Asset Management: Knowledge is Power

In 1597, when Sir Francis Bacon penned the concept “Knowledge is Power” he proposed an entirely new system based on empirical and inductive principles and the active development of new arts and inventions. This knight and intellectual reformer developed a system whose ultimate goal would be the production of practical knowledge for “the use and benefit of men.” He defined the “scientific method” which is at the foundation for infrastructure asset management.

The scientific method of analyzing our assets to gain knowledge offers utilities an opportunity to be proactive and have greater power over managing their assets at a sustained performance level at the lowest life-cycle cost and at an acceptable level of risk to the organization and customer.

MWH Global uses its proven “Quick Start” collaborative approach which allows for rapid and transparent assessment of an organization’s current asset management capabilities and clarifies the next best steps for the sustainable enhancement of business practices. Key elements of this approach include:

  • Identification of key business drivers, objectives and barriers to effective asset management.
  • Development of a strong vision for enhanced asset management specifically focused on an organization’s needs.
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of the utility’s current core management business processes against industry best practices in asset management.
  • Collaborative creation of a practical Enterprise Asset Management Master Plan that will guide an organization towards cost-effective achievement of its asset management objectives.

This process, with advanced electronic data management tools (mAudit and mTool) that rapidly collect, analyze and catalog asset inventory and inspection findings, quickly assists in the knowledge power of an integrated Enterprise Asset Management Master Plan Roadmap to move forward and accelerate achievement of the financial benefits of asset management. Aging workforce issues have further underscored the importance of knowledge management. Another MWH tool that addresses knowledge capture and transfer ? called “ActiveManuals” ? is a integration of varied information sources including engineering O&M manuals, manufacturer manuals, technical documents, drawings, photographs, video-based knowledge transfer and capture, and real-time updates and revisions that align to a workplace’s practices.

Likewise, at the national level, a comprehensive approach to managing our capital assets is overdue ? one that brings “state of the practice” advanced asset management concepts, tools, techniques and technologies to bear on managing for cost-effective performance. Agencies are investing enormous resources into asset management programs for their water and wastewater piping systems, including comprehensive asset condition assessments and predictive maintenance programs, which lead to asset renewal prioritization and scheduling.

Without a sustainable, holistic approach of “cradle to grave” sustainable asset management integration and implementation, the true cost savings of asset management cannot be achieved. Asset management principles particularly need to be applied to the actual renewal programs, but knowledge gaps in the industry are generally precluding such implementation. The water infrastructure database project “WATERiD” is intended to help to bridge this knowledge gap so that the true promise of asset management can be achieved. WATERiD will continuously improve through constant accumulation of industry knowledge. Data within WATERiD can be readily accessed and compiled into updates of existing manuals of practice, additional manuals of practice and other decision support tools to compliment the proposed national database website developed by Virginia Tech.

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech is offering a certificate program for individuals interested in learning the fundamentals of Sustainable Water Infrastructure Asset Management (SWIM). The objective of this program is to broaden and deepen the body of knowledge for practicing engineers. The program was developed to improve the practice, elevate the standards and advance the profession of water infrastructure management. The asset management challenge for U.S. agency officials is one of “knowledge transfer.” For that reason, a Fundamentals of Asset Management is the first course which has been designed as an extensive hands-on experience: www.cpe.vt.edu/swim/descriptions.htm.
Many water industry firms are also becoming members of the WATERiD Knowledge Database to gain full access to its information and case studies. For more information, please visit waterid.org/content/water-infrastructure-database-waterid.

In Southern California, July 16-17, 2013, “The Future of Water Infrastructure: Reliability-Based Integrated Asset Management” conference is being held where knowledge is power and generously shared. Critical water infrastructure topics will be discussed, including seismic planning and integrating energy management within the asset management framework. Water scarcity, like a domino effect, driving desalination and re-use projects and creating affordability debates leading to integrated planning, regionalization, consolidations and privatization, is also on the agenda. For more information on the upcoming conference, please visit www.uimonline.com/conferences.

As water professionals and modern knights of infrastructure asset management, from every discipline from engineering to information technology to integrated finance, our common duty is to share our expertise for “the use and benefit of men.”

Gregory M. Baird is president of the Water Finance Research Foundation and a financial, commercial and risk services consultant for MWH.

