Dean Griffin, who has more than 28 years experience in physical asset management, is of the opinion that with the publication of the new ISO 55000 standard for asset management systems in January 2014, a new era has dawned in the discipline that is called physical asset management. Says Griffin, Director at Gaussian Engineering: “Physical asset management has to date been a relatively unknown and unrecognised function within industry. It’s often confused with maintenance and doesn’t really have a defined place. The fact that there is now an internationally aligned standard on asset management allows it to be discussed at board level within organisations. It also sets a bar on what is good and what is not when managing and operating assets.”

The newly introduced ISO 55000 is part of the management system standards that focus on quality within organisations. It is in the same suite as ISO 9001 and 14001. Griffin continues: “ISO 55000 was developed based on the new guide 83 principles and is the first standard to be issued following the fast track methodology. ISO 55001 will be the standard against which organisations can demonstrate to stakeholders that they’re responsible in their approach to managing the assets. It focuses on whole life management rather than short term asset sweating.”

According to Griffin, a change like this will take time to bubble to a point of difference. “In southern Africa, there is little known about the standard or what it is intended to achieve. I believe that if the public sector looks to adopt this within the metro and municipal arena it will mandate a level of care. If we’re to build a sustainable future within Africa, then it needs to be based on sound principles and standards. ISO 55000 as a suite of three elements represents the best attempt so far to create an internationally aligned guide to what needs to be in place to manage assets responsibly. In Europe and Australia, the regulatory bodies as well as insurers are looking at the standard to ensure that infrastructure is fit for stakeholder requirements. This means that future demand must be accounted for, planned and put in place ready for the day it’s required. The load shedding of today’s reality will hopefully be something that doesn’t happen in the future.”

Griffin believes the standard will create a platform for organisations to derive value from their asset base. “The standard makes the organisation look at its purpose, core business, stakeholder requirements and objectives and then translate this into the operation and management of the asset base. Effectively it makes the organisation asset centric and focused on value creation rather than value stripping.

“The standard has seven parts. Organisational Context ensures that the environment within which the company or organisation exists is known and understood. It also demands the identification of stakeholders, not only shareholders. Then there is Leadership. This clearly places the responsibility of asset performance and accountability at the highest level of the organisation. We’ve seen in recent international cases that the C suite are being fined or even imprisoned for neglecting this responsibility. Planning is next and looks at the asset management plans put in place to meet the objectives as well as dealing with the risks. Support looks at the supporting elements such as resourcing, competence and communication, as well as information management. Operation is the element that deals with the day-to-day operations of the assets, the contracting or outsourcing elements and also how change is managed. Performance evaluation looks at the monitoring and reporting elements, as well as internal audit requirements and the management review process. Lastly, but not less important, is the Improvement area. Obviously the management system is a learning system, and ISO 55000 like PAS 55 insists on continuous and continual improvement.”

Griffin reckons the take up of the standard will be rather cautious initially like it was with PAS 55. “However, the momentum created by pulling over 40 countries together to create a standard that everyone aligns to has generated a lot more focus. In some countries the launch of the standard has been greeted by senior government ministers or company CEOs, not to mention asset management practitioners. The biggest challenge will be to keep the standard true to its intent rather than going the way of ISO 9001. 9001 has become a compliance standard and the ISO 55000 suite is intended for performance.”

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