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Essay: Implementation of certified asset management system at Westland Infra

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Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1. Research problem

Westland Infra is a regional grid operator that manages the gas distribution network and electricity network within the municipality of Westland and Midden Delfland in the Netherlands.

To manage these networks, Westland Infra has introduced a certified PAS55 asset management system in 2011 and replaced it in 2015 for an ISO55001 certified asset management system. By the introduction of a PAS55 or ISO55001 certified asset management system, the financial performance and asset performance are expected to improve (British Standards Institution 2008)(British Standards Institution 2014b). Despite the introduction of this certified asset management system, there is no apparent change in the asset performance and the costs to manage the network are increasing.

This thesis will investigate the implementation of the certified asset management system at Westland Infra, aiming to clarify why the expected benefits are not realised in practice.

1.2. Research objectives

The aim of the project is to create an optimised asset management system for the gas distribution network of Westland Infra to optimally contribute to the organisational objectives and lead to an increase in asset performance and financial performance.

The objective of the project will be an optimised asset management system for the gas distribution network of Westland Infra including:

  • Asset management policy
  • Strategic asset management plan
  • Asset management objectives
  • Asset management plan(s)
  • Best practices for the supporting processes
  • Best practises for performance evaluation and improvement

In addition the project also will include a business case to move from the current asset management system to the updated version as well as a strategy and roadmap to make the transition from the current system to the new situation.

1.3. Research approach

The first step is to describe the desired future situation of the asset management system for Westland Infra. This future situation will be referred to as the SOLL situation. To set up the SOLL situation a literature study and interviews will be executed. The literature study will focus on how to set up an asset management system and to find best practices. The interviews are intended to get the relevant organizational information (organization plan and objectives), required for optimization of the asset management system.

When the SOLL situation is described, the current situation of the asset management system will be identified by literature study of the available documents with regard to Asset Management at Westland Infra and by interviewing the Asset Owners and Asset Managers. This current situation will be referred to as the IST situation. When both the IST and SOLL situation are identified a gap analysis will be executed between them.

It is important to start defining the SOLL situation to prevent biasing the investigation towards what can be improved from the current situation instead of looking what the future situation should look like.

In parallel a root cause analysis is executed to find the reason why Westland Infra is not getting their expected improved asset performance and financial performance. The outcome of this analysis will be used to identify which gaps from the gap analysis are the most important to close.
The gap analysis and root cause analysis are both inputs for determination of the added value for each gap closure. This will form the business case to determine which gaps will be important to close. After the added value analysis a strategy and roadmap made on how to best implement the proposed improvements. All together this will lead to the proposal for improvement. The methodology is translated into a research framework shown in figure 1.1

figure 1.1: Research framework

Chapter 2. Literature review

2.1. Asset Management and its benefits

As outlined in the research objectives the aim of this research is to create an optimised asset management system. However, a lot of definitions for the term asset management are used around the world (Lloyd 2010). The definition in this research will be “the coordinated activity of an organization to realize value from assets” (British Standards Institution 2014a p14). This definition of the British Standards Institution is chosen because Westland Infra is certified for ISO55001 standard. The British Standards Institution (2014a p13) describes an asset as “item, thing or entity that has potential or actual value to an organization” in which “value can either be tangible or intangible, financial or non-financial and includes consideration of risks and liabilities”.
The description of an asset management system according to the British Standards Institution (2014a p4) is “a set of interrelated and interacting elements of an organization, whose function is to establish the asset management policy and asset management objectives, and the processes needed to achieve those objectives”.

In the ISO55000 standard the benefits for an asset management system are described. The benefits of asset management can include improved asset performances and financial performance (British Standards Institution 2014a). However the implementation of an asset management system doesn’t automatically mean that these benefits will be achieved. Results of 17 international case studies on asset management show that not all implementations were successful right away. Important lessons that can be learned are that asset management should not only been seen as a function or a department. It should be a strategic approach, as benefits can only be fully realised when asset management is seen as collectively coordinated activities (Lloyd 2014). It should be noted however that these case studies were all based on anecdotal evidence and not on scientific evidence.

