Tracking asset standards01 October 2020

What do railway tracks and brand reputation have in common? Both are defined as assets within the ISO 55000 family of standards, driving asset management to be a multi-functional discipline. Laura Cork reports

One glance at the news and it is immediately apparent that trying to reach a global consensus on any subject is no mean feat.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that PAS 55 – Publicly Available Specification number 55 – was welcomed with open arms in 2004, when it launched after consultations with multiple countries and industry sectors, both public and private. The first asset management standard, it became hugely popular and was adopted as the global default for best practice for the management of physical assets.

Fast forward a decade and the British Standards Institute (BSi), the UK national standards body representing ISO, together with the Institute of Asset Management, had led the call for an ISO standard for asset management. The result was the ISO 55000 series, developed and managed by ISO technical committee TC 251.

As a reminder, the series comprises: ISO 55000, the overview, principles and terminology; ISO 55001, the management standard requirements; and ISO 55002, the guidelines for the application of ISO 55001. All three were published in 2014, but the 55002 guidelines were revised and expanded in 2018 to include more clarification on the fundamentals of value, alignment, leadership and assurance, and included new guidance on ‘cross-cutting subjects’ to be considered as part of any system. (More recently ISO/TC 55010 has been added: see box item.)


Addressing asset management in its more traditional guise, PAS 55 focused on physical assets. However, there was a step change with the launch of ISO 55001 which took a much broader view of an asset – even including intangibles such as brand reputation.

For maintenance technicians and engineers, this may have seemed a curious move. How can brand reputation be managed in a similar way to railway tracks or factory machinery? Rhys Davies, chairman of the ISO’s TC 251, explains it thus: “The fundamental principles are the same. If you do nothing with things – and this applies to both a brand and rails – they deteriorate. Their value, or potential value, decreases.

“All assets need maintaining, so although the actions we take to maintain them might be different (for example, for rails this might be renewing them, whereas for brands it might be choosing to sponsor new events), both will benefit from long-term plans and strategies.”

Earlier this year, the Nottingham Express Tramway (NET) became the UK’s first light rail system system to be accredited to ISO 55001, when operator Nottingham Trams Ltd secured the certification.

That achievement followed a two-year investment programme, according to Nottingham Trams. Head of engineering Neil Cundy says: “Clearly, running a busy tram network is a complex operation involving a huge number of individual pieces of equipment – from trams to ticket machines.

“By achieving ISO 55001, we’ve demonstrated our ability to gain maximum use from those assets and reduce the risk of disruption due to faults, while customers benefit from an even more reliable service.”

The company already had a robust asset management strategy, some elements of which were based on the PAS 55 standard, Cundy states. “We realised we were in a position to work directly towards the more up-to-date, advanced standard,” he says, adding that the goals were improvements in operational performance, overall efficiency and implementation of best practice.

Important benefits have come, he adds, from the need to take a company-wide approach to asset management: “Instead of the engineering department working in isolation on the standard, it was hugely beneficial to engage with all other areas of the business – both for achieving the standard and for day-to-day operations.

“Overall, we found that achieving the standard encouraged us to make far better use of the information we already had, improved inter-departmental cohesion, and ensured that the organisational objectives and responsibilities were correctly aligned and well communicated.”


Just as each asset has a lifecycle, so too do ISO standards, which are reviewed every five years.

ISO 55002 was updated in 2018, so the current review of the asset management standard group covers ISO 55000 and 55001. BSi’s Charles Corrie, secretary for ISO TC 251, tells us that this review closes in December: “The results of the review will help TC 251 to decide if it will start revisions of these two standards next year.”

Corrie says there are two factors, in particular, likely to drive the decision to revise the standards: TC 251’s bank of up-to-date insight on asset management, which needs a home; and ISO’s common framework for the implementation of management standards, called the Annex SL High Level Structure (HLS).

As regards the first factor, he says: “A number of issues were considered during the 2018 revision of ISO 55002, with the thought that they might later be incorporated into ISO 55001. As such, TC 251 has a store of ideas that it has been building up, and would now like an opportunity to apply.”

On the second point, the HLS aims to make ISO management standards more user-friendly, in terms of structure and wording, so that all standards – whether for management of assets, quality, environment or safety, for example – align as seamlessly as possible and can be implemented more intuitively. “The HLS has recently been revised (and was approved in August), so there will be motivation to incorporate the changes into ISO 55000 and ISO 55001,” says Corrie.


BSI advice on moving from PAS 55 to ISO 55001:

Purchase the ISO 55001 standard:

TC 251 resources on the ISO 55000 series:

The latest addition to the series, ISO/TS 55010, on aligning asset management with financial functions:

BOX: Training roundup

In September, the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) launched a new online platform for its Foundation Award, an introduction to asset management principles, including an outline of the practices necessary for the ISO 55000 series.

Andy Watts, managing director of the IAM, says: “The IAM is very pleased to launch this online personal development opportunity, both as a response to the COVID-19 impact and as a part of a 2020 plan to offer more digital services and support our aim to promote and disseminate asset management best practice.”

Billed as “the perfect place to begin the asset management journey”, the course has five modules for study and completion at the candidate’s own pace. The course costs £175 plus VAT, with discounts offered for multiple employees. See for more information.

BSi’s training portfolio includes a two-day course on the fundamentals of asset management, promising to teach delegates the “latest thinking, processes, methods and tools in joined-up management of any types of asset”. For more information, go to

BSi’s follow-up to this is a one-day course on the requirements of ISO 55001, which explores in depth the organisational implications and benefits of meeting this standard. More details are at

Laura Cork

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