Discussing how to institutionalize asset management in local authorities and utility organizations, Heather and Ross presented two ways this could be done.
Celebrating your successes
Heather observed that asset management thinking gets to be embedded by celebrating your successes. We’re not very good at that as an industry, she opined.
I think one of the ways that I have observed that.
We don’t really do a good job of explaining, “This is something we did, using asset management thinking or asset management principles and here it saved us time, or money, or efforts, or prevented a problem, or whatever it might be.” And when people can see the direct result, “I changed the way I did things and now this is better,” they get so bought in and it never goes away.
Those people that understand the value of asset management thinking and practices don’t drop back down. It’s the ones who don’t see the value that will drop back down and there are some people that, that one victory alone has sold them for life because they know it worked and it changed the way that they were doing things.
So don’t forget to celebrate what worked and what was successful because that starts to get people realizing, “Oh yeah, we did it this way before, we do it this way now,” or “we made this different decision and it either prevented a big problem or we’d cut down the breaks” or “we got better customer service,” or “whatever it might be – you save some money, whatever the thing is, or even it made the operator’s job easier so that he had more time to do maintenance.”
Whatever the thing is, celebrate those successes and make sure you document them so that in people’s minds, they understand that direct result of asset management. It helps them realize that it’s a good thing to do and a good thing to keep doing.
Highlight the advantage of planned replacement of assets
Ross expressed the challenge of making authorities see the cost benefit of infrastructure asset management.
Look, one of the problems that you have with institutionalizing asset management, we often hear people say, “Hey, you guys in Australia and New Zealand have been doing this for a decade and a half, nearly two decades now, where are the savings?”
And yes, when reduced to physical sighting it’s hard to tell and it’s a really hard question.
I’ll give you an example. I’ve been over here for about a week and I’ve heard about an authority where they had a steel pipe over a motorway bridge that let go. A big pipe that wrecked the local freeway.
Wrecked half of the freeway, closed the other half of it, which happened over a weekend, creating a big drama. And, you know, at the end of the day, it all got fixed up and they had fixed up the road. However, the cost was huge, absolutely huge.
The cost of that incident would have been probably four or five times the cost if you’d done a planned replacement.
And so what you’re going to say is “Hey, we’ve been managing our assets. We go and inspect those steel pipes that go over bridges on say, an annual basis. (I would have thought would have been reasonable.) We’re on top of it.”
“We noticed these ones have a little pitting or starting to get some kind of leaks. So what we’ve done is we’ve moved the program around and we’re doing a program replacement and it’s costing us nothing extra. That’s good asset management practice.”
What you also need to point out to your governments and people funding you is, “Hey if we’d let that go, that would’ve cost four times and you know, and replacing big steel pipes is not a cheap exercise at best of times, multiply that by four.”
So that’s what asset management is about, Ross said.
These two ways are applicable in water utility infrastructure management and other asset management systems.
PHOTO CREDIT: Damian Gadal via Flickr Creative Commons License