On 21 January 2020, Ross Waugh and Heather Himmelberger held another Ask-the-Experts webinar titled, “Infrastructure Asset Management – How to Start.” Inframanage.com presents the webinar topics through a series of blog posts.
Great. So, we have covered the two that we have the most questions about. So, we will move into another topic. We have a fair number of questions on, kind of related to, what are some best practices that you can do around different types of asset management.
So, I thought it would be fun to have Ross talk about this because there’s been quite a bit more implementation of asset management in New Zealand than there has in the US.
Although we’re definitely increasing the number of systems doing asset management. And they have had a longer history with it.
So, I thought it would be an excellent chance to have Ross kind of talk about some of the lessons learned. Some of their experience with best practices in asset management.
Thank you, Heather. So just to give you a swift background. New Zealand had mandated by legislation, started asset management in 1996. So, it’s been a fair old while.
We have a 3-year political cycle, so we update our plans every three years. Here in the US, the suggestion would be, you do your updates every four years to line up with the political cycle.
And generally, it’s mandated in the legislation, which years they have to be updated. Still, it’s usually the newly elected politicians who get the opportunity to make investment decisions or to modify from the previous decisions. So, the plan updating is based on that.
So, we’re sort of into the 7th or 8th cycle of updating.
And one of the things, when I first started doing this stuff way back in 1996, I was like, okay, I’m going to do an asset plan and then I’m going to go back to real work, which is in my definition was building stuff again.
What you find out when you start doing asset management is there’s so much stuff you don’t know. And so many assumptions you have to make, and so many unknowns.
So, you have what’s called an improvement plan and then you kick on and start implementing the change that you observed, you need to update information as you get some more information.
And the authorities or the networks that have done well here in New Zealand have been the ones that haven’t stopped. So, they would do the mandated plan update and then they kick on.
And they go alright, what assumptions do we need to have a, get some better information on.
Are there some pipes that we know nothing about? Are we having some issues in a particular area that we need to do some more investigation on?
And then, they feed that back into their process and update their plan and their strategies from there.
We have others that finished the plan, and they know nothing for three years. And then they scramble in the next three years. What have we done? And things like that.
So just like any practice, if you are doing them regularly every month or every couple of months and updating information, you stay on top of it. You make a lot of minimal incremental gains that, over time, end up being substantial gain.
If you just, a very stop-start, once every four years, say here in the US, you will still make gains but not as many.
Because the real gains in terms of your implementation and your planning are:
- a better understanding of what’s going on your network,
- a better understanding of your condition and performance of your assets, and
- a better understanding of the risks and problems when they come.
And then as you go through that process in an intricate way by updating your understanding and by feeding that back into your processes and your practices, then it just imbeds in the organization and carries on through, and your reporting all stats, you know if you have monthly or quarterly reporting.
That all starts to flow through into that as well. And you start making very good value decisions based on better information.
I mean, buried assets, you never going to know everything. That’s a given.
But you can deal with what you don’t know with risk, risk analysis. So that’s the overview there.