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If you have ever heard anyone in your organization state, “We’ve always done it that way,” chances are that you’re stuck in a paradigm. And it’s a paradigm that’s likely ill-suited to your current needs and requirements. This paradigm represents your current maintenance-management model, which consists of the policies, processes, procedures, and work-management system as applied to the organization’s physical assets (facility, machinery, tools and spare parts).  

The ISO 55001 Asset Management Standard that’s been gaining traction worldwide challenges maintenance organizations to confront their old paradigms. It cleverly does so by reframing the maintenance lens to not only focus on physical assets, but to re-define an “asset” to mean anything the maintenance department uses to add “value” to its organization. In effect, it broadens the term “asset” to include all non-physical or “soft” assets., e.g., asset-management-system models, programs, strategies, policies, procedures, work-order design, preventive-maintenance checklists, schedules, KPI’s, reports, drawings, red-lines, partner agreements, training, etc.

This paradigm shift essentially elevates a maintenance-management model into a more encompassing asset-management model. This requires the maintenance department to analyze its entire operation and ask, “Do we currently provide the best value to the organization?” And, more important, “Can we prove that we add value?”

Click Here To Read Ken Bannister’s March 14, 2021, Newsletter Column
“Do Your Current Practices Add Value?”

In the past, big-box stores and supermarkets brainwashed consumers into thinking the word “value” meant “cheap” or “less expensive,” based on “value-brand” labeled products offering name-brand imitations at lower quality and price points. The Oxford Dictionary’s primary definition, though, describes “value” as “the worth, desirability, or utility of a thing, or the qualities on which these depend.”

Whether minor or major, change is never easy. It can, though, be fun by challenging us to discover why we’ve always done something a certain way. When working with clients to assess value of their soft assets, I like to start with a story of how a tradition is born with meaning, but loses it’s meaning after one or more generations. It goes something like this:

A multi-generational family sits down to an annual holiday dinner. As always, the centerpiece of this meal is a lovely cooked ham. Resplendent in its basted coat of cloves, the ham is beautifully trimmed on either end, giving it a striking symmetry. The Granddaughter asks her Mother, “Why are the ham-ends trimmed so neatly?” The Mother, who doesn’t really have an answer, defers to the Grandmother for insight. The Grandmother follows suit, and defers to the family matriarch, the Great Grandmother. She, in turn, replies, “We always cut the ends off the ham to make it fit in our small oven. And it just became tradition!”

Many PMs at today’s sites have been adapted from machines that are no longer used, or that were initially scheduled more often than necessary to keep maintainers busy during slow periods. Undoubtedly, those traditional approaches were, at one time, relevant and value based. But probably not now.

Challenging the maintenance-management paradigm brings an organization into the present through recognition of all of its soft assets. This allows evaluation of those assets through a value filter to ensure they are meaningful and beneficial to the current and foreseeable operation. Sustainability of value is achieved through the development of a proving mechanism in the form of performance-measurement reporting designed to continually test the validity of the asset(s) on a regular, usually annual or biannual, basis.TRR


Ken Bannister has 40+ years of experience in the RAM industry. For the past 30, he’s been a Managing Partner and Principal Asset Management Consultant with Engtech industries Inc., where he has specialized in helping clients implement best-practice asset-management programs worldwide. A founding member and past director of the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association of Canada, he is the author of several books, including three on lubrication, one on predictive maintenance, and one on energy reduction strategies, and is currently writing one on planning and scheduling. Contact him directly at 519-469-9173 or kbannister@theramreview.com.

Tags: reliability, availability, maintenance, RAM, workforce issues, ISO 55001Asset Management Standard