And if you are a municipality or a water supply operator and you’re going, okay we are trying to get this long-term bang for the buck over that hundred years, you want to make sure you got it right at the front end because you lock all your cost and then you want to make sure that you look at the mix of rehabilitation, replacement, operations and maintenance around how do I get the optimal cost over the hundred years?
One of the things that are quite counterintuitive in there is, yes, the best telling time to buy new assets is when the price is cheap. The price is cheap in the middle of a recession because everybody just wants to do some work.
But what tends to happen, and it certainly happened with us 10 years ago in New Zealand as everybody went, oh we’ve got no money.
So, they spent no money for a while, at the time when the price in the longer term would have been the cheapest that had been in 30 or 40 years because the contractors and the people building assets just wanted work, they don’t have any work on them.
They just wanted to keep the crews going and pay the mortgage on the gear and that was it. They weren’t looking for a big profit.
And it’s very, very counterintuitive to human psychology but it’s about buying assets, smart buying them at the right time at the right cost and then getting that mix I think, as you’re saying, between operations and maintenance and replacement and new capital investment and getting that mix right. It’s not perfect but we can get it right or fairly close.
I think one of the things that we need to keep in mind is, replacement is often times the most expensive solution.
So, if we have other solutions that are maintenance, we’re actually doing the more efficient, more effective and using an asset management program we’re telling you that’s the right way to go, but when we get caught up in this, again the terminology and people shaky of investing on new stuff that’s good, maintaining old stuff that’s bad or spending money, we just really need to think about terminology.
If anybody out there has some thoughts of, have you done this, have you changed the mindset, please type it on the chatbox or even, later on, get in touch with us. I’d love to hear your stories and email us or whatever because it would be great to hear how do you change the dynamic and look at it as both of them are important and necessary but done at the right time, the right way.
One story I heard because I often tell people that part of the problem with maintenance is, there’s no ribbon cutting.
And people love to cut ribbons and love to put on the big show, get all the politicians, the governing body out there cut the big red ribbon with the big scissors and make a big fanfare.
And how do you do that with maintenance because maintenance is not that kind of thing? We’re not going to cut a ribbon to want somebody to pour oil in a pump or something.
But there’s one particular utility mentioned something I thought was really cool. They were doing some pipe, best called a pipe repair because just putting on a couple of segments here and there, it wasn’t a big long piece of pipe. So, it wasn’t a replacement project. It was more of a rehabilitation and repair type program.
And they said what they did is actually took the piece of pipe they’re putting in had all the people signed their name on the pipe and then inserted it on the ground so that it was kind of a ribbon-cutting sort of a thing.
And I thought, well that’s kind of a cool idea and then we were talking, and somebody mentioned oh, it would be kind of cool to have people put handprints on the pipe like get some, make sure use a paint that will be okay but dip your hands on paint and put some prints on. So, I think some creative ways to make O & M a little more exciting.