With the advent of ISO 55000, 55001 and 55002 there will naturally be a desire for some companies to get certified. In fact in the UK, the first certification by the British Standards Institute has already taken place and less than a month after the standards were officially released! If your organization was already PAS 55 certified, it should be a small leap to ISO certification – after all, it was based on PAS 55 and if anything, it appears to be a bit less onerous as well as better suited to broader application.
Certification against ISO 55001 applies only to the management system for a facility, installation, company or other portfolio of assets. It DOES NOT apply to people, but people can be certified as Asset Managers.
You can self-assess and self-certify but that could appear somewhat self-serving to a third party that may have reason to doubt your word. To get around that you need an independent assessor. ISO 55001 certification must be carried out by an accredited certifying body. It is not just anyone that can do it. Another standard comes into play.
ISO 17021-5 (Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems — Part 5: Competence requirements for auditing and certification of asset management systems), is the confirmed requirement for assessors and certifying bodies to have specific asset management knowledge to carry out the requisite audits. That’s a good thing too – if the assessor meets the requirements of ISO 17021-5, then your assessor will know what they are looking at and be quite capable to determining what is “good” or “compliant” to ISO 55001 in your Asset Management System.
The ISO 55000 series requires that you not only demonstrate you have processes (similar to those required by quality standards) but that you also follow those processes. This is a key improvement on other ISOs. It’s been a long standing joke that a company can comply with all the quality standards and boast about it all they want while still producing junk. Sadly there has always been some truth behind that.
ISO 55000 was written with that flaw in mind. It does not permit you to get away with having the documented processes that do not reflect good practice. In that sense it goes well beyond the quality standards. The requirements that a certifier must meet are consequently more stringent. This puts pressure on certifying bodies that already exist – they may not have those competent asset managers just yet. We expect that you might see some hiring to close that gap. It’s unlikely an auditor who knows quality and other ISOs will also be fully conversant with Asset Management practices. Organizations like BSI, DNV, NSF and others who are well known for their certification activities may need some ramp up time (although we know BSI has already issued at least one certification in the UK).
Given the newness of the standards there is little in the way of training that is specific to it aimed at helping end users identify what they must do to get their organizations compliant. That will change quickly. Our own firm is in the process of becoming capable of delivering training for the Asset Management Academy (UK) and ultimately to certify Asset Managers under the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) endorsed training scheme here in North America.
In regulated industries (water, gas, electricity, telecoms) the regulators have been watching international developments closely. Municipalities have taken a keen interest as well. All of them have mandates to ensure services are delivered safely and at low costs. If they are smart about it, they will make ISO 55001 compliance mandatory and let their utilities know that this should lower their costs, not increase them. Rates for delivery of electricity, gas, etc. should in fact be lowered by it. Whether or not the regulators have the gumption to take that stand remains to be seen, but it is their mandate to take a strong stance to lower rates paid by the public. In no way should utilities who gain compliance require more money to do it. They may need to pay for help as they align themselves to the standards but once alignment is achieved the benefits should begin paying for the effort. That’s a challenge for cash flow management, but doesn’t warrant new money. Sadly the incentives for utilities have, at least in some cases, encouraged runaway capital spending to replace aging assets rather than wise spending on maintenance to optimize the life cycle costs. Mindsets there are likely to have to change as well!
By being independently certified, utilities will be in a position to rightfully say that they are managing their assets well and to a globally recognized standard. It will mean that they are delivering value, optimizing Life Cycle Cost, spending capital wisely and maintaining to a high standard so services are delivered as reliably as practicable.
Municipalities have been demonstrating a great deal of interest. Clearly they want to keep tax hikes down in the interests of their politicians getting re-elected. Unlike the utilities, they have some self-interest at stake by keeping costs down and that is always a good motivator. Through independent certification they could make some pretty strong claims to competency and good husbandry of the assets in their charge. Good life cycle asset management practices should ensure that municipalities get the most value for what they spend over the long term and not just spending as little as possible and leaving a long term headache for the next elected regime or the ones after.
Getting certified will entail having an accredited assessor that meets the requirements of ISO 17021-5 to come in and perform an audit. He / she will look for evidence of your documented processes, etc. and evidence that you are following those processes. They’ll want to see AM Policy, Objectives, Plans, your processes, information management systems, etc. They’ll want to see that you are following continuous improvement processes through an audit plan and that you have a mechanism in place to ensure improvements to asset management and the asset management system are carried out. Once satisfied that you are doing all that and have it in place, well documented, that you are doing it consistently… they’ll certify you.
Those organizations that have been doing what they can to align with PAS 55 (even if they haven’t been aiming at certification) are likely to be ahead of the game. The requirements of PAS 55 are not at all dissimilar from ISO 55001.
Experience in the UK and elsewhere that PAS 55 was used revealed that documentation, consistency and record keeping are all likely to be a bit weak. Processes of the various management systems, engineering, risk, quality, maintenance, etc. are unlikely to be well integrated at the outset. Our management habits and performance management regimes here in North America and elsewhere have tended to promote silo thinking and behavior. Departments often don’t collaborate well if at all – in some extreme cases they even work at cross purposes. That is often evident in the areas of inventory management and maintenance where poor information sharing and lack of collaboration can create a host of operational problems. This sort of dissonance isn’t restricted only to those two areas. Lack of collaboration is often very easy to spot. Where it impacts on, or is impacted by, Asset Management that will need to change.
ISO 55001 and its implementation will provide an excellent catalyst for integrating those various disparate management systems. The result should be less bureaucratic and beneficial in terms of ensuring overall corporate goals are met more efficiently and effectively.