Schippers and Dik (2013), both member of a consultancy organisation, have drawn an outline business case for asset management, based on their experience and discussion with clients. The business case included the benefits, the effort required to implement them and their financial impact. The claim is made that benefits can add up to 15% of the total spending portfolio by better decision-making and another 5% by improving efficiency (including the service provider).

Outline business case of Schippers and Dik is used in Chapter 10 Business case

According to Hodkiewicz (2015), the evidence for asset management is currently largely based on anecdotal evidence and the prescriptions of consulting organisations and industry associations. Hodkiewics points out that the claims for improved asset performance and financial performance by the ISO55001 standard should be substantiated with scientific evidence. A study for such evidence should include measuring the costs of asset management and demonstrating that asset management practice delivers the organizational outcomes.

In the Netherlands a study has been performed among 30 asset managers from organisations managing infrastructures for energy, transportation, water and communication. Result showed that while they all had an asset management system implemented, it had not brought them beyond the first promising steps. (Wijnia and Herder 2010). The study aimed towards finding the key issues for not reaching these benefits across all sectors. The key issues were found to be:

  • Asset Management not being at implemented at strategic level. The focus should be on what can be accomplished with the current assets instead of reducing operational costs. In addition organizational objectives should be translated into day-to-day applicable internal targets and asset performance criteria;
  • A paradigm shift has to occur from the “old” maintenance principles to life cycle costing;
  • Performance models to predict future performance of the assets and their maintenance needs are not used, as many people consider the models as too theoretical;
  • The lack of recognition of the importance of non-technical issues like economics and social elements.

A study among the Dutch grid operators has been performed in 2014. It became apparent that while they have registered positive effects on the internal organizational effectiveness, the increased financial and asset performance as a result of implementing an AMS were not gathered among the most relevant positive factors so far (Gaarenstroom 2014). One recommendation for further research was the statistical analysis of data to possibly provide evidence of the asset management system. Another recommendation was to focus on the changes in the effectiveness of the grid operators due to the asset management system.

From these studies it can be concluded that the claimed benefits in the ISO55001 standard are not so obvious to achieve. However, in the case of Westland Infra the question is not whether to continue with the AMS or not, but how to get the best out of it. Therefore the outcomes of these studies provide possible clues for improvement of the asset management system of Westland Infra.

Summarizing the issues in this literature review, involved with not achieving the benefits of asset management, leads to the following list:

  1. The use of a strategic approach at strategic level
  2. The measurement of costs and performance of the AMS
  3. The application of life cycle costs
  4. Use of performance models to predict asset performance
  5. Recognition of importance of non technical skills

These five key issues will be compared with the implemented asset management system of Westland Infra to find possible improvements for the asset management system to achieve improved asset and financial performance.

The identified five key issues from this literature review are used in Chapter 4 SOLL situation and Chapter 6 IST situation: Key issues literature review.

2.2. Best practises

The ISO55001 standard provides a very valuable structure, however it only defines ‘what’ needs to be done and not ‘how’ it should be done (Woodhouse 2014). For this ‘how’ part, best practises can be used to fill these gaps. But what are best practises? A variety of definitions exist.
The Cambridge Dictionary describes best practise as “a working method or set of working methods that is officially accepted as being the best to use in a particular business or industry, usually described formally and in detail” (Cambridge University Press 2016).

Gulati (2013), a delegate from the United States in the ISO committee, describes best practise as: “Best practise is an idea which asserts that there is a technique method, or process that is more effective at delivering a desired outcome than any other technique, method or process”.

