeate my teachings. NASCAR’s approach to racing, however, varies greatly from that of Formula 1. The two motorsports organizations have vastly different rules when it comes to designing, building, operating, and maintaining vehicles that compete in their respective circuits. Such rules serve as “standards” for how things get done in these arguably dissimilar racing businesses and, accordingly, help explain why a 2.3-sec. pit stop in F1 and a 10.5-sec. pit stop in NASCAR can both be considered superior. That said, let’s think about rules in today’s workplace and how they restrict or ensure the way things get done.

Work rules

We see work rules defining what’s allowed and what’s not in countless plants. Many have evolved over time to improve safety and quality, control costs, and protect jobs. Some are based on regulatory requirements (safety, environmental, employment), others on certification compliance (ISO 9000, ISO 14001, ISO 55000). Over time, some are redefined to recognize new realities. Others simply preserve historical practices, leading to a “we’ve always done it that way” mindset.

Paraphrasing the Outback Steakhouse chain, let’s consider a “no rules, just right” work environment. In the worlds of manufacturing, maintenance, and facilities, “no rules” would surely imply that chaos prevails—which could never be a prescription for business success. Still, there’s a nugget hidden in plain sight in this mantra. The word “right” says it all. My thesaurus says “right” means “just, fair, correct, accurate, precise, exact, valid, established, official, absolute.” To me, these synonyms indicate there must be a rule that defines what is correct, as opposed to an implied wrong. Thus, for the sake of consistency in a “no rules, just right” work environment, we would embed standardized definitions of what right is and “how we do it here.”

On the other hand, when we consider work rules as standards for job performance, we can approach things a bit differently. If we keep thinking of such rules only as a way to preserve the status quo, we miss an opportunity to use them to promote and preserve continuous improvement. In today’s markets, new rules and standards are requirements for success in many business sectors.

New rules, just right

Standardized work, a fundamental element of continuous improvement, is often seen as restricting individual best practices. Frequently, it’s perceived as an infringement on “how I have done my work here for years.”

There are, however, thousands of examples where standardized work is successful—including in F1 and NASCAR racing. Looking closely at these motorsports, it’s clear that standardized work isn’t exclusive to their race teams’ pit crews. It permeates all phases of work, at all levels in the organizations. Some standardized work is based on conforming to the regulations of the sport. Some is devoted to preserving a best practice or proven method. And, some is leveraged in driving a relentless pursuit of perfection, i.e., 100% reliability from the way racecars are engineered to the way they are built, operated, and maintained. After all, without policies, standards, and a desire to look for better ways of doing things, we would still be living in caves and making fires to stay warm and cook   our food.

The crux of the matter—in motorsports and other industry sectors—is about more than just looking for a better way. It’s about creating the expectation of what, where, and why to improve, as well as providing the necessary resources, and having a standardized work process in place to guide such improvements. This is the responsibility of top-level management.

Leadership’s huge role

Keep in mind that where there’s no standard, there’s no improvement—only attempts to organize chaos to temporarily minimize penalizing effects. This is why support from the top is so important.

Leadership is a critical success factor in the quest for standardizing a best practice or the way we make sustainable improvements. Management plays a huge role by leading the way to business success, improving the quality of work life, and creating expectation of continuous improvement. Standardization at all levels, in turn, guides how work and improvements are accomplished. A plan and a process for continuous improvement, whether guided by a business policy, a strategic plan, or business goals, must also be standardized.

Continuous improvement should result in benefits to the business and the employees. Leading continuous improvement from the very top of the organization keeps the efforts focused on the needs of the business. Engaging employees in the improvement of their work processes benefits them, as well as the business.

Continuous-improvement leadership, from the very top levels to the front lines of an organization, requires a set of habits that engages employees in their quest for improvement. Leaders do just that: They lead people. But leaders must also manage the process of continuous improvement in the organization. A continuous-improvement work culture, based on standardized work, cannot be delegated to a facilitator, a consultant, or a department of continuous improvement. This form of delegation often results in a predominance of improvement events rather than a sustainable improvement culture.

Suggestions for conference attendees

For readers who are attending Mainstream 2016 in The Woodlands, TX — or any upcoming technical conferences around the world for that matter, Mainstream or otherwise — I offer these standardized work-process suggestions:

  • Share who you are, what you do, and what you know.
  • Learn something new that could improve your workplace, your job, and your mindset.
  • Share what you learned with your peers and your leaders, then give it a try. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and a member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the people-side of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at


6:53 pm
April 12, 2016
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Uptime: Asset Reliability and Costs — Take a Life-Cycle Approach

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Fundamental, early-design-phase decisions set the stage for life-cycle asset reliability and costs in plants. How new physical assets, i.e., equipment, systems, and facilities, are designed can be a testament to engineering prowess and/or observing the awesome, life-long performance of other assets—or neither. In many cases, though, budgetary constraints and construction/installation shortcuts can limit reliability and increase life-cycle costs. The result is high periods of unreliable operation, added maintenance, and modifications and workarounds to make the assets perform as needed.

What if the elements of life-cycle asset reliability and costs are unknown, not addressed, or ignored in initial-project conceptual definition and design? Chances are pretty good that reliability, operating and maintenance budgets, and planned asset life would all be a huge gamble. While the project could come in on schedule and under budget, is that what defines business success?

