It is interesting just stepping out of the African context back in to the US one. Back in late April 2014, I was at the TRB asset management conference in Miami and there were a lot of transport, transit system executives and asset managers at that conference because of the federal requirements for asset management for both highways and transit.
So I had a number of conversations with transit operators who are trying to maintain existing systems and it’s fair to say, this is light and heavy rail, as well as bus-ways, as well as other transit systems and these are real challenges.
The US has the real challenge. It’s something like about 2,500 transit authorities and a lot of the assets were built sometime ago, again maybe 40, 50, 60 years ago and they’re really coming up for major maintenance or replacement.
And it’s how to do that when you’re operating a system without degrading your services. Some real challenges in there for transit operators because as you will know if you have used mass transport, transit systems knows, they don’t really stop. Often they don’t have alternatives in terms of, they don’t have duplicated capacity for major lines.
And I think talking about Auckland as New Zealand largest city it’s growing at the moment where there’s quite a significant investment being put into the expressway and motorway network to actually build up some redundancy or some resilience in that system.
Certainly there’s been a few times when I’ve been in Auckland and there’s accident or hold up in one part of the network and the network at that stage comes to a grinding halt because there’s no redundancy in the system.
And that’s a real challenge when you have a system that has no capacity to run beyond its usual means. And while that might be a problem on a day-to-day basis where you have some congestion all it takes is for one thing to go bit wrong and the system fails.
And that takes us nicely into, I guess the core of infrastructure asset management. This is coming back to, if I were starting again.
And this is life cycle asset management. So once you’ve dealt with the, know what service levels you’re aiming for, where the gaps are there and what your demand is doing and what your solutions might be there, be they non-asset solutions or you might need to build new assets or alternative assets.
So less expressways, more rapid transit in this example we’re talking about. Or different sources or treatment processes in water and wastewater.
Once you’ve done that thinking, the two other major components before you get into looking at the financials are examining risk across the network and we’ll just side step that at the moment, that might be for another day.
But life cycle asset management. So generally you start with acquiring or building new assets, examining your requirements there.
Then you look at operating those assets and maintaining them. And getting the efficiency where you can there – just having another look at what you doing there. Particularly optimizing or rationalizing your preventative maintenance programs.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Paulson via Flickr Creative Commons License