Will ISO 55000 Work for U.S. Food Manufacturing?

Work-order prioritization occurs in every plant. A new asset-management approach promises to add value and risk assessment to the calculation of what gets done and when.

By Kevin T. Higgins, Managing Editor

Hard HatsBailing wire and chewing gum are two options for squeezing value out of production equipment, but if triage isn’t standard operating procedure in your plant, consider adopting a new series of ISO asset management tools.

The concepts behind ISO 55000 and related standards are familiar to any maintenance and repair professional. Asset management and lifecycle assessment have been part of the landscape for years. The ISO 55000 asset system builds on that foundation.

Not too many years ago, American manufacturers viewed ISO standards as too European, eyeing them with “why do we need it?” disdain, allows Jon Stevens, vice president of SKF USA Inc., citing ISO 9000 as an example. But U.S. industry eventually accepted and sought ISO 9000 certification, and Stevens predicts “the culture is ready” for ISO 55000 because “it provides a framework to learn from your mistakes.” Think of it as the Shewhart cycle with a preliminary step: system development followed by plan, do, check and act.

Known primarily as a bearings manufacturer, Lansdale, Pa.-based SKF provides maintenance and repair services. Lifecycle management is a particular emphasis, Stevens explained at a recent technical presentation at the headquarters of NASCAR competitor Team Penske in Mooresville, N.C.

Besides serving as a sponsor, SKF is involved in numerous reliability projects with the racing team. Travis Geisler, the team’s director of competition, echoed Stevens’ lifecycle management message and the need for “relentless, unmerciful refinement” in MRO practices.

The philosophy and methodology of ISO 55000 is consistent with approaches to food safety, worker safety, quality management and other change-management and continuous-improvement structures. Planning involves cross-functional work teams. When undesirable outcomes occur, the root cause of failure is determined. If failure is the result of a flaw in the plan, corrective actions are taken and the plan is changed. Most importantly, support and advocacy begins at the top of the organization.

A common criticism of hazard and critical control points (HACCP) implementation is that it sometimes is relegated to a middle manager or the quality assurance department. A key element of the Food Safety Modernization Act shifts the onus for enforcement to the C-suite to ensure the entire organization is focused on executing the plan.

The word standard connotes a rigid, prescriptive approach, which helps explain Americans’ natural resistance and push back. But standards have morphed to something closer to guidance and structure. An example is the PackML/ISA TR88.00.02 standard.

While PackML standardizes the nomenclature for state modes, tag names and other elements of computer code driving PLCs and other controls, it doesn’t standardize the code itself. The intent is to provide a common “look and feel” to the code, proponents often say, so that the structure used by the engineer who wrote it is understood by engineers attempting to integrate the code with other software systems.

Ready for prime time?

As with other ISO standards, ISO 55000's first one primarily speaks to senior management, with supporting standards that focus on implementation requirements (ISO 55001) and guidelines (ISO 55001). For the maintenance professionals responsible for keeping plant-floor assets humming, 55002 may be the most useful. Unfortunately, 55002 also is the weakest, notes Michael Poland, director-asset management at the consultancy Life Cycle Engineering Co., Charleston, S.C.

“You have to have a fundamental asset management strategy to begin with, and from there you develop a plan to manage within those constraints, so the committee focused on 55000 and 55001,” explains Poland. The committee faced a February deadline to finalize all three standards, though, and the guidelines are vague and lacking in details. They may not have been ready for prime time, but Poland expects them to be quickly revised and made more useful to organizations.

Vagueness is an issue with 55002, agrees Bruce Hawkins, another maintenance & reliability expert and director-technical excellence at Emerson Reliability Consulting Group, a Sandy Hook, Conn., firm acquired in March by Emerson Process Management. Hawkins is lobbying fellow members of the 55000 project committee that developed the standard to quickly form a technical committee to expedite 55002’s revision.

“We’re in favor of turning ourselves into a technical committee and staying evergreen,” waiving the typical five-year wait between revisions, he adds. Much of the vagueness stems from a broader definition of assets. It extends beyond physical equipment and machine and includes intellectual property, brand image and other intangibles.

Anything that delivers value and carries risk is considered an asset. ISO 55000 guides top management in aligning the asset management policy with business objectives. After each asset is identified, a plan to manage that asset throughout its lifecycle is developed and aligning the plan with the resources available to support it.

Prioritizing the value of an organization’s assets requires a cross-functional team, Poland emphasizes, with representatives of maintenance, engineering, accounting, supply chain, human resources and top management. The review goes beyond an asset’s importance to daily throughput and considers mitigating factors such as how long a product will be in the company’s portfolio, special skills required to operate and maintain the machine, how difficult it is to acquire and retain those skills and other calculations not typically associated with physical assets.

Feed the pedigreed dog

Ranking the criticality of assets on the food production floor already is done, albeit informally in most plants, points out Paul LaChance, president and chief technology officer of Smartware Group Inc., Center Harbor, N.H. “There usually are professionals on the shop floor who know which assets are most important and must take priority in the work-order queue,” says LaChance. “Somebody has to make that assessment.”

Equipment criticality is addressed in RIME — Ranking Index for Maintenance Expenditure — when a maintenance crew begins its day, he continues. “When you submit a work order, it’s human nature to automatically assign top priority for the order because you want attention now. That’s a game that changes all the time.”

His firm tries to address it in its computerize maintenance management system (CMMS), Bigfoot software. Each asset is rated from essential to nonessential, and that score is applied to the priority rating assigned to the work order to rank order the jobs maintenance will execute.

The difference with ISO 55000 is that the knowledgeable veteran’s assessment is placed in the context of company-wide assets. A shutdown on a line that is building inventory might be a lower repair priority than a slowdown on a line that is producing for a key customer. Software tools like CMMS, Hawkins observes, are not equipped to account for situations that jeopardize business objectives, but a comprehensive asset management system can.

LaChance acknowledges the limits of CMMS. “Software is only part of this,” he says. Even as a maintenance management tool, CMMS packages require users to receive consulting support and training on leveraging the data to derive full value. When organizations skip this need, they are much more likely to be dissatisfied with the outcome. “It’s like buying a plane and skipping the pilot training," he concludes.

American resistance to ISO 9000 eventually faded when it became clear that international commerce required certification. Growing global trade in food and beverages could have the same affect on ISO 55000 adoption. Insurance underwriters are another driver: asset management is assumed to lower risk in financial markets, and the same assumption will be applied to manufacturing.

“Insurance companies are going to double, triple premiums of companies that don’t understand their value stream and the risks in poorly maintained equipment because of the lack of an asset management plan,” Poland predicts.

Organizational change requires attitude adjustment. To realize the line of sight enhancements and other benefits, food executives determined to implement ISO 55000 will have to clearly communicate the rationale and the business benefits.

“The people turning the wrenches and doing the changeovers need to understand that the asset management plan is a way to achieve your business objectives,” Poland emphasizes. By monetizing the risks in various actions, adds Hawkins, maintenance professionals will be able to blunt arbitrary budget cuts by pointing out the implications for asset life and usefulness.

The positives outweigh the negatives, experts agree. The food industry won’t embrace ISO 55000 soon, but the framework is consistent with how modern companies conduct businesses, and it will happen. 

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