Conversely, what if there were an overall template or a management system that outlined and specified all elements important to the business, short- and long-term, over an asset’s life cycle? Chances are pretty good that the reliability, operating and maintenance costs, and planned life of the equipment, system, or facility would contribute, by any measure, to business success.

Here are five big questions to help us begin thinking about establishing a life-cycle physical-asset management system. Use them with your site’s top-management team, engineering group, and/or operations and maintenance leadership.

  1. What are your physical assets supposed to do in support of the organization’s goals?
  2. What physical assets put the achievement of the organization’s goals most at risk?
  3. What processes are in place to assure that these physical assets perform as expected throughout their planned life cycle?
  4. What processes are missing that may be preventing these physical assets from performing as expected throughout their planned life cycle?
  5. What are the life-cycle physical-asset management processes that should be established to guarantee the answer to the first question (“organization’s goals”) is predictably and consistently assured?

This is exactly what the ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard is asking organizations to define: an asset-management system that covers the entire life cycle of physical assets.

According to ISO 55000:2014, “An asset-management system is a set of interrelated and interacting elements of an organization, whose function is to establish the asset-management policy and asset-management objectives, and the processes, needed to achieve those objectives. An asset-management system is used by the organization to direct, coordinate and control asset-management activities.” (ISO 55000:2008, 2.4.3 & 2.5.1)

With such a system in place, a project team would be responsible for executing and held accountable each step of the way for assuring that the organization’s goals are met—even with regard to its most-at-risk physical assets.

compressor station to deliver water for iron ore beneficiation

The life-cycle reliability and costs of equipment, systems, and facilities are essentially set by decisions made during the early design phases of these assets.

Life-cycle reliability

From a reliability and cost perspective, the life cycle of a physical asset can be divided and sub-divided into numerous phases and activities. For purposes of simplicity and brevity, let’s highlight four major ones and look at elements of each that have a direct impact on cost and reliability.

Project Design Phase. Management of a new physical-asset project, be it related to equipment, systems, or facilities, requires a team of highly qualified and specialized thinkers to focus on the foundations for life-cycle reliability and costs. The project-team leadership must understand and internalize “life-cycle thinking” throughout the Project-Design phase. Remember, 95% of life-cycle costs are determined during this phase (“Uptime,” March 2016 MT).

In this phase, life-cycle reliability- and cost-critical elements required to assure the new design will perform as expected include:

  • goals of the organization, i.e., financial (P&L), longevity of the assets, go/no-go criteria
  • operations concept, maintenance concept, technical/automation/software concepts, personnel/staffing levels, financial targets
  • management activities, i.e., project management, engineering design, construction, installation, start-up/commissioning, operations, maintenance, purchasing, logistics, spare parts, training
  • engineering design, operability engineering reviews, maintainability engineering reviews, reliability engineering reviews
  • documentation, i.e., detailed engineering drawings, diagrams, schematics, specifications, and calibrations.

(Note: Given the activities in the Design Phase listed above, it is essential that top-level operations and maintenance management be involved.)

Acquisition-Construction Phase. The Acquisition-construction phase involves putting the detailed design into action from procurement to building and installation to startup/commissioning. A number of the activities that influence this phase were initially defined in and influenced by the Design Phase. The Acquisition-Construction Phase is strengthened by the involvement of operations, industrial engineering, and maintenance plant-floor leadership.

In this phase, life-cycle reliability- and cost-critical elements required to assure the new design will perform as expected include:

  • design engineering handoff to industrial, manufacturing, and plant engineering personnel
  • construction, installation, start-up/commissioning
  • identification of pre-startup maintenance requirements
  • development of operations and maintenance work methods
  • definitions of job skills and knowledge requirements
  • production control, maintenance control systems (CMMS, EAM)
  • plant engineering, maintenance, spare parts, QA/QC, material handling, training facilities
  • critical spare parts, consumables, inventory levels, management systems
  • documentation, i.e., detailed machine drawings, diagrams, schematics, specifications, calibrations, operations instructions, maintenance and repair instructions, troubleshooting charts, bills of materials
  • initial workforce recruiting, screening, hiring, on-boarding, training.

Operation-Maintenance Phase. This is the longest asset life-cycle phase. While the Project and Construction Phases may have been successful, it is the Operation-Maintenance Phase that proves the concept over and over again. This is also the phase where the asset-management system endures.

In this phase, life-cycle reliability- and cost-critical elements required to assure the new design will perform as expected include:

  • on-going workforce development, i.e., recruiting, screening, hiring, on-boarding, training standards
  • maintenance and repair work processes, i.e., planned, preventive, predictive, overhaul, repair, unplanned repair standards
  • spare-parts management, inventory-control standards
  • data acquisition, analysis, reporting systems standards.

Decommissioning-Disposal-Restoration Phase. Think of this as an end-of-life phase that encompasses decisions and actions regarding the next steps for the assets. It can be as involved as decommissioning and disposal of hazardous materials and facilities or as simple as surplus or scrap sales. There may also be cases where the assets or sub-components and major equipment items can be reconditioned, restored, or repurposed.

Where are you now?

Life-cycle reliability, costs, and asset management are all highly interrelated and interconnected. That said, achieving your organization’s business goals in a consistent manner is dependent on an asset-management system that establishes and deploys the policy and objectives—along with the processes necessary to achieve those objectives.

