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Step By Step Approach

Starting asset management with a step-by-step program allows us to drive improvements for the organization's immediate and most desirable needs / benefits.

To use this approach, we first produce a basic Asset Management Plan (AMP) for the entire asset portfolio and use it to:

  • Record all assets
  • Understand their value and current condition/performance
  • Predict their capital and maintenance investments
  • Understand the basic business risk exposure that these assets represent
  • Build a long-term funding model that includes implications for the organization and our customers.

Next we need to:

  • understand the Confidence Level Rating (CLR) that we have on this assessment
  • identify the key strengths and weaknesses in the processes followed and the data used / available.

Finally we implement improvement strategies to match the necessary CLR's to the investment decisions we need to make, including:

  • Capital investments for renewal of existing assets
  • Capital investments for new or augmented assets and services
  • Maintenance plans and strategies
  • Critical repair/replace decisions.

It is important to have a basic understanding of the two main philosophies that underpin this approach, namely:

  • The CLR is assessed on all major investment decisions, and on asset management plans and strategies. This requires a sound understanding of the different levels of quality in processes and practices and the data that has been used in those processes.
  • The organization's business value chain (BVC) and the TEAMQF secondary and tertiary quality elements in the CLR process add value to the final decisions made.

The step-by-step process integrates the key elements of a life-cycle asset management process and practice improvements with a data collection program, which is often the most costly part of AMP's.

By understanding the CLR and the BVC of each of the key investment strategies (operations, maintenance and capital - new assets or life extensions /renewals), we can clearly identify where our scarce resources can most appropriately match our highest business risk exposures or future cost reduction opportunities.

This initial 'gap analysis' is included with the basic asset management plan (AMP 1). We can now see our critical assets, their failure modes and our business risk exposure.

Now we have a clear roadmap for our future asset management improvement program. This approach allows us to:

  • Clearly understand which process and practice improvements will offer the best benefit / cost or return on our investment in the improvement program.
  • Clearly understand the data that is needed to improve our confidence level ratings, and on which assets this data should be collected first and which can be deferred.
  • Drive our training and other organizational and people issues to suit the expected benefits, in a cost effective way.

Now it is time to return to the initial needs analysis and rearrange our improvement projects to suit the actual needs of the organization and its assets and services.

We do this by using the improved information that is revealed in our first AMP1. In some cases, we will have set our priorities using good value judgments and these may prove to be very valid, with little change needed.

However, the discovery process that comes through developing our AMP1, completing the initial business risk exposure (BRE1), and CLR1 assessments means that we will need to significantly re-prioritize our draft asset management improvement program (AMIP), as shown below:

This AMP1 process has the additional benefits:

  • Provides proof of the benefits from real projects. These can then be reported to the board and / or elected members and other key stakeholders.
  • Provides the staff and management with on the job training in the new processes and practices.
  • Allows us to more easily prioritize our data capture requirements, based on the real needs of our assets and our decision-making processes. Because the AMP1 has a clear time schedule, it also shows when we need to collect the data. The detailed data collection strategy can be based on a just-in-time basis, rather than the normal "collect all data immediately approach" that is common in much of the US wastewater industry
  • The confidence level rating approach allows us to identify the data for the different levels of sophistication for Level 1, 2 or 3. For example - once we have a clear picture of our sewer collection system we can more readily identify the data collection needs in terms of:
    • Physical attributes
    • Current condition and performance trends
    • Maintenance records and trends
    • Renewal costs etc.
  • By understanding the CLR and BRE of the key elements of the AMP1, we can compare the data collection program that is essential and a program that takes into account economies of scale. For example:
    • We can look at cost reduction opportunities if we were to collect all data on assets that are adjacent to our most critical ones.
    • When we take into the account the cost of road closures and the provision of sewer cleaning equipment and CCTV facilities, there is a justification for completing the data collection in a small area rather than just collecting data on the most critical sewers.

However it is really important to justify this accelerated investment by applying the opportunity cost of capital to the period by which the work has been advanced, compared to a just-in-time data collection.

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