Wireman (2015) another delegate from the United States in the ISO committee described it as “Best practise is a series of processes that enables a company to become a leader in its respective marketplace, where best is determined by the business conditions, not by a fixed set of business practices”.
All three definitions speak of methods or processes that are the best to use, are most effective in delivering a desired outcome or enables becoming a business leader. These parts are quite in line with each other. However there are also noteworthy differences. The Cambridge Dictionary refers to that the method must be officially accepted and another difference is that Terry Wireman makes the distinction that best is determined by the business conditions. Although the definitions are not exactly the same they can coexist and make each other even stronger. In this research methods or processes will be sought for that are officially accepted in delivering the desired outcome and it will be investigated whether these fits into the business of Westland Infra.
Globally, professional maintenance and asset management societies are established to share information and create knowledge. These societies are associated in the Global Forum on Maintenance and Asset Management (GFMAM) association (Global Forum On Maintenance & Asset Management 2016). One of projects is the asset management landscape, which is a framework to enable asset management knowledge and practices to be compared, contrasted and aligned around a common understanding of the discipline of asset management. In figure 2.1 this framework has been shown. The core represents the 39 asset management subjects that have been established to describe the scope of asset management. These are the same for every member of the GFMAM. The inner ring represents the knowledge and practices area. Each GFMAM member can insert here his own knowledge and practises it has developed, but it is intended that they will be aligned with the core. Finally the outer ring represents the supporting items for the knowledge, practices and fundamentals that are not considered within the scope of asset management but may influence the asset management decisions. (Global Forum On Maintenance & Asset Management 2014)

Figure 2.1: Asset management landscape (Global Forum On Maintenance & Asset Management 2014 p6 diagram 1)

Some of the members of the GFMAM have developed a certification program. Figure 2.2 shows these members. However not all members have a certification program for asset management. Only the Institute of Asset Management and the Asset Management Council have certification program for Asset Management (Asset Management Council 2014a). Therefore is explored how the Institute of Asset Management and the Asset Management Council have filled the asset management landscape.

figure 2.2: GFMAM Members with certification options (a015 AM council)

Both the Institute of Asset Management and the Asset Management Council have inserted their knowledge in the asset management framework. The outcome is shown in table 2.1. The information within the table has been constructed by information from the website of the Institute of Asset Management and the website of the Asset Management Council. The table shows a lot of similarity between the approaches of both associations. Main differences are that the Asset Management Council offers trainers and the Institute of Asset Management does not. The Institute of Asset Management only assesses the trainers and then offers the endorsed trainers. The other difference is that the Institute of Asset Management offers a competence framework and the Asset Management Council doesn’t.

table 2.1: Compare input Asset Management Landscape of the Institute of Asset Management and the Asset Management Council

Institute of Asset Management offers: / Asset Management Council offers:

Assessment methodology

  • Self assessment methodology

Guidelines

  • Maturity guideline
  • Companion Guide to ISO 55001

Asset Management Maturity Knowledge

  • Asset Management – an anatomy
  • Subject Specific Guidelines
  • AMBoK Framework for Asset Management

Qualifications

  • IAM certificate
  • IAM diploma
  • Individual certification
  • Organisational certificate

Training

  • Assesses endorsed trainers
  • Delivers schedule of courses
  • Asset Management Fundamentals Course
  • How to develop a Strategic Asset Management Plan Seminar
  • How to develop an Asset Management Plan Seminar
  • In-house training courses

Competence framework 

  • Competence framework requirements
  • Competence framework guidance

Conceptual models

  • The IAM conceptual Asset Management model
  • Asset Management Concept Model
  • Asset Management System Model
  • Organisational System Model
  • Capability Delivery Model
  • Maturity Model

Awards

  • IAM awards
  • Excellence awards
  • Individual awards

Information from documents in table 2.1 is used throughout the report as referencing material about best practices.