Planning new projects? Great: You’re in the Project-Design or Acquisition-Construction Phases.

Already in the Operation-Maintenance Phase? Don’t worry: It’s not too late to begin your life-cycle asset management journey. Pay attention to the elements listed for this phase. In the meantime, look back at elements of the previous phases and begin fleshing them out with an effective asset-management system in mind. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and a member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the people-side of maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at


7:18 pm
April 11, 2016
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ISO 55000: Grab These Asset Management Resources


By Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Details of the ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard continue to spread. To recap: In the maintenance and reliability arena, “assets” are typically physical, i.e., equipment, systems, processes, facilities, buildings, and so forth. True life-cycle management of such assets, through their development and deployment, operation and maintenance, and eventual decommissioning, is an organization-wide endeavor led from the top. As maintenance and reliability professionals, our role should be to coach peers and upper management on the breadth and depth of this pursuit. This month’s “Uptime” column discusses some critical elements that must be considered to achieve reliability and cost goals over the life of an asset.

Fortunately, resources to help us understand associated concepts and activities are within our grasp—online. The following three documents are good examples. Used together, they can help decision-makers understand the fundamentals and requirements of ISO 55000.

Asset Management Anatomy

The Institute of Asset Management (IAM), Bristol, UK, developed the Asset Management Anatomy (v. 3, Dec. 2015) to provide an appreciation of asset management: What it is, what it can achieve, the scope of the discipline, and descriptions of the underlying concepts and philosophy. Readers will find this publication especially helpful in growing their own understanding of the field, as well as in introducing a new way of thinking about asset-management systems in the context of entire value-producing-resource life-cycles. Among other things, sections/topics include:

  • asset-management models and management system
  • why does asset management matter
  • who does asset management
  • asset management subjects.

IAM Members and Affiliates can download the Anatomy document for free. Non-members will need to become Affiliates (at no charge) to download the PDF. Learn more at

Asset Management Landscape

Published by the Global Forum on Maintenance and Asset Management (GFMAM), Zurich, the Asset Management Landscape (2nd Edition, Mar. 2014) is a tool that promotes a common global approach. It includes a number of conceptual models, a list of asset-management subjects and principles, and a framework for describing best practices, maturity, and standards. Among other things, sections include:

  • components of the knowledge and practices area
  • asset-management fundamentals
  • GFMAM asset-management landscape subjects
  • asset-management concepts and models.

Download the publication for free at

IAM Self-Assessment Methodology

The ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard could play a major role in industry in the coming years. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this Standard at

The ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard could play a major role in industry in the coming years. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this Standard at

The Self Assessment Methodology (SAM) (v. 2.0, SAM+, June 2015) allows organizations to assess their capability across either the 28 elements of BSI PAS 55:2008 or the 27 sub-clauses of ISO 55001:2014, including strengths and weaknesses, deficiencies, and areas of excellence. It provides considerable insight into the development of action plans for asset-management improvement, and also lets organizations track such improvements.

This SAM is divided into two parts: “General Guidance Notes” and an Excel spreadsheet “SAM Tool” (SAM+). The tool provides assessment results based on an IAM Maturity Group scale of 0 to 3 (the level of compliance with ISO 55001). Among other things, sections/topics include:

  • context and objectives of the SAM+ tool
  • users and usage of the SAM+ tool
  • questions, Level 3 criteria, and associated guidance
  • alignment of questions with BSI PAS 55:2008
  • alignment of questions with ISO 55001:2014
  • alignment of Level 3 criteria with the asset-management landscape.

Download the SAM “General Guidance Notes” document for free from the IAM website. The “SAM Tool” (SAM+) is available only to paying IAM members. Learn more at MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and a member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the people-side of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact:


4:25 pm
March 18, 2016
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Uptime: Reliability’s ‘Chicken Or Egg’ Question

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Discussions about life-cycle asset management and curiosity about the ISO 55000 Asset Management Standard have been growing since its launch in January 2014. While we are anticipating how this standard will affect decision making regarding the life cycles of an organization’s assets, we already know top management plays a key role (see “Uptime,” Feb. 2016). But, top management is only the leadership component.

Only the leadership component? What an understatement. Organizational culture is determined by leadership—either by design or by default. For most traditional organizations, transitioning from a typical project-based investment in new equipment and facilities to a life-cycle-centric, risk-based, asset-management culture requires highly focused, decisive, real-world leadership from the very top of the organization.

ISO 55000 defines asset management as the “coordinated activity of an organization to realize value from assets.” Two key words from that definition should resonate with us: “coordinated” and “organization.” Any meaningful coordinated activity requires a reliable organization. This approach is dramatically different from the traditional project phase, followed by a loosely connected operations-maintenance phase, i.e., an unreliable organization.

Asset management requires reliable equipment and reliable people in a reliable organization. Think about it. “Reliable equipment performs as intended, without failure, under stated operating conditions, for a specified period of time.” Reliability, though, is often expressed as mean time between failures (MTBF). People and organizations must be aligned with the goal of reliable equipment to increase the MTBF.

We know that equipment, systems, and facilities are all physical assets that must perform reliably to minimize their operating and maintenance costs and ensure long and productive service. Well then, what about the desired performance of an organization and its people?

Is it possible to have equipment consistently perform as intended if the people that operate and maintain it are inconsistent or unreliable?

