ISO 55000 is Good for Business

ISO 55000-55002 is called the asset management package.  It is a roadmap for how to set and maintain an equipment reliability program.  When equipment is reliable, production is more stable and costs can be managed more accurately.  Therefore, the 55000 standard is good for business.  A reliable operation provides the stability for innovation or for profit taking.  It provides business with the option to execute their strategy.  People are in charge.  In an unreliable operation, the equipment is in charge, because all the people are reacting to the availability (or lack thereof) of the equipment.

First, what is ISO.  It is the organization for international standards for products and services.  Many people think of the one or two standards they are familiar with, but as of today:

ISO has published 22,195 International Standards and related documents, covering almost every industry, from technology, to food safety, to agriculture and healthcare. ISO International Standards impact everyone, everywhere.

In other words, ISO is big and broad reaching.  And who doesn’t love a story that anecdotally begins with a horse butt?  The story, which is at least partially true, goes that the width of modern railroads are standardized on the old Roman roads.  Since the Romans’ main mode of long distance transport was horse, the road tracks are spaced at about the width of two horses.  Therefore, one of the first standards was based upon horse width, or as the driver sees, the horses’ behinds.Horse ButtThe Asset Management package, ISO 55000 series, was published in 2014.  It arrived without much fanfare, and even today, I can tell how hardcore into reliability someone is, by their familiarity with the standard.  That should not be the case, every maintenance and reliability manager should be familiar with the package, and own at least some version of it.

The most common phrases I hear about why an organization does not have a working reliability program are

  1. We don’t know where to start.
    • The organization is in such a reactive mode that they don’t know how to prioritize forward thinking reliability work – the equipment is in charge.
    • Those charged with reliability leadership don’t have the skills to create a reliability roadmap.  They have no formal training, and their OJT training has been focused on fixing and maintaining, rather than reliability strategy.
  2. We can’t get management support for a program.
    • Those charged with reliability leadership do not understand how to ‘sell’ reliability.  They don’t have the background to put together an ROI for the reliability roadmap.
    • Management thinks maintenance, not reliability, and does not view it as a competitive advantage.
    • Organizational mind set needs to be :
      • Reliability is not a cost to be cut.
      • Reliability is a continuous improvement program to invest in.

The ISO 55000 series addresses the roadmap and can be used as leverage to help convince management of the necessity for reliability.  The standard does not address ROI or funding questions.  Engage experts to nail down the financial rewards of a reliability program.

The standards 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

They layout a roadmap for reliability.  They are well organized and written in pretty easy to understand language.   They even include handy diagrams and relationship charts.  The standard starts with asset management.  What are your assets, then how do you put together a program to manage their health and life cycle.  It includes self assessing and a process for sustainability in the reliability program.

Start small to get “wins”, but use the package to build both your overall strategy, as well as your tactical execution program.  Now you know where and how to start.  Problem 1 – Solved.

The package can be used in conjunction with the financial estimates to gain management support.  By showing that you are following a standard, and that your ideas are well rooted in solid business practices all over the world, you can convince the conservative leader.  Show them that you are not trying something new, but catching up to your competitors.  For the leaders that like to push the envelop, show them how the standard is a jumping off point.  You are one of the first in your industry to adopt and conquer this standard.  After all, have they heard ISO 55000 talk around the c-suite water cooler?  Convince them they are an innovator by backing this program.  Problem 2 – Solved.

Some who were involved in the ISO9000 quality series implementation of the 1990s may see following ISO standards as a huge money drain with little results.  If that is true, they embraced the idea of being certified, but not the ideals of the actual standard.  It is true that the certification companies were/are expensive, and that you could have a quality program, but not a quality product.  But you had to work pretty hard at cheating the system to not wind up with a good quality system.  The problem often came that overly complicated internal systems were developed rather than tweaking current processes to met the standard.   The standard set up a good system of checks and balances, as well as the roadmap for success.  The 55000 standards set up that same type of system, and expressly encourages internal validation.

Setting up a quality system, a reliability system, or any other business process to comply to ISO standards, should not mean creating new processes from scratch.  Rather they should build on your current processes and strengths to meet the standard.  You know how to run your business, use the standard to ensure that processes are actually process based, not people based.  They ensure standardization.

A properly executed and maintained ISO5000 series compliant reliability program does yield a reliability operation at the optimum cost.  Depending on the current maturity of the organization’s reliability program and the available resources, it may take a year or it may take 10 years to see these rewards.  However, since the asset management program is good for business, and its bottom line, I highly recommend spending the resources to become compliant in the 1-2 year range, rather than stretch it out over several years.  The more involved the organization’s commitment to reliability, the faster and deeper the rewards.