The Institute of Asset Management and the Asset Management Council have both created an assessment method. The assessment method of the Instituted of Asset Management consists of a described guideline and an assessment tool including 39 questions an 87 sub questions based on the clauses within the ISO55001 standard (The Institute of Asset Management 2014a). The assessment method of the Asset Management Council only consists out of described guideline including 71 questions that are based on the ‘shall’ statements of the ISO55001 standard (Asset Management Council 2014b). The methods are quite similar with extra notes on the background information on the questions and what the situation should look like for a system that meets the requirements of the ISO55001 standard. The major difference is that the method of the Institute of Asset Management describes different maturity stages that can be scored on and give the opportunity to assess against the 39 asset management subjects of the asset management landscape (The Institute of Asset Management 2015a), whereas the Asset Management council only describes the maturity stage that is necessary to be certified for the BSI ISO55001 standard. Tennet network, the Dutch national electricity grid operator, made around 10% improvement in total company performance by each maturity step using the method of the Institute of Asset Management (Woodhouse 2010) In this research the method of the Institute of Asset Management is selected because of the extra options (for future use) and the experience of Tennet. The ISO 55001 maturity scale is shown in figure 2.3. The maturity level 3 ‘Competent’ is the minimum requirement to be ISO55001 certified.

figure 2.3: ISO 55001 Maturity scale (The Institute of Asset Management 2014a p10 figure 2)

The information about the self-assessment methodology and the maturity scales is used in Chapter 4 SOLL situation and Chapter 5 IST situation: Self-assessment methodology.

Alongside the best practises for asset management there is a Dutch Technical Agreement about asset management available for the regional grid operators. This Dutch Technical Agreement is the NTA8120.

This agreement describes how regional gas and electricity network operators can fulfil in the demands for their asset management system derived from the applicable legislation. In this document the distribution system operator is the regional grid operator. The structure of the content in the NTA8120 is the same as in the ISO 55001 standard. However in the appendix of the NTA 8120 recommendations and examples are provided targeted at regional grid operators (The Netherlands Standardization Institute 2014).

Westland Infra is intending to become certified for the NTA8120 in 2016 (Westland Infra 2015a). This certification will be alongside the ISO55001 certification and will not replace ISO55001 certification.

Chapter 3. AMS Westland Infra

This chapter gives a high level overview of the asset management system of Westland Infra.

Westland Infra operates both in the ‘regulated market’ and ‘free market’. The operation of the gas distribution network is part of the regulated market, which means these activities are supervised by the government. To be specific, two regulators supervise the gas distribution sector. One is the safety regulator States Supervision of Mines and the other is the economic regulator Authority for Consumers and Markets.

The governance model of Westland Infra is shown Figure 3.1. On the left side the ‘regulated market’ shown and on the right side the ‘free market’. The dotted line around the ‘regulated market’ should represent the boundaries of the asset management system. However the dotted line doesn’t include the strategy, multi year plans and operational plans for the department asset management, although they are a part of the asset management system (Westland Infra 2015b).

Figure 3.1: Governance model Westland Infra (Westland Infra 2015c p4 figure 1)

The organization structure of Westland Infra is divided in staff departments, supporting department and line departments. Each department has its own manager. Together they form the management team of Westland Infra.

The asset management department is a part of the line departments as outlined in figure 3.2. The other two line departments are Project Management and Sales. The department Project Management delivers services for the Sales department, but is also the internal service provider of the Asset Management department.

figure 3.2: Organization structure Westland Infra (Westland Infra 2015a p14 figure 2.2)

The role of asset owner is delegated to the manager asset management by the board of directors. The department asset management has the role of asset manager and the department project management has the role of (internal) service provider.

The asset owner determines the policy and strategy at Westland Infra, the asset manager is responsible for translating the policy and strategy in operational- and multiyear plans. The role of the service provider is to execute the activities from the plans safely, effectively and for market competitive prices. The division with their responsibilities, inputs and outputs is shown in the asset management pyramid in figure 3.3.

figure 3.3: Asset management pyramid (Westland Infra 2015a p15 figure 2.3)

Westland Infra has created a line of sight from its mission and vision to the operational year plans. This translation is shown in figure 3.4.

figure 3.4: Line of sight Asset Management Westland Infra (Westland Infra 2015b p1 figure 1)