Is it possible to have people consistently perform at the intended level if the organization has unclear, inconsistent, and unreliable standards and, therefore, behaviors?

We’ve had technologies to improve equipment reliability for decades. But true reliability has proven to be elusive whenever the root cause of unreliability isn’t addressed. For example, because reliability isn’t designed in—because operability and maintainability aren’t designed in—shortcuts and workarounds are often deployed to the best possible equipment performance.

Because 95% of life-cycle cost is determined at the design stage, and upward of 75% of those costs are attributable to operational and maintenance activities (Blanchard, 1978), organizations and people have to play a huge role in life-cycle cost and reliability of an asset. This is why life-cycle asset management continues to be an essential business-success factor for enterprises that depend on physical assets (equipment, systems, and facilities) to achieve their goals.

As also discussed in the Feb. 2016 installment of this column, various holistic equipment-management strategies since the early 1970s point to the need for organization-wide, life-cycle spanning, and coordinated activities. With few exceptions, however, the emphasis on people fell through the cracks: Why? Organizations typically had large numbers of skilled and knowledgeable people on staff. Vocational-education programs trained some of the best and brightest skilled crafts and trades. People weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to make a decent living. And the growth of technology was relatively slow, compared with the exponential explosion of the past 20 years.

ISO 55000 defines an asset as “an item, thing, or entity that has potential or actual value to an organization.” At this point in our industrial/business evolution, and given the ISO 55000 definition of an asset, I consider an organization and the people within it to be assets.

Think ‘systemic reliability’

Organizations and people are destined to be the most important components of physical-asset management in our increasingly competitive marketplace with its rapidly transportable and growing technologies. Given that belief, now is the time to think more systemically about asset life-cycle performance and costs.

Equipment (asset)-performance reliability:

  • The asset must be designed, built, installed, started up, operated, maintained, and decommissioned or restored, according to specifications and life-cycle cost goals.
  • Failure and/or functional failure must be defined for each asset.
  • Operating conditions, duty cycle (operating duration) must be specified.
  • Planned service life (period of time) must be specified.

Organizational-performance reliability:

  • The organization must be designed, staffed, started up, operated, maintained, and improved, according to specifications and employee life-cycle plans.
  • Organization goals, objectives, vision, purpose, guiding principles, and values must be defined.
  • Work processes, methods, and procedures must be specified (standardized).
  • Constancy of purpose toward improvement (Deming) must be established.

Human-performance (people) reliability:

  • Employees must be recruited, selected, hired, on boarded, trained, qualified, deployed, improved, and transitioned according to specifications and life-cycle plans.
  • Employees’ roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined and communicated.
  • Job training and on-job performance-qualification processes must be specified (standardized).
  • Periodic re-training and performance qualification cycles must be established.

Chicken or egg?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The question is perplexing because a chicken is a living organism that hatched from an egg from a chicken from an egg… We have a similar conundrum when it comes to reliability: Which comes first, reliable equipment, reliable people, or reliable organizations?

For the most part, we know what reliable equipment is supposed to do. We can also measure its reliability in terms of MTBF. But, shouldn’t that same thinking apply to organizations and people? From a life-cycle asset-management perspective, we should be able to define what the organization looks like and what it is supposed to do—and then define when it fails to perform its intended function. Again, measured in terms of MTBF.

When people fail to perform as intended, we are inclined to call it human error. It’s more complicated than that, however. Reliable organizations must have specific methods for determining the root causes of human error to achieve the goal of flawless human performance. Human-induced failures can also be measured in terms of MTBF.

So, it’s not about reliable equipment, or people, or organizations. It’s really about reliable equipment AND people AND organizations. Share your thoughts with me. MT


Blanchard, Benjamin S., Design and Manage to Life Cycle Cost, M/A Press, 1978, Oregon.

Deming, W. Edwards, Out of the Crisis, MIT Press, 1986 (reprint July 2000), Cambridge, MA, and London.

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and a member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the people-side of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at


4:57 pm
February 9, 2016
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Uptime: A Top Management Standard — The Missing Link

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

The term “top management” in the ISO55000:2014 Asset Management Standard is referenced throughout the documents. In fact, top management has the overall leadership responsibility to establish the Asset Management System, as specified in the ISO55001 requirements.

But, the leadership responsibility of the very top of the organization, in pursuit of best-in-class operations and maintenance, is not new by any means. How the business’ equipment, machinery, and facilities operate has a direct impact on the balance sheet. So, why is it so difficult for top management to play a key leadership role?

Maintenance traditions

Maintenance of equipment, machinery, and facilities has been the responsibility of a plant engineering or maintenance department for generations. New maintenance methods and technologies have evolved to solve problems, improve maintenance efficiency, and ultimately keep the physical assets running smoothly. The maintenance department became one of many individual departments—organizational silos—with an accompanying charter and budget. Organizational finance and accounting put maintenance into an overhead expense category.

Traditionally, top management’s responsibility was to boost revenues and reduce expenses to meet the profit goals for the business. Naturally, top management became conditioned to treat maintenance as an overhead expense. As a result, the maintenance department often became financially constrained.

New equipment, machinery, and facilities projects frequently excluded operations and maintenance involvement. Decisions were often made based on functionality and cost trade-offs. Upon completion of the “project phase” the new physical assets were turned over to operations and maintenance. Top management applauded the project that came in under budget and ahead of schedule. Then, top management expected operations and maintenance to control their costs for the remaining life of the new assets.

