Do you have any advice on how to convince a small system that they need to have an asset management plan?
My advice is, that it’s very important to work with them on whatever their biggest problem is and show them how asset management can help them solve that issue as a way to get them bought in.
For example, if their biggest problem is many many pipe breaks, then think about how does asset management help them deal with that issue.
How we, say, shrink the program down to just dealing with pipe as the starting place. And say okay it’s inventory, maybe just the most critical pieces of pipe as the starting place.
Where are your bigger mains, where are your major transmission mains, maybe what’s the main that takes from your source to the distribution system in town. Do you have any of those single pipes where, if they would fail major problem would occur?
So, maybe start there, working out. Well what’s the situation with your pipes that are causing you the biggest problem?
Now let’s look at, what kind of problem you are actually having? Where are those breaks actually occurring?
Most of the time, they’re not randomly dispersed throughout the system. More often they occur on similar types of pipe, sizes, ages, soil conditions. There’s usually something in that community that is causing more breaks in one type of pipe or one particular area than another.
If we start focusing on what is really the nature of the problem, we can have a better solution.
So now instead of looking at, maybe they have, for argument sake 30 miles of pipe that’s fairly critical to them. And you find out that breaks are occurring in only, maybe a quarter mile of that 30-mile section.
Well now we’ve shrunk down what they have to do to only a quarter mile of the 30-mile. Now we reduce the cost of their actions going forward substantially.
And so many communities when they have breaks, (we’ve started seeing this in small communities) they say, “Oh we got to replace all the pipes” and you don’t.
You need to look at where the problems are and replace only those sections that really need it.
But the way you do that is by getting that information about:
- What’s your inventory?
- Where are the pipes?
- What kind of pipes are they?
- What level of service do you want?
- How many breaks per mile can you tolerate?
- And then looking at criticality, which pipes are most important?
- And then looking at, well can I replace just a small segment of my pipes and really make an impact on my breaks?
So that now instead of replacing 30 miles, I’m replacing a quarter mile or less. The cost differential would be tremendous.
Instead of being maybe 15 million to replace all their pipes, maybe it’s only a couple of hundred thousand because they’re shrinking it down to the pieces that really matter.
I think when you approach it more from what is your issue, your biggest issue you’re facing right now as a small community and how asset management help you solve that issue.
And then if we can address that issue, we can start expanding the program to, say, to the rest of your pipe; and now your wells, tanks, valves, hydrants, whatever else you happened to have in the system.
But sometimes when we go in as more of just a generic program if you will, okay take an inventory, do this, do that. It doesn’t have as much impact as if we can actually talk to them about, what are the issues you’re having and how you want to solve those issues using an asset management approach because you are managing your assets now but you’re not doing it in the most efficient, most cost-effective way possible.
If you change the way you manage your assets, you can have significant cost savings, efficiency benefits. But you kind of need to prove it to them by showing how asset management can actually work for a small community.