It is not easy to transform a business, and there are investment costs to doing so.  The ISO standards will not help you with the dedication and perseverance you need to implement reliability.  But they do provide a high level roadmap, and the assurance that you are working with a standard.  Following that standard properly will result in a reliable operation.

ISO 55000 series asset management standards are good for business.


Is Certification Necessary?

Certification is an indication more of commitment than skill.  However, it is this commitment that makes the certification valuable.  To pass any certification exam, a mix of practical and book knowledge is required.  Because exams are written, the book knowledge is more heavily gauged.  In earning and keeping the certification, one works constantly on the practical knowledge and its application.  That work makes the long ago earned, but still valid, certification more valuable the newly minted one.  A certificate on the other hand, is earned one time.  The skill may be built upon, but there is no tracking of continuing education or use.

CPMM 022

I believe that certifications are important because of the commitment that one makes when obtaining and keeping that certification.  Even when I search for a provider to care for my pet, I am more inclined to interview someone who has joined a professional organization, and gained certification.  It’s not that I think scooping litter requires a skilled and tested individual.  But if I am going to trust the health and well being of one of my family members to a relative stranger, I want to know that they are as committed to my little guy’s health and well being as I am.

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Certifications are have value for all types of employees.

Current employees

When current employees earn and maintain certification.  It indicates their commitment to the craft and their willingness to engage in continuous education.  Companies should encourage certification and get involved with the certifying organization to ensure that the content matches industry needs.  Certifications need to evolve with the craft and continuing education units (CEUs) or professional development units (PDUs) are part of this evolution.

Hiring new employees / Creating a resume

Certifications and certificates on a resume can help it rise to the top.  The interview process will probe the depth of candidates’ knowledge and skill.

When building a resume always include your certifications.  Choose which certificates to include based on the ones that you are proficient in, and that you want to continue to practice.  I have earned numerous safety certificates over the years, but I do not include those on a biography or resume because that is not where I want to focus my career.  I have earned certificates in Theory of Constraints and Lean and I do include those, because they are relevant to my work.  I have kept current on the application of those in industry, but they are not certifications, because I do not renew them through the use of CEU or PDU tracking.

Hiring a consultant

Certifications for consultants are imperative.  To hold out as a expert or leader in a field, one must be conversant in both book and application knowledge.  The certification is an indicator of this.  Interviews and discussions with the consultant will help match the right skill set with your needs.

Multiple certifications and certificates

Multiple certifications demonstrate intense commitment.  Multiple certs in the same field demonstrate a deep knowledge and an interest in being on the leading edge of the subject.

Multiple certs in diverse subjects show an aptitude for big picture thinking, as well as practical application of those subjects.  They also show an evolutions of career interests and skill sets.

To determine the right certification, invest time in researching the options.

  • The certification should be accepted by others in the industry as valuable
  • Certifications offered by professional organizations (.org) are often preferred
  • Make sure there is a renewal period and understand the CEU/PDU requirements
  • The certification should be directly applicable to the work that you currently perform (do not get a certification for your “next” career, your lack of practical application will hinder your credibility)
  • Earning the certification (the study materials) should interest and excite you
  • The certification should provide more contact with others in your field

So, a certification is not necessary, but highly desirable.  If you love your career, embrace it by joining (professional organizations), contributing (to the body of knowledge), and certifying in it.


The use of non OEM parts cannot automatically void a warrantee

Can using non OEM parts void a warrantee?   The answer is maybe, but probably not. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act regulates warrantees for both industrial and individual consumers.  The act specifically restricts tie-in requirements.  A manufacturer cannot require specific maintenance or parts usage, unless the company provides those services or materials during the warrantee period.

However, why would you not follow recommended servicing guidelines, or use the OEMs proprietary parts?  The reason that you purchased capital equipment from the OEM is because the product fit your requirements.  Keeping it in top condition should be a high priority.

Use OEM materials that are proprietary to keep your equipment in top shape.  If materials are commercially available materials that the OEM has rebranded, feel free to use the “generic” version of that part.  Some larger companies are requesting that OEMs provide the purchasing information for non-proprietary materials.  Even if you don’t have the buying power of the large companies, it is always a good idea to ask for a complete bill of materials.

So, using non-OEM parts will not automatically void your warrantee.  It is recommended that you have the warrantee period maintenance discussion with your sales rep at the time of purchase.  Understanding your rights and their rights under the Magnuson-Moss act should make the discussion very productive.

