Still responding to a participant’s comment on using digital photography to build up infrastructure asset information, Heather asked Ross whether in New Zealand they are doing a lot with digital photography. Do you see systems using that as part of their record-keeping, she asked?
Yes, we do, Heather. And I think it’s just, anytime you’ve got a pipe open, somebody should be taking some photos of what you’ve got, simply because that’s a good opportunity.
But just what you’re saying, that I was thinking of one of the clients a while ago and a small rural authority, lots of small towns with quite small systems.
I think they’ve got, they look after 30 distinct systems in a whole lot of small towns and areas and spread over quite a large geographical area.
And one of the things that they felt they were missing in above all of the keeping digital photos and that was that their engineers and their asset managers, they’re losing what they’ve to say as a feel for what was going on on the field.
And so, it’s just being able to make the right decisions quickly sometimes when you need to. And so what we did is we helped them and we said hey, let’s look at the risk profile of your pipe.
Well, categorize them really simple, there’ll be the low-risk pipe, there will be medium risk pipe and there are high-risk pipes.
And we said, well look, we’re going to have some different, treat this differently.
So with a low-risk pipe, typically in just a small back of the town or one single street or whatever it was, their standard was, they could have up to five breaks over two or three years I think (from memory) before they’d replace that pipe. And I didn’t need engineers to involve for those ones.
At the other end of the scale with the high-risk pipes, and this would be, maybe they feed in from the bore fields of the town or “if you lose that everybody’s out of water type” thing.
They made the decision that when they got a break, not only will they take the digital photos but they would call the engineer and that they would go and have a look.
So that before you fix the pipe and before you, or as you’re fixing it, you have your field supervisor and your senior engineer, standing looking at the whole, talking about the problem, talking about whether they needed to do something about it, there and then, or they need to replace the pipe or whatever.
So what we are trying to do is say, hey look in these high-risk circumstances, we want all the experience we can bring to bear on that problem so that we don’t overlook it and so that everybody stays on top of it.
And there, things worked really very well for them.
So that they’re still collecting those records but also you know, there’s nothing like having experienced heads looking at problems at the right time, to make sure that they don’t get worse problems.
So keep those digital photos coming. Great idea for a good infrastructure asset management.
If you don’t have a camera, that might be an investment that you and your utility want to make.
Either through some kind of smartphone that takes pictures of, you know, a tablet kind of device or just a camera itself.
They’re actually not very expensive these days so, if you don’t have a digital camera at your utility, I think it’s well worth the investment.
PHOTO CREDIT: Snowy Bridge, Sorensen, California by Jonathan via Flickr Creative Commons License