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Asset Management: Knowledge is Power

In 1597, when Sir Francis Bacon penned the concept ?Knowledge is Power? he proposed an entirely new system based on empirical and inductive principles and the active development of new arts and inventions. This knight and intellectual reformer developed a system whose ultimate goal would be the production of practical knowledge for ?the use and benefit of men.? He defined the ?scientific method? which is at the foundation for infrastructure asset management.????

The scientific method of analyzing our assets to gain knowledge offers utilities an opportunity to be proactive and have greater power over managing their assets at a sustained performance level at the lowest life-cycle cost and at an acceptable level of risk to the organization and customer.???????

MWH Global uses its proven ?Quick Start? collaborative approach which allows for rapid and transparent assessment of an organization?s current asset management capabilities and clarifies the next best steps for the sustainable enhancement of business practices. Key elements of this approach include:

  • Identification of key business drivers, objectives and barriers to effective asset management.
  • Development of a strong vision for enhanced asset management specifically focused on an organization?s needs.
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of the utility?s current core management business processes against industry best practices in asset management.
  • Collaborative creation of a practical Enterprise Asset Management Master Plan that will guide an organization towards cost-effective achievement of its asset management objectives.

This process, with advanced electronic data management tools (mAudit and mTool) that rapidly collect, analyze and catalog asset inventory and inspection findings, quickly assists in the knowledge power of an integrated Enterprise Asset Management Master Plan Roadmap to move forward and accelerate achievement of the financial benefits of asset management. Aging workforce issues have further underscored the importance of knowledge management. Another MWH tool that addresses knowledge capture and transfer ? called ?ActiveManuals? ? is a integration of varied information sources including engineering O&M manuals, manufacturer manuals, technical documents, drawings, photographs, video-based knowledge transfer and capture, and real-time updates and revisions that align to a workplace?s practices.??????

Likewise, at the national level, a comprehensive approach to managing our capital assets is overdue ? one that brings ?state of the practice? advanced asset management concepts, tools, techniques and technologies to bear on managing for cost-effective performance. Agencies are investing enormous resources into asset management programs for their water and wastewater piping systems, including comprehensive asset condition assessments and predictive maintenance programs, which lead to asset renewal prioritization and scheduling.???????

Without a sustainable, holistic approach of ?cradle to grave? sustainable asset management integration and implementation, the true cost savings of asset management cannot be achieved. Asset management principles particularly need to be applied to the actual renewal programs, but knowledge gaps in the industry are generally precluding such implementation. The water infrastructure database project ?WATERiD? is intended to help to bridge this knowledge gap so that the true promise of asset management can be achieved. WATERiD will continuously improve through constant accumulation of industry knowledge. Data within WATERiD can be readily accessed and compiled into updates of existing manuals of practice, additional manuals of practice and other decision support tools to compliment the proposed national database website developed by Virginia Tech.???????

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech is offering a certificate program for individuals interested in learning the fundamentals of Sustainable Water Infrastructure Asset Management (SWIM). The objective of this program is to broaden and deepen the body of knowledge for practicing engineers. The program was developed to improve the practice, elevate the standards and advance the profession of water infrastructure management. The asset management challenge for U.S. agency officials is one of ?knowledge transfer.? For that reason, a Fundamentals of Asset Management is the first course which has been designed as an extensive hands-on experience: www.cpe.vt.edu/swim/descriptions.htm.?????

Many water industry firms are also becoming members of the WATERiD Knowledge Database to gain full access to its information and case studies. For more information, please visit waterid.org/content/water-infrastructure-database-waterid.

In Southern California, July 16-17, 2013, ?The Future of Water Infrastructure: Reliability-based Integrated Asset Management? conference is being held where knowledge is power and generously shared. Critical water infrastructure topics will be discussed, including seismic planning and integrating energy management within the asset management framework. Water scarcity, like a domino effect, driving desalination and re-use projects and creating affordability debates leading to integrated planning, regionalization, consolidations and privatization, is also on the agenda.??????

As water professionals and modern knights of infrastructure asset management, from every discipline from engineering to information technology to integrated finance, our common duty is to share our expertise for ?the use and benefit of men.?

Gregory M. Baird is president of the Water Finance Research Foundation and a Financial, Commercial and Risk Services Consultant for MWH.

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