An important fundamental of the asset management system of Westland Infra is the PDCA cycle. Westland Infra tries to set up a PDCA cycle on all levels within the asset management system. The PDCA cycle of the entire asset management system is shown in figure 3.5 and in figure 3.6 the PDCA cycle of the risk management process is shown. The risk management system is a part of the supporting processes as stated under number 4 in the PDCA cycle of the entire asset management system.

figure 3.5: PDCA circle asset management system (Westland Infra 2015a p17 figure 3.1)

figure 3.6: PDCA cycle risk management process (Westland Infra 2015a p22 figure 3.3)

Requirements of the stakeholders are translated into the six company values: (1) safety, (2) quality of delivery, (3) finance, (4) reputation, (5) laws and regulations and (6) sustainability (Westland Infra 2015b). These six company values are processed in the risk matrix of Westland Infra shown in figure 3.7.

figure 3.7: Risk matrix (Westland Infra 2014 p2 figure 0.1)

Identified risks are assessed against the risk matrix. During the assessment, risks control measures are formulated. The Project Prioritization Model determines which control measures will be recorded in the investment and operational plans and therefore will be executed. A visualization of the Project Prioritisation Model is given in figure 3.8.

figure 3.8: Visualisation Project Prioritisation Model (Westland Infra 2015a p24 figure 3.5)

Chapter 4. SOLL situation

In this chapter the SOLL situation for the asset management system of Westland Infra is described.

As outlined in the research objective the asset management system must optimally contribute to the organizational objectives and lead to an improved asset performance and financial performance.

To achieve these objectives in the SOLL situation the asset management system must have solved the key issues for not achieving the benefits of an asset management system identified in the literature review must be resolved. These identified key issues are:

  1. The use of a strategic approach at strategic level
  2. The measuring of costs and performance of the AMS
  3. The application of life cycle costs
  4. Use of performance models to predict asset performance
  5. Recognition of importance of non technical skills

Westland Infra has outlined in their management statement for quality management that the asset management system needs to be certified (Westland Infra 2015c). This means that in the SOLL situation an asset management system must be available that meets the requirements of ISO 55001 certification. To determine if the system meets the requirements it must be assessed with the assessment methodology of the Institute of Asset Management and score minimal ‘Competent’ on each of the clauses of the ISO55001 standard.

The organizational objectives of Westland Infra must be optimally supported by the asset management system, however no organizational objectives for the grid operator are stated within the organizational plan. Instead of organizational objectives Westland Infra has a strategy for the grid operator described:

“The strategy of the grid operator focuses on the improvement of the risk based asset management. Technological developments make it possible that more information of the assets is available and faster accessible. More information about the assets makes it possible to monitor more accurately, make better risk assessments and achieving cost optimization by adjusting the maintenance programs to these assessments.” (Westland Infra 2015c p5)

The improvements from the IST situation to the SOLL situation must be in line with this stated strategy to secure that the asset management system optimally supports the organizational plan.

Based on interviews with the asset owners it became clear that the asset management system was implemented for the following reasons:

  • To show that the risks are being controlled
  • To bring alignment between maintenance and investment plans and the activities that are executed in the network
  • To show the regulator a demonstrable asset management system

On the question what benefits of the asset management system are achieved the only two on which both asset owners agreed were controlled risks and demonstrable compliance [bron]. This implies that the system was implemented successfully; therefore it is important that these benefits will remain in the SOLL situation.

Summarized, the asset management system in the SOLL situation should bring:

  • A system meting the requirements of the ISO55001 requirements (by assessing the asset management system and closing the gaps where the requirements are not achieved)
    A system that is able to achieve financial improvement as well as improvement in the performance of the assets (by addressing the key issues from the literature review)

Moreover, the actions for gap closure between the IST and SOLL situation should be in line with the organizational strategy and should still allow achieving the current benefits.

Chapter 5. IST situation: Self-assessment methodology

This chapter describes the current situation of the asset management system of Westland Infra assessed against the self-assessment methodology of the Institute of Asset management.