It is also recommended to use a warrantee tracking process, to get the most out of your warrantee.  Many CMMS’s allow for tracking warrantees.  If yours doesn’t, set up a spreadsheet or database to track warrantees and dates.   Assign someone to monitor the warrantee periods and ensure that if there are problems with equipment during the warrantee timeframe, that the OEM is notified and allowed to correct defects or provide materials as required.  The money you save by properly administering warrantee claims for equipment should offset the time of the individual monitoring the warrantee periods.


Choosing the right tool for your analysis. RCM or FMEA

Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) reviews and Failure Modes and Effects Analyses (FMEA)s have a lot in common, but there are still some key differences.  Rather than go into the mechanics of each, let’s look at the philosophy to help you choose the appropriate tool for your organization.

RCM as events are often overshadowed as folks have started using the term RCM to mean a proactive operating philosophy; what I call manufacturing excellence.  This is not a review of that philosophy.  Here I am talking about the John Moubray pioneered RCM analysis and its legitimate offshoots. (SAE JA1011_199908)

RCM is a member of the zero culture.  No failures are acceptable.  The RCM will identify all the potential failure points and these will be engineered away.  This may take the place of re-engineering equipment or processes, or engineering a proactive inspection to reduce the risk of an unplanned interruption (failure) to zero.  RCM will rank failures in a high-medium-low fashion, but the ultimate goal is to remove all potential failures, no matter the ranking.  RCM is to the maintenance organization what zero defects is to the quality organization.

Just as true believers of the zero quality defects philosophy removed quality inspectors, a true RCM organization would place less emphasis on mechanics rushing to breakdowns.  There would be no unplanned maintenance.  An RCM organization would take the opportunity of a breakdown to review their engineering efforts and determine how to never have this happen again.  Driving unplanned maintenance to zero would be the vision of the whole organization and resources would be applied appropriately.  This requires much upfront engineering and precise execution of planned maintenance.

FMEA culture does accept some failures.  Run to failure is an option in an FMEA philosophy, but that decision is made in advance, and with eyes wide open.  A key feature of the FMEA is the risk priority number (RPN).  The lowest acceptable RPN is determined and this is called the RPN threshold.  The RPN threshold is the point at which the organization has said, the cost of reducing that failure is more than the cost of the failure itself, therefore it will not be engineered out.  Determining the failures and their mitigating activities is similar in both the RCM and the FMEA.  However the FMEA assigns a number to the failure modes’ severity, occurrence, and detection to determine the risk priority number.  The organization then chooses an RPN threshold and only assigns resources to engineering out failures whose RPNs are above that threshold.  Therefore the organization accepts that failures with RPNs below the threshold will still occur.  They have accepted a breakdown culture, to a certain degree.  This organization will rely on a combination of engineering and maintenance to perform.  The FMEA organization will have fewer engineering resources and more maintenance and troubleshooting resources than the RCM organization.

Both the RCM organization with its zero tolerance and the FMEA organization with its limited acceptance of breakdowns are legitimate operating philosophies.  Both have many successful examples.  Airlines and power producers are examples of industries that follow the zero philosophies.  Failures in these industries cost the providers huge economic penalties, so the cost of the RCM implementation is easily saved in cost avoidance.  There is also a risk of loss of life with either of these failures and, actuary tables aside, these cannot be measured in pure economic terms.

Many factories and producers adopt the FMEA philosophy of accepting risk.  However, problems arise when management provides resources to act in an FMEA environment and expects RCM zero results.  Management will keep the responsibility for the budget and approving projects to themselves, but assign the accountability for zero breakdowns to the maintenance or maintenance and engineering departments.  This mis-match in accountability and responsibility is what causes some organizations to spiral out of control and become a reactive culture.   Reactive culture is not a sustainable operating philosophy.  Just to be clear, reactive maintenance culture is not a sustainable operating philosophy.  It is not sustainable to operate your organization with a reactive maintenance philosophy.

So when choosing between FMEA and RCM, understand what the organization’s accountability and responsibility structure are for allocating and implementing engineering and maintenance resources.  It is often advisable to lean toward the RCM zero philosophy.  That way the projects to engineer out the failures are in proposal form, just waiting for the funding to be approved.  Let’s look at how a failure might be handled in each organizational philosophy:

FMEA – a failure occurs with a low RPN.  The organization demands an after action review of the failure.