We can expect companies to go through a period of reflection on their processes and systems. That will be followed by some form of re-engineering (not downsizing – real re-engineering) of their processes after they’ve determined where the various touch points are and how they need to be working more smoothly. They’ll need to document practices that in many cases will already be in place and established.
We’ve all experienced different ways of doing the same things in different departments. Work requests for repairs are a good example of something that, despite the best efforts of maintenance managers, often get handled in a variety of ways. Department heads need only complain. Operators are forced to complete work requests on a computer. Other users who are unfamiliar with the work request screens can call a dispatcher… Chances are, if the organization has any sort of size, it will need to determine the best of several different ways of doing just about everything, settle on a single efficient and effective process, document it well and then put it into practice at all locations. Training and enforcement of new practices is likely to follow.
If an organization wants to align with, not necessarily be certified to, ISO 55001, they’ll still have a bit of work to do. Ultimately it will pay off in efficiencies and increased effectiveness but in the short term it may entail a bit of change pain. Expect it.
To start, have an assessor come in and carry out an audit. This assessor need not be from a certifying body but you do want someone familiar with the standards and also with an established track record in asset management. In other words – someone who could comply with ISO 17021-5. The intent of this audit isn’t to get certified, it is to find out what work is needed. You can do this yourself of course, but do you really understand the standards well enough to do that competently? A self-assessment will get you started on the obvious areas of non-compliance but it may not take you down the complete path. One consideration is that if you are not in the business of auditing nor the business of helping organizations deal with changes on a large scale, there is a good chance you won’t be entirely successful. That sort of work is not your strength. There is no shame in getting outside help to do something that isn’t your main business or core competency.
Once that review is completed you’ll know what is required. A plan will be needed to correct any deficiencies or non-compliances and that plan will require execution. It’s no different than any other improvement initiative except that in this case you’ll have a goal in mind that can actually be checked and verified by an independent third party assessor, and if they are compliant to ISO 17021-5, they can then certify you against ISO 55001.
The accredited assessors who are empowered to certify you must be independent. They should not be in a position to benefit from your preparations for certification. Any outside help you get to do that cannot certify you against the standard. Of course an organization accredited to certify you can help you prepare for certification, but you will need to get an independent third party to actually carry out the audit and certification. For example, you could invite our firm to help your organization get ready for certification and we’d gladly help, but we cannot certify you ourselves. We can however deliver training and administer the certification of individuals as Asset Managers.
ISO 55001 certification isn’t required by any regulatory or other body just yet but we can expect that will come in time. It is likely to happen in regulated industries and municipalities fairly soon but as disasters continue to strike and reveal asset management practices that were wanting, we can expect a call for some standards to be followed even in other industries.
One that comes to mind is railways. In North America we are increasingly shipping large volumes of highly flammable, volatile and toxic substances by rail. Pipeline construction is increasingly subjected to political meddling and seemingly endless reviews so trains are an alternative for bulk shipping. Recently there have been several very high profile derailments with fires and fatalities. In Canada the disaster at Lac Megantic is a prime example. To blame are arguably insufficient operating practices, poor watch-keeping, parking on an incline leading into a populated area (with a curve in the line), lack of communication between the fire department and the train operator, carriage of a volatile substance that didn’t behave as expected, lack of testing protocols, lack of regulation covering the carriage of hazardous substances, poor labelling of what’s in the cars, political finger pointing, criminal or near-criminal business decisions, declaring bankruptcy to get off the hook, inadequate insurance coverage, just plain greed and so on. That train had crossed about half of the continent and arguably that same disaster could have happened anywhere along its route. Not long after Lac Megantic another derailment involving the same crude from the same field occurred in the US mid-west near Casselton, ND, in Jan 2014 another happened near Plaster Rock, New Brunswick and another in Mississippi. A recent study shows that train derailments typically spill more oil than pipeline ruptures. Perhaps ISO 55000 offers at least part of the solution to this problem.
Bridges are getting old in North America. Several have collapsed and some with fatalities. We all know they deteriorate with age but we don’t know when they will be weakened to the point of collapse. Money for upkeep is often cut because spending on maintenance isn’t sexy and doesn’t win votes. Money for new construction – different story. But rebuilding all the bridges on the continent is going to be expensive – it’s not a viable option for cash strapped, indebted governments with restive constituents already feeling the double whammy of a bad economy and high taxes. Again, perhaps ISO 55000 can help at least with part of the problem.
Other areas where application of good Asset Management can help include airports (most are horribly crowded and struggling to keep up with air travel volumes that were predicted years ago), roads in larger cities that can’t handle the volumes of car traffic due to poor transport infrastructure planning (or lack of it). Integrated and multi-disciplined collaboration can certainly help – of course the politicians will need to get out of the way too.
Even private industry can benefit. ISO 55000’s aim of optimizing the value we get from our assets, doing it safely and in an environmentally friendly way has got to be consistent with what every company that uses physical assets wants to achieve. Why live with the continuance of mediocrity in the face of stiff competition from less expensive places to do business elsewhere in the world? In some cases it is little more than shipping costs over long distances that keep offshore competition offshore and production facilities alive in North America. But those costs won’t act as a protective barrier forever. Getting smart will help – ISO 55000 provides the framework.
The time for good asset management, compliant to a recognized and well thought out standard is here. ISO 55000, 55001 and 55002 provide that standard. They provide an opportunity.
Getting there will be a bit of work – not onerous, but not insignificant either. It will force collaboration on a level that is rarely achieved today in most organizations. It will require people to change perspectives and paradigms. It will force dinosaurs to look at newer and better ways to do things. It’s time has come.
Save money, make more, provide more reliable services … what’s not to like about it?