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PAS 552008 A standard for managing assets

Why oh why do we need one?

Three engineers are in a bar for their weekly get-together and they are discussing the state of the economy and how the country’s assets are failing to provide the desired levels of service. The first engineer, a civil engineer, highlights that the issue is lack of maintenance and investment and the way to remedy the situation is to invest in new builds. The second engineer, an electrical engineer, identifies the lack of investment in maintenance over the past decade as well as the lack of skilled artisans. The third engineer, a rather forlorn figure currently working in the supply chain, puts the blame on procurement policies and lack of available resources compounded by long lead times. The barman, a man with the ability to listen more than speak, looks them in the eye and says, “I think you’re all correct.” Big smiles grow on all their faces. They leave the bar safe in the knowledge that they are all right.. The barman sighs. He knows that next week’s discussion will be about this topic again, the same as it has been for the last year.

So what’s the big deal? Well, we can all identify the problems and hold intellectual discussions about them. What we are often bad at is putting in place solutions that provide long-term sustainable and cost-responsible results as opposed to quick fixes.

How can we address the poor infrastructure, lack of skills and resources, and poor performance? What’s Gary Players adage? “The more I practice the luckier I become!” Practice is based on a defined set of rules, processes and procedures, not the same set for everyone, but all of them contain the same elements. So we need some form of standard or guide.

As significant amounts of money and time are spent managing business-critical assets each year, why not use a standardised approach? To date in industry though there has been confusion over terminology and in different sectors and countries a variety of approaches has been employed. In many cases these approaches served well, but equally many of us are aware of high-profile failures. Sub-optimal asset management arrangements reduce performance, increase costs and ultimately fail the customer.

It was clear to the Institute of Asset Management (UK) that there was a dire need to provide a consistent framework for Asset Management systems. The Institute pulled together leading consultants, regulators, insurance companies and both public and private business experts to create a common framework or standard which organisations could use to try and ensure sustainable risk-mitigated operations. The result was the Publicly Available Specification 55, often referred to as PAS 55 (PAS 55-2008 parts 1 & 2). It is applicable to any organisation that depends upon its physical assets for the performance and continuance of its business operations.

So PAS 55-2008 is another guide or standard to help us run better, more sustainable operations. But what’s the benefit of implementing it? In the UK organisations that have implemented the standard have benefited on two fronts. The first is improved, more reliable and sustainable operations. The second is reduced insurance premiums.

So when we are in the bar listening to the engineers, who will always have a complaint and a view on a solution (they are engineers after all!), now we know they have a framework available to use that provides a solution that can be implemented and ultimately sustained.

PAS 55-2008 is currently undergoing conversion into an International Standard (ISO 55 000) and working groups from around the globe will provide us with something that we can use in 2 or 3 years time. Depending on your industry, compliance to the standard may be a condition of insurance or licence in the future. I bet that starts a few conversations!

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