Evoenergy owns and operates 2358km²  of electricity network and over 4563km of gas mains. Its networks supply electricity to over 190,000 residential and business customers across the ACT and 130,000 gas customers in the ACT and NSW. The utility achieved ISO 55001 certification in January 2018 after overhauling its asset management system, resulting in improved operational efficiencies and reduced costs.

Previously known as ActewAGL, the organisation rebranded its electricity and gas networks business to Evoenergy in January 2018 after the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) introduced new naming guidelines in November 2017.

The name change is to help avoid customer confusion over the retail and infrastructure arms of ActewAGL. ActewAGL will continue as the retail brand, selling electricity and gas and looking after billing and customer enquiries.

In the same month as the name change, Evoenergy also achieved a huge milestone in asset management — ISO 55001 certification.

ISO 55001 specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining and improving an organisation’s asset management system, providing validation that the organisation has a proactive, continuous improvement culture focused on improved efficiencies and enhanced performance.

Mike Schulzer, Principal Engineer, Asset Management Systems at Evoenergy, was given the job of assessing the maturity of Evoenergy’s former asset management system against the standard and determining where the deficiencies were.

“It was then a matter of preparing documents and systems to meet the deficiencies, or informing those parts of the organisation that were not meeting the standard on how to make the upgrade,” Mr Schulzer said.

“It was also important to map Evoenergy’s capabilities against ISO 55001 to be able to demonstrate to the auditor how we met the standard.”

Evoenergy underwent a complete restructure of its asset management system to meet the requirements of ISO 55001, designing a new system that included better risk management and better prioritisation of investment.

“The basis of the restructure was changing the way assets were managed from a time-based service, maintenance and replacement program to one that was based on risk. In order to do that, emphasis was placed on understanding the criticality of our assets and their condition,” Mr Schulzer said.

“Instead of routine overhauls, the condition of critical assets is now assessed with instrumentation, and intervention only takes place where required. Where the failure of an asset doesn’t affect our customers because of backup, we run those assets to the end of their life before replacing them for optimum economy. Our maintenance budget is now based on evidence of the condition of our assets rather than the previous budget with an escalation factor.”

The pathway to establishing a new asset management system

The main challenge Evoenergy faced in meeting the certification requirements was implementing change in an industry that, historically, has been slow to adopt new innovations and ways of doing things.

“The electricity distribution industry is conservative by nature. We provide an essential service, take safeguards in dealing with a dangerous substance and manage expensive assets with long lifespans. The challenge is that changes in our business need to be proven to be safe and effective before they are implemented,” Mr Schulzer said.

“Fortunately, the employees in Evoenergy are experienced and highly qualified, and understand how to implement these changes and manage risk at the  same time. The changes were made at a deliberate pace, with plenty of consultation and change management at each stage.”

Mr Schulzer said that the main benefit of implementing ISO 55001 is the assurance that the assets of the organisation are being managed to the requirements  of the owners and stakeholders.

“This means attaining a balance of cost, risk and performance, and providing assurance to the entire organisation on how to achieve that balance, and demonstrating to top management that it has indeed  been achieved.

ISO 55001 also demands that the organisation is  on a continual learning curve, and that cost, risk and performance is improved, year on year.”

Mr Schulzer had the following advice for other utilities looking to achieve ISO 55001:

    • Ensure top management support. In the long run, top management needs to be supportive of asset management development, and be willing to implement the eight key activities suggested by John Kotter in Leading Change. It is accepted that top management will inevitably be distracted with disruptions, restructures and new management trends, but development can continue to progress provided the right staff are assigned to continue the process
    • Dedicated long-term commitment is required by an asset management specialist (or team) that is prepared to use influence and opportunities to nudge the organisation in the right direction
    • Develop documentation that is well organised, defining the scope of, and covering all aspects of the asset management system
    • Develop sound asset information systems  to support the asset management system
    • Undertake periodic, appropriate assessment and reports, including formal audits

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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