Life-cycle costs

According to Fabrycky and Blanchard (1991) “A major portion of the projected life-cycle cost of a product, system, or structure is traceable to decisions made during the conceptual and preliminary design.” In other words, a major portion of the maintenance costs and levels of process reliability are established during the design and acquisition phases.

The concepts of physical asset life-cycle cost and total cost of ownership are not new by any means. Military applications were developed back in the 1960s, and industrial models began emerging in the early 1970s.

How often should top management involve operations and maintenance in the new physical-asset project team? How often have operations and maintenance actually been involved? Top management sets the overall project expectations.

Top management and life cycles

Since the introduction of the ISO55000 Asset Management Standard in 2014, a new light has been shed on the subjects of asset management, reliability, organization-wide life-cycle management, and the role of “top management.” But, the topic is not really new. Here are a few historical insights to ponder from an old book in my library (Husband, 1976):

  • “There is a glaring need for an integrated approach to physical-asset management.”
  • “It requires an appropriate strategy of management, at board level, to make it a success.”
  • “It is necessary to lower the traditional boundaries between the design, maintenance, finance, production, and other functions.”
  • “At the design stage of the process, the designer is disciplined to design out maintenance and design in reliability.”
  • “The designer will also, of course, be encouraged to design in maintainability where maintenance cannot be completely eliminated.”
  • “The idea is that communications between design, production, maintenance, and other key functions will be such that ideas and hard results will flow formally and consistently around the ‘system.’”
  • “All of the activities involved—specification, design, purchasing, commissioning, operating, maintenance, replacement—are already being carried out in industry. One of the most important tasks… is to show how (these) familiar individual activities can be combined or coordinated to achieve greater overall efficiency in the pursuit of common (business) objectives.”
  • “No new component skills are involved. The emphasis is entirely on coordinating the existing skills of a firm’s engineers, accountants, and specialist managers.”
  • “Incompetently or badly planned installation leaves a long legacy of operating problems.…insist on the use of systematic methods of managing the installation project.”

These are all insights from what was known as “Terotechnology” in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Then, in the 1980s, life-cycle management with top-management commitment became central to the success of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM).

In the book Introduction to Total Productive Maintenance (Nakajima, 1988), the concepts of life-cycle costs (LCC) are introduced at the onset. Later in the book, Dr. Benjamin Blanchard’s Life-Cycle Cost (1978), principles are cited for TPM Step 11: Develop Early Equipment Management Program—“Virtually 95-percent of life-cycle cost is determined at the design stage.”

Dr. Blanchard further explained the important relationship of LCC principles in the introduction to Nakajima’s book (1989) TPM Development Program. Blanchard stated that upward of 75% of the life-cycle costs are attributable to operational and maintenance activities.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), as defined by the Japan Institute for Plant Maintenance in the 1980s, specified that the role of the “top management of the company” was to announce that TPM will be introduced in the plant. “Top management must incorporate TPM into the basic company policy and establish concrete goals. TPM can succeed only with the commitment of top management.”

TPM is yet another example of top management sanctioning an organization-wide initiative to improve the life-cycle effectiveness of their production equipment.

Engaging top management

Establishing an asset-management system must be a strategic decision, a commitment, made by top management. “Top management” refers to the individual or group that controls an organization from the highest level. This could be the board of directors, the chief executive officer, and the other C-level executives.

History has shown that this level of top management often has a difficult time getting behind an initiative that spans the life cycle of an asset, a period of time that typically outlives their tenure in office. History has also shown that top management seems to have difficulty understanding the value of maintenance in the asset life cycle and the impact that the design phase has on maintenance costs.

In this very brief review of asset-management initiatives, known by various names, the ever-present reference to the essential role of “top management” is stressed. We all should know that, without real top-management commitment, asset-management initiatives will continue to be misunderstood as yet another maintenance program, or receive little of the organization-wide, multi-department collaboration required to fundamentally establish a life-cycle asset-management system.

In the absence of an international standard for a “Top Management Management System” we must learn to collaborate, to educate, and to aggressively pursue life-cycle asset management as the right thing to do. It won’t be very long before the traditional approaches to caring for our equipment, machines, and facilities become highly ineffective. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and a member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the people-side of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at


Benjamin S. Blanchard, Design and Manage to Life Cycle Cost, M/A Press, 1978, Oregon.

W.J. Fabrycky and Benjamin S. Blanchard, Life Cycle Cost and Economic Analysis, Prentice Hall 1991, NJ.

T.M. Husband, Maintenance Management and Terotechnology, Saxon House 1976, England.

Seiichi Nakajima, Introduction to Total Productive Maintenance, Productivity Press (English printing) 1988, JIPM (Japanese) 1984.

Seiichi Nakajima, Editor, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) Development Program, Productivity Press (English printing) 1989, JIPM (Japanese) 1982.


8:57 pm
February 8, 2016
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Asset Management And ISO 55000

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.55.48 PMBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

This new column, and a dynamic body of content at, will explore the intent, issues, concerns, and questions relating to the ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard. Over time, it will reflect insight from a number of sources, including emerging asset-management practitioners and other experts in the field of asset management.