Following the self-assessment methodology of the Institute of Asset Management, an evaluation of the asset management system of Westland Infra was executed. The evaluation is executed based on the outcomes of the interviews with the asset owners and asset managers in appendix I and by research of internal documents of Westland Infra. The outcome is shown in figure 5.1. Each of the axes in the radar chart represents a clause from the ISO 55001 standard. Scoring on the boundary between the white and the blue indicates the ‘Competent’ level is achieved. Scoring in the white indicates a lower maturity level than ‘Competent’ and scoring in the blue indicates scoring beyond the minimum requirements of the ISO 55001 standard.

figure 5.1: Outcomes Self Assessment Methodology tool Institute of Asset management

Westland Infra scored ‘Competent’ on 15 of the 27 clauses of the ISO55001 standard. On the remaining clauses 11 times the ‘Developing’ level and once the ‘Aware’ level was scored. The justification for these scores is listed in appendix II. A summary of the clauses scoring on the ‘Developing’ scale and ‘Aware’ scale is given in table 5.1. A missing management of change procedure caused the score on the ‘Aware’ scale.

Between some of the clauses on the ‘Developing’ scale similarities can be identified like the missing of a structural approach and the control of information and documents. These similarities give the possibility to combine the closure of the gaps into three areas of improvement:

  • Control of information requirements and documents
    (combining clauses 5.2, 7.5, 7.6.1, 7.6.2 and 7.6.3)
  • PDCA cycle entire AMS
    (combining clauses 6.2.1, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3 and 10.3)
  • Control of changes
    (combining 8.2 and 10.1)

To get to the SOLL situation these areas need to be improved by closing the gaps on the clauses scoring on the ‘Developing’ and ‘Aware’ scale instead of the ‘Competent’ level.

table 5.1: Gaps from SAM tool

Clause Summary GAP Score

5.2 The AM policy is available and communicate, but it is unclear how the policy has been established, reviewed and updated. For example there is an AM policy described in both the topdocument as well as in the document RNB Asset management Beleid-doelstelling-planning. 2

6.2.1 No clear described translation from the requirements of the stakeholders to the AM objectives. For example no AM objectives formulated for the company values law & regulation or for sustainability. Linkage between decision making process and AM objectives not clear. Most of the AM objectives at the AMS level aren’t SMART formulated. 2

7.5 The organization has no centralised overview of what information is required for the support of managing the assets the AMS, the organizational objectives and the requirements of the stakeholders. There is also no overall process how to secure the data quality and alignment of definitions. 2

7.6.1 For the parts of the AMS that are equal to the quality management system (QMS) it has been determined what information is necessary for the effectiveness of the system. Whereas for the parts that are not a part of the QMS it is not described. 2

7.6.2 For the documents that are part of the QMS is described how the organization ensures that the information is appropriately identified, formatted, reviewed and approved when creating and updating documented information, whereas the documents that aren’t part of the QMS it isn’t described. 2

7.6.3 Documented information as part of the QMS are controlled, available and suitable for use where and when needed, whereas document that are not a part of the QMS this isn’t described. 2

8.2 No management of change procedure exists to ensure risks associated with planned changes are assessed and managed before the change is implemented, and there is no structural control on planned changes that can impact the asset management objectives. 1

9.1 The organization has no structured method to determine what needs to be monitored and measured, nor which information generated from it needs to be analysed, evaluated and reported. 2

9.2 The organization has set up an internal audit system to objectively evaluate whether the quality management system is in conformity with the requirements. However it should be noted that the scope of the audit is on the total quality management of the organization and not the asset management system. So during the audits the processes aren’t assessed on their contribution to the asset management system or the asset management objectives. 2

9.3 The organization has a procedure for a management review, however the scope of this review is on the evaluation of the entire organisation and not the asset management system, therefore the asset management objectives aren’t evaluated in the management review. 2

10.1 The organization has procedures for when nonconformities or incidents occur to control and correct these and deal with the consequences. But the scope is on the quality management system and not on the asset management system. 2

10.3 The organization demonstrates it is continually improving its asset management and asset management system, however the evaluation over the whole system (in the management review) isn’t clearly demonstrated. 2

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