After all the questions by the participants were answered and discussed, Heather proceeded to talk about how water utilities could engage in asset management.
Well I just wanted to mention one of the things that have come up in the past and we’ve been talking a lot about this lately and kind of the issue around how sophisticated asset management has to be and how complicated.
That ties back to what Ross was talking about earlier, which was keeping things simpler and not making them complex.
Asset management is asking yourself questions
So I wanted to just talk just for a moment about a lot of what we’ve been telling people lately is, asset management is really about asking yourself questions.
- Why do I do what I’m doing?
- What is the reason that we do this sort of maintenance or that sort of maintenance?
- Why do I replace the oil on my pumps once every six months? What was that based on?
- Is that based on some analysis we did?
- Did somebody just tell us to do that 20 years ago? We haven’t thought about it since. Even though pumps and oil have changed substantially we still do the things we’ve always done.
And it’s really about asking simple questions to yourself.
- Do we do the right things to our pump station?
- We send somebody out there once a week to do two hours’ worth of maintenance. What they actually do when they get there?
- Is that the right set of stuff for them to be doing?
Are there better answers to these questions?
And using whatever tools we have, and maybe it’s a simple spreadsheet, maybe it’s some data or some paper form that we have out of the pump station. Maybe it’s a computer program that we bought, maybe it’s a GIS system.
So whatever tools we have, in the power of the knowledge of our operators and managers of our system, we got to put that to bear on these various questions to see if there are better answers.
And a lot of times, systems would find that they have much better answers when they take a look at those questions and they can save themselves a lot of money.
One utility that came to training a couple of weeks ago, had the very question of why are we changing the oil twice a year in our pumps? And did some analysis of the oil and found out that was really what not they should be doing.
At the very least, they could go once a year and possibly even every 18 months or maybe even every 2 years to replace the oil. It was going to save them considerable amounts of money. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars every time they replace the oil.
Asking questions is the key
So just asking yourself the question can be really the key thing. Instead of focusing a lot on what program should I be using, which a lot of people want to head down that road.
What program should I use? Should I use, this manufacturer’s program or that manufacturer’s program?
Keep it up and not have that be the focus as much as how can I ask myself questions? How can I get data to answer those questions?
And how can I maybe improve my operations by just, asking myself these simple questions about why do I do what I do?
And focus more on that as the thinking piece that goes into infrastructure asset management, which I think is the way more important part is thinking about things, getting data to help you answer those questions and then answering them in the better way to save yourself money and time and effort in that kind of thing.
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