This column and the website will address these burning questions:

  • What is ISO 55000:2014?
  • Why should you be concerned about ISO 55000?
  • Do you have to become certified in ISO 55000?
  • What is asset management?
  • What is the role of maintenance?
  • Where do reliability programs fit?
  • Is ISO 55000 just another new maintenance program?

ISO 55000:2014

Many readers are familiar with the ISO 9000 Quality Management Standard and ISO 14000 Environmental Management Standard. These, and many other international standards, are developed and published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) based in Geneva, Switzerland (

The ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard (issued in late January 2014) defines the requirements for a “management system for managing assets,” also known as a management standard for an asset-management management system. The new Standard is not a standard for how to manage assets.

While ISO 55000 is a general topic and current buzzword in industry, keep in mind that the criteria for certification are not contained in a document entitled ISO 55000:2014. The Standard is not confined to a single publication, but instead is reflected in separate and related documents, often referred to as the “suite of ISO 55000 Standards” or “ISO 5500X Standards.” They are:

  • ISO 55000:2014—Asset Management Overview, Principles, and Terminology
  • ISO 55001:2014—Asset Management–Management Systems–Requirements
  • ISO 55002:2014—Asset Management–Management Systems–Guidelines for the Application of ISO-55001

While the three separate publications are available for purchase from a number of sources, the ISO website provides these online browsing versions at no cost:

‘Assets’ in context

A quick review of ISO 55000:2014 reveals that the term asset (in the context of the standard) refers to more than what we typically consider as physical assets, i.e., facilities and equipment. ISO 55000, 2.3 defines an asset as “an item, thing, or entity that has potential or actual value to an organization.” This can be interpreted as intellectual property, real estate, software, works of art, or literally anything that an organization depends on to achieve its goals. (Going forward, this column will concentrate on types of assets commonly found in operations, including physical plants, buildings, equipment and processes, utility equipment and systems, servers and networks, control systems, and related assets.)

Assets within an organization (not the organization, company, plant, or facility) are the focus of ISO-55001 certification. ISO 55001 is not about certifying asset-management methods and programs but is the system for managing assets throughout the entire life cycle of the targeted assets.

To be clear, asset-management systems can also focus on individual assets, groups of assets, types of assets, asset systems, or asset portfolios across the business as a whole. This means that organizations can pursue ISO-55001 certification for an individual value-adding asset, an important production system, and/or a type of asset that is common across the organization and at various locations.

A system view

The ISO 55001:2014 Asset Management Standard describes the elements of a system for asset management and serves as the criteria for certification. Note that this Standard spans the entire life cycle of the assets: design, engineering, procurement, installation, startup, operation, maintenance, restoration, decommissioning, and disposal. It’s designed to assure the organization and its stakeholders, regulators, insurance underwriters, and investors that the organization has a system in place to manage their assets in ways that deliver value aligned with the organization’s objectives.

While you may now understand what ISO 55000 is, it’s just as important to understand what it is not. To be precise, the Standard doesn’t specify the process, programs, or best practices for actually managing assets. Neither is it a “standard for the management of assets.” Even though maintenance and reliability processes, programs, and best practices fit within ISO 55000, the new Standard is definitely not about maintenance and reliability.

Managing risk

The intent of ISO 55001:2014 is to specify the criteria for a system to manage an organization’s assets in ways that align value with the organization’s objectives. All physical assets in an organization are not equal in terms of a value proposition, however. Some are clearly more critical to achieving the objectives of the business than others. Likewise, some assets present a higher degree of risk to business goals than others. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and a member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the people-side of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at


8:55 pm
January 12, 2016
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Uptime: Time To Sort Out Some Terminology

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Can you get your maintenance department ISO55001 certified? After all, you are part of the operations-excellence program in your company. You have maintenance excellence in place, have a great asset-management system, and are responsible for the maintenance and reliability program.

In answering the above question, we first need to sort through a few terms. To start, maintenance does not mean the same thing as reliability. Nor do maintenance or reliability mean the same thing as an asset-management system. Operations excellence and maintenance excellence are not asset-management systems. Finally, an ISO55001 asset-management system is not necessarily a software program for equipment or facilities maintenance.

Unfortunately, maintenance-department ISO55001 certification is not going to happen. Here’s why. First, the ISO55001:2014 Asset Management Standard is not about maintenance excellence or reliability programs. Second, it’s not about certifying a department’s compliance to an asset-management standard. Third, while a maintenance department has a role in improving or sustaining reliability, it is only one of many organizations responsible for life-cycle reliability of physical assets.

At this point, it is most important to reinforce—and remember—the fact that the ISO55001 Asset Management Standard does not establish criteria for asset-management practices. ISO55001 specifies the criteria for a life-cycle asset-management “management system.” In other words, this standard is about a system for managing assets throughout their entire life cycle, from concept through decommissioning/disposal or renewal.

But take heart: When a business pursues ISO55001 compliance, maintenance plays a vital role in a life-cycle-based, asset-management system.

Asset management, though, is just one example of terminology that invades maintenance. One of the huge challenges we have to deal with in the maintenance arena is our terminology.

Maintenance-department ISO55001 certification is not going to happen. The ISO55001:2014 Asset Management Standard is not about maintenance excellence or reliability programs, or about certifying a department’s compliance to an Asset Management Standard. Moreover, while a maintenance department has a role in improving or sustaining reliability, it is only one of many organizations responsible for life-cycle reliability of physical assets.