The maintenance manager reviews the original FMEA, confirms the RPN number is still valid and reports to the rest of the site leadership team that this failure was one that “we” determined the organization could weather.  Added to that report are the cost of the failure, and an estimate of what it might cost to mitigate that failure.  This confirms that run to failure was the most economical plan.

All is good until someone on the leadership team states “they” were not a part of the “we” and will not accept any failure at any time; mis-match in philosophies.  Now the organization has to re-determine which philosophy they hold or should the RPN threshold be lower.  This could trigger a review of all the FMEAs against a lower RPN, or a removal of all RPNs to embrace a zero culture.


The maintenance manager reviews the original FMEA, determines the RPN has changed and it is, in fact, above the threshold now.   This triggers a project for this specific instance.  It also triggers a review of all FMEAs to recalculate the RPN for the current operating conditions.  This also sets up the need to have a trigger to review RPNs as operating conditions change.

RCM – a failure occurs. The organization demands an after action review of the failure.

The maintenance manager reviews the files, finds the failure and the project associated with its mitigation.  The project is presented to the leadership team with an updated ROI given the recent failure.  The leadership team decides project resources and timing.  This may include that the ROI on the project is not still not viable and the project goes back to waiting status.

Both RCM and FMEA philosophy are acceptable ways to run an organization.  However, if the leadership team is constantly changing faces (individuals), or the operating conditions are constantly changing, it can be advantageous to run with the zero failure philosophy of RCM.   Operating under the FMEA philosophy may make more sense in the reality of limited funds, but it takes much more finesse and an understanding of risk analysis to promote and sustain.

Choose your methodology wisely and be able to explain the philosophy to both your peers and your team.  Confidence and support for the methodology is much more important than the specific acronym you apply.  Please do choose a proactive approach, because reactive maintenance is not sustainable.  It costs way too much in lost production, equipment wear, and morale of the humans who have to operate in that environment.

Please share your stories of successful RCM or FMEA implementation.

Remote Lubrication Point

Remote Lube Pt Fail_LIRemote lubrication points are a good idea for safety.  They allow for greasing while equipment is running, which is the best way to get grease into the bearing.  However they need to be designed to actually provide the lubrication to the bearing.

The person greasing this has made two mistakes, but the biggest mistake is in the design of this point.


Remote greasing points should be located to minimize the distance the grease must travel.

This design requires the grease to be forced down, then back up the plastic tubing.  Perhaps a better location for the remote zerk would be where I have placed a red dot.  Locating the remote zerk parallel to the actual bearing grease point would minimize the directions that the grease must travel, and also significantly cut the length of the “grease in waiting”.

Relubrication:  The person(s) responsible for lubricating this point need training on observing the equipment.  It is readily apparent that no grease has made it to its destination.  In addition, the mound of grease on the zerk is sloppy.  Some folks like to leave a small dollop of grease on the zerk that is wiped off before the next greasing.  Grease caps are also available to protect the opening of the zerk.  Large glops of grease only make a mess and make in more likely that the wiping off action actually introduces dirt, rather than preventing it.

Competitive Advantage

The simple reality is that maintenance departments are cost centers. Meaning, you cost your company money and do not provide “value add” to the end customer: maintenance does not create salable product, your job exists solely to support salable product.
Maintenance must, therefore, be managed as a competitive advantage. By changing organizational thinking to view maintenance as a competitive advantage, more innovative ideas are implemented. To affect this shift, maintenance is measured by the value produced. First-run output becomes a direct measure of equipment capability, therefore reliability.
Reliability value is measured by the maintenance cost of the best sustainable run output. Sustainable output length is organization dependent; common timeframes include 90 shifts, 3 months, outage to outage, etc.

Reliability Value Example
Best 90 shift output = 9,000 widgets
10 hours/shift yields 10 widgets/hour
Maintenance costs for timeframe = $500,000
Maintenance cost /widget = $55.56

Whenever maintenance costs are below $55.56/widget, the company sustains a competitive advantage. That advantage can be used in profit taking, or in lowering the product price to gain market share.

Maintenance decisions are now based on cost per widget. Consider the decision to enter into Condition Based Monitoring (CBM) at monthly costs of $10,000. To be advantageous, the program must guarantee an additional 180 widgets ($10,000/55.56 dollars/widget). At 10 widgets/hour, the program must improve equipment uptime more than 18 hours/month.

Under cost center thinking, a $10,000/month CBM program would be an unlikely approval. However, when viewed under the competitive advantage model, it can be approved because there is a tangible measure of success – hours of equipment uptime.

cost center graphic

Graphic: Cost / Widget

How have you justified reliability expenditures in your organization?