What Is PAS 55, and Why Should You Care?

The absence of standards for managing physical assets leaves technology suppliers with little direction on how to design appropriate products, and industrial enterprises with no guidance for developing initiatives.

This can be particularly problematic for multinational organizations. Formal industry standards provide a framework for both economies of design, and improved product and service quality. Standards facilitate interoperability, production improvements and scalability of asset management programs among different industries and between plants.

Standards can also help improve quality of life by contributing to safety, human health and environmental protection. Unless mandated by regulatory bodies, standards compliance is voluntary; however, it demonstrates an organization’s commitment to quality, performance or safety.

PAS 55 is a general standard for managing physical assets. Thus, it is particularly relevant for asset-intensive enterprises. Originally launched in 2004 under the leadership of the Institute of Asset Management (IAM), it was intended for regulated infrastructure and public utilities, but has since garnered interest in a variety of non-regulated industries. It was updated in 2008 with input from 50 organizations in 10 countries, representing 15 industry sectors. The structure of the standard is analogous to Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) continuous improvement cycle used in quality management systems. Any strategic asset-management plan should reflect the overall objectives of the enterprise.

Under the guidance of the IAM, organizations such as Lloyd’s Register (www.lr.org) offer PAS 55:2008-1 assessment, training and certification services. Many enterprises will recall similar programs when obtaining ISO 9001 certification for quality management systems. PAS 55 certification requires an enterprise to optimally manage capital investments, daily operations, maintenance, resources, risks, performance and sustainability for all of its assets.

To date, PAS 55 adoption has been largely limited to electricity and gas distributors in the United Kingdom, where compliance is mandatory, but it has expanded into the railway and water sectors in that country as well. However, the standard is migrating to other parts of the world through global, UK-based companies. For example, National Grid, a UK-based power company, also owns and operates electricity transmission systems and distribution networks in the northeastern United States serving 3.3 million customers. The company currently holds 11 PAS 55 certificates in the United Kingdom and United States.

MTR Corp., a leader in mass-transit rail services, has already attained certification for its Kowloon-Canton rail line in Hong Kong, and is committed to adopting the PAS 55-1 specification for all future rail lines to demonstrate its commitment to achieving the highest standards in reliability, safety and efficiency. Other organizations in North America already use PAS 55 as an assessment tool to help develop robust, sustainable asset performance management plans, but have elected not to pursue certification.

ISO Standard?

PAS 55:2008 is a publicly available standard sponsored by the British Standards Institution (BSI, www.bsi-global.com). Although compliance with a BSI standard has credence in Britain, it does not necessarily translate internationally with equal significance. In August 2009, BSI filed a proposal with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO, www.iso.org) to develop a global asset management standard for physical assets. With the support of 21 ISO country members, the proposal has been successful in garnering comments. BSI will host a preliminary meeting next April to discuss the comments and to plan future activity.

Paula Hollywood, phollywood@arcweb.com, is Senior Analyst, ARC Advisory Group Inc., in Dedham, Mass.

Lloyd’s Register
www.lr.org

British Standards Institution, BSI
www.bsi-global.com

International Organization for Standardization, ISO
www.iso.org

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