Maintenance-department ISO55001 certification is not going to happen. The ISO55001:2014 Asset Management Standard is not about maintenance excellence or reliability programs, or about certifying a department’s compliance to an Asset Management Standard. Moreover, while a maintenance department has a role in improving or sustaining reliability, it is only one of many organizations responsible for life-cycle reliability of physical assets.

Maintenance and reliability confusion

It is important to remember that the reliability of equipment (or system) is determined long before maintenance comes into play. The ultimate equipment (or system) reliability is determined in the design, engineering, procurement, and build phases, well before it goes into operation. This is why the entire life-cycle of asset management is important.

As I’ve said for decades, “maintenance is the least defined of all industrial activities.” There is no common set of standards that defines maintenance standards, practices, methods, or job descriptions. Yet, there are some industry-specific standards and regulatory requirements. There are even some maintenance best practices. But, no universal definition exists.

In the past 30 years or so, we have merged common terminology, adapted terms, even created buzz words to define or label what we do in the scope of maintenance. I credit the term Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) for much of the morphing of our traditional maintenance vernacular.

For example, we are adding to the confusion across industry when we join the words maintenance and reliability into a single term to describe something that actually has two completely different meanings:

  • Maintenance is an action or set of actions aimed at preserving a desired state. The word also refers to an organization or group of people that maintains equipment and facilities.
  • Reliability is a goal and an end-state or condition, i.e., the probability that the equipment will do what it’s supposed to do. Reliability is not an action or set of actions.

Thus, when we join these terms together as in maintenance and reliability (M&R) in our plants and facilities, we confuse the two meanings.

As an example, let’s look at the term maintenance excellence. While there is not a common set of criteria defining maintenance excellence, there are numerous common-sense principles/best practices that it embraces. Proponents frame their “maintenance excellence” programs with a variety of those best practices. These often include preventive and predictive maintenance, precision maintenance, standard work, equipment and work documentation, root-cause analysis, engineering, and even operations involvement. As a result, at times we hear “achieving maintenance excellence” stated as a goal or end-state rather than stated activities.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is another example. Many times we see TPM adapted and/or renamed as maintenance excellence, or total process reliability.

Don’t take this discussion the wrong way. We know that these maintenance-improvement activities can work extremely well. Consultants, educators, and authors often determine the many and varied components of really good maintenance practices and then package them as easy-to-understand and implement strategies. With every new improvement program, however, we may get new maintenance terminology.

Asset-management confusion

Assets and asset-management terms have been used in our society and in business in reference to something of value, i.e., financial assets, property, estates, holdings. In the business world capital assets represent property, facilities, and equipment. We frequently refer to the equipment and facilities as physical assets. Historically, in the business world, asset management has referred to the process of protecting and investing financial assets such as cash, stocks, bonds.

In the past two decades, we’ve heard the term asset management used in the context of equipment and facilities maintenance. Maintenance-management systems morphed into computerized maintenance-management software (CMMS) systems and later into enterprise-asset-management (EAM) software. This is another example of vendors adapting the way they describe their products to suit the times—and give us new terminology in the field of industrial and facilities maintenance.

In 2014, asset management took on yet another meaning in the global business community with the release of the ISO55000:2014 Asset Management Standard. This Standard defines an asset in very broad terms:

“An asset is an item, thing, or entity that has potential or actual value to an organization. The value will vary between different organizations and their stakeholders, and can be tangible or intangible, financial or non-financial.”

Asset-management “system” confusion

Beware: ISO55000 is not about managing assets as we have come to understand and practice over time. Because of the way we think about maintenance and the physical assets we care for, it is in our nature to believe that ISO55000 is all about the management of such assets. It isn’t.

According to the ISO55000:2014 Asset Management Standard, “This International Standard specifies the requirements for the establishment, implementation, maintenance, and improvement of a management system for asset management, referred to as an ‘asset management system.’”

Yes, ISO55000:2014 Asset Management is about a system for managing assets. The conundrum is that “how” we maintain said assets is not mentioned as a requirement in the Standard. To be precise, maintenance practices are not mentioned in the requirements for an asset-management system.

Navigating the terminology

See what I mean about confusion in our workplaces? Let’s all have fun continuing to figure out maintenance, reliability, and asset-management terminology in 2016. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on the matter with me at the e-mail address below. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and a member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the people-side of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at


8:44 pm
December 17, 2015
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Uptime: Create and Grow Reliability Cultures

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Improving reliability almost always means improving (or changing) the way people think and work toward common goals. Improving performance and reliability of an existing facility and equipment should be seriously considered when budgets are limited. In many cases this may be the fastest, lowest cost, most sustainable option.

Whether leveraging new equipment and technology or taking steps to improve existing systems, culture change, i.e., a change in the way personnel think and work, is not optional. In the Nov. 2015 installment of this column, we explored seven basic steps for improving the performance of an older plant while simultaneously creating a reliability-improvement culture:

  1. Prepare a compelling business case for change.
  2. Focus on a breakthrough opportunity.
  3. Gather data, evidence, and facts to define the breakthrough opportunity.
  4. Assemble the multi-functional breakthrough team(s).
  5. Schedule an improvement workshop for the breakthrough team(s).
  6. Learn and apply fundamental improvement methods in the selected area.
  7. Sustain and leverage the improvements.

Getting to Step 7 and establishing an “island of excellence” is a fundamental requirement for creating a reliability culture. This is where breakthroughs in thinking and working occur, focused improvements in equipment performance and reliability take place, and real plant-floor culture change emerges. In short, an island of excellence becomes the showplace, and breakthrough team members become the advocates.

While Steps 1 through 5 are essential—and in that order—it’s the activities in Step 6 that frequently stall or launch a true island of excellence. Step 6 (learning and applying fundamental improvement methods in the selected area) offers many different activity options. Here are some of the proven ones that will lead to equipment inspections for improving reliability. Let’s call them sub-steps of Step 6.

Step 6A: Communicate a compelling business case. Top management must clearly articulate a compelling business case for improving equipment reliability. In some cases, this might involve a basic lesson in the business of doing business. Discussion examples include:

  • changes in the customer base, such as new customers and different expectations
  • increased level of competition in the marketplace
  • customer feedback and complaints about on-time deliveries
  • dwindling competitive advantages, including lead time, production time, and cost/unit
  • business growth opportunities, such as more production and more employees
  • increases in raw material and packaging costs that must be absorbed
  • changes in regulatory requirements
  • the impact of the current equipment performance and reliability on the business.

Step 6B: Discuss why this part of the plant was selected for improvement. Review the impact of the selected area (equipment, process) on the business cases discussed in Step 6a. Use historical data in Pareto-chart formats to help illustrate these points. For example:

  • high amounts of unplanned downtime
  • sporadic unplanned downtime
  • operating at less than proven capability or efficiency rates
  • increasing or excessive amounts of waste, scrap, and/or rework
  • increasing or excessive maintenance trouble calls.

Point out gaps in these data and solicit feedback from the group on other issues that contribute to improvement opportunities.

Step 6C: Inspect equipment for problems. Break into small sub-teams to inspect the selected equipment and tag specific problems. Document the following for each:

  • who identified the problem
  • brief description of the problem
  • nature of the problem, e.g., electrical, mechanical, lubrication, utility, operation
  • specific location of the problem
  • possible impact of the problem, e.g., availability, efficiency, quality, yield, safety, environmental, cost.

Step 6D: Sort problems into three broad categories. The breakthrough team should discuss and clarify each of the identified problems and label them as follows:

  • quick-fix by team members
  • high-priority and doable this week
  • high-priority, requires actions of others, e.g., capital expense, unavailable parts, engineering.

Step 6E: Review case examples for making rapid and sustainable improvements. Showcase successes, improvement methods, and out-of-the-box thinking approaches from other businesses. Identify how they arrived at the root causes of problems and implemented corrective actions. Introduce basic root-cause-analysis tools.

Establishing islands of excellence is a requirement in the creation of reliability cultures. They’re where breakthroughs in thinking and working occur, focused improvements in equipment-performance and reliability take place, and real plant-floor culture change emerges. Photo: Gary L. Parr

Establishing islands of excellence is a requirement in the creation of reliability cultures. They’re where breakthroughs in thinking and working occur, focused improvements in equipment-performance and reliability take place, and real plant-floor culture change emerges. Photo: Gary L. Parr

Step 6F: Return to equipment-problem locations and determine causes and corrective action. Clean the areas around problems. (Note: Cleaning is the most basic form of inspection.) Take photos to show each problem and contributing cause(s). Gather evidence of the problem and/or contributing causes, e.g., debris, foreign objects, grease accumulation, loose fasteners, missing parts, adjustments, errors.

Step 6G: Look for hidden problems. Many problems can be concealed or out of sight. Open guards and panels to expose hidden areas. Repeat Steps 6c, 6d, and 6f—tagging, sorting, and determining causes and corrective action.

Step 6H: Eliminate causes of problems. In this step, the breakthrough team makes improvements to eliminate the causes (or sources) of problems using root-cause-analysis tools. This improvement action goes beyond the quick fix and addresses the root cause in such a way that the cause of the problem is eliminated.

Step 6I: Make inspection improvements. Ease inspection (and cleaning) activities by removing cosmetic panels and replacing guards with clear polycarbonate or expanded metal, painted flat black.

Step 6J: Develop or improve inspection procedures (work instructions). Review any existing cleaning, inspection, and preventive-maintenance procedures to determine how they address the problems discovered in the previous steps. Modify existing procedures and/or develop new ones to cover preventive tasks for those problems. Include detailed step-by-step instructions, photographs, or illustrations, as needed, along with brief checklists to serve as reminders of the procedural steps.

Step 6K: Make inspection procedures visual. Apply visual cues of important inspection points, settings, locations, part numbers, and lubrication specifications close to the point of use. Make sure these visuals are aligned with written procedures and checklists.

Step 6L: Train and qualify team members to perform the new/revised inspections. Use work instructions as a training document. Once confidence has been built, have individual team members demonstrate their ability to explain and perform the step-by-step procedure. Those who can demonstrate this ability are, therefore, qualified to perform the respective tasks unsupervised. Follow-up audits should verify that the new inspection tasks are working as intended and causes of the problems are successfully addressed.


Creating reliability cultures—in most cases—requires changing the way people think and work, including changing their behaviors and habits, to enable them to practice and support reliability improvement. The key is to engage the right people, on the right equipment, using the right tools. In the process, they’ll begin developing their own common-sense reliability culture. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and a member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the people-side of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at