Building a Solid Foundation During an Enterprise Asset Management Revolution

Governments, public work departments and utilities in an effort to continue to streamline costs and efficiencies are turning to technology to gain control of current and future costs. The technologies that are expediting an asset management revolution take on the major issues of the increasing cost of aging infrastructure and the decline in water sales revenue. The old paradigm of siloed databases and paper files is shifting to a digital enterprise framework. The three main asset management technologies concentrate on data collection, maintenance planning and decision analysis.

At the foundation of this transformation of how information is collected, stored and processed is ESRI?s ArcGIS. ESRI is the leader in U.S. utility and municipal geospatial analysis and for all purposes should be considered the de facto standard for infrastructure asset management in the United States. Standardization will continue to bring additional cost savings through open architecture, data sharing and cooperation. ESRI ArcGIS provides the comprehensive geodatabase and helps maintain and manage up-to-date information about assets, including detailed descriptions about their current condition and operating status.

Water utility asset management starts with compiling a geographic database of the utility network from source documents such as as-built drawings, construction plans, field observations and GPS data collectors. This GIS-centric approach for asset management provides the basis for a scalable enterprise-wide framework that can capture any asset identified from water and wastewater facilities and underground infrastructure to every facility, street, light, sign, park, port, school, marina, cemetery, vehicle and tree.

Basically, anything that could require maintenance or tracking. Many Information Technology Master Plans have adopted the importance of GIS and the concept that asset management hinges on having up-to-date performance information about facilities, customer complaints, main breaks, leaks, meter readings and operating data. In many cases the GIS IT function is being moved to the public works or utility department to maintain or enhance its funding and to better facilitate asset management program initiatives.

In 2011, ESRI launched a Water Utility Resource Center (http://resources.arcgis.com/content/water-utilities) to focus on the utility needs of over 300,000 users worldwide. This resource center walks through the five common business patterns of a water or wastewater utility. According to Howard Crothers, ESRI Water/Wastewater Practice Team: ?These utility business patterns include – Asset Management, Planning and Analysis, Field Mobility, Operational Awareness and Stakeholder Engagement. ESRI GIS supports the Asset Management pattern of water utilities as the authoritative system to store, manage and maintain accurate asset records that are able to be shared utility wide.?

Simply put, GIS manages asset information. With ESRI ArcGIS geodatabase as the asset registry or asset inventory, the next most critical component of an enterprise asset management system is the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Water, wastewater, solid waste and storm drain utilities are some of the most capital-intensive assets to manage and, as a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) have advocated the need to implement an effective Enterprise Asset Management System. The core component for managing the existing assets for operations and maintenance departments is a robust CMMS focused on maintenance and rehabilitation work orders, and the inspection and monitoring of assets with regular periodic condition assessments of selected assets. The asset management focus is to maintain a desired level of service of an asset at the lowest life cycle cost.

EPA defines Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) as a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) focused on maintenance work orders and maintenance performance combined with an Asset Registry focused on an asset?s performance over its life cycle and on the aggregate performance of asset groups. A CMMS and Asset Registry is the core to any asset management program. An ESRI GIS-centric application shares the geodatabase without redundant database integration programming.

ERSI?s distinguished international Platinum Business Partner, Azteca System?s Cityworks asset management and maintenance system fulfills the next technology investment for an enterprise asset management system. This award winning GIS-centric work order management system has been in use nearly 15 years and as a tested veteran of hard core maintenance crews has over 400 loyal client sites. When a bottom-up and top-down business needs analysis is conducted, Cityworks continues to deliver the best-of-breed work identification and control, job planning, work order scheduling, scheduled shut down coordination, preventive and predictive optimization, materials and inventory coordination in an enterprise scalable format. Cityworks clients can start with a basic utility asset and extend the scope to a major metropolitan city for asset management, maintenance, and even land planning, licensing and permitting. If ESRI ArcGIS is the foundation, then Azteca?s Cityworks CMMS is the core for a GIS-centric enterprise asset management system. A solid CMMS is the critical component for managing assets. An elaborate asset management application will not make up for weak CMMS work history or poor resource allocation. Only a small percentage of the high cost critical assets will require inspections and advanced condition assessment techniques and as a result the basic day-to-day work history data built up over time becomes the most valuable and least expensive data to improve calculations on the likelihood of failure and life cycle costs.

At the heart of Cityworks? asset and maintenance functions is work order processing. Work orders are generated by citizen complaints, supervisor drive by(s), field crew observations and planned maintenance activities. The work order is generated, with crew scheduling, outfitting, performance tracking, job costing, materials management coordination and special location information. Work orders offer critical data for analysis including: planned or unplanned maintenance costs, life-cycle cost history, actual costs, activity performed, failure mode and cause, impact to customers and businesses, unproductive time and other issues. Embedded into these data trends are the additional efficiencies which utilities managers are seeking after.

ESRI ArcGIS with Cityworks CMMS can be used to schedule and generate routes for mobile field crews to ensure the completion of tasks like maintenance activities, service turn on and turn offs, and meter reading while minimizing cost and time. One can also identify locations where proactive maintenance activities may be required using information about recent customer complaints, leaks, maintenance records, or other documented asset condition information. Maintenance crews need information that is current and optimized for the required task and delivered in an easy-to-use format. Mobile field workers also generate much information that needs to be passed back into the office and managed in enterprise business systems.

Water utilities are always looking for ways to decrease the time it takes to share information between staff and increase the amount, reliability and accuracy of data coming back from the field during activities such as meter reading, customer service, installs, maintenance, repair work, CCTV, hydrant flushing, valve exercising and leak detection.

The operations and maintenance budget is a very large portion of a utility?s budget and is constantly being underfunded through job freezes and deferred maintenance. Most of the time these decisions are being made by management, finance or elected officials without the proper decision-making tools or restoration plans. Many utilities do not have enough field crew labor available to meet the needs of the utility and in turn are having to replace capital assets more frequently at a higher cost burden to the rate payers. For example, when a groundwater well?s performance declines by 25 percent, the rule of thumb is that it is time to rehab.

The well rehab costs will be 10 to 20 percent of the cost of constructing a new well. Preventative maintenance costs would have only been 10 to 20 percent of the costs of hiring a well rehabilitation specialist.

Cityworks? asset and maintenance processing power can identify the replacement of assets in a cost-effective manner by prioritizing assets based on poor current performance, which includes high unplanned maintenance cost (exceeds 15 percent of replacement costs), high consequence of failure (consequence exceeds replacement cost), high ratio of unplanned to planned maintenance (unplanned exceeds 50 percent of planned maintenance), and high total maintenance cost (exceeds 20 percent of replacement value). The rich work history data in Cityworks CMMS is attached to a specific asset and the performance or lack thereof is tracked and monitored as part of the asset management process.

According to Brian Haslam, CEO and President of Azteca Systems: ?An ESRI GIS-centric Enterprise Asset Management system such as Cityworks not only contains work order functionality (such as scheduling jobs, assigning personnel, reserving materials, recording costs, inventory control and tracking other relevant data) but advances to include inspection data with details and ranking of the asset?s condition, work history, performance, physical asset data (specifications, purchase date, expected life, warranty and service contracts, valuation) in order to conduct risk analysis. The low-cost inspection and condition assessment takes place by leveraging the work history of a Cityworks? GIS-centric CMMS.

The water industry continues to discuss the true cost of water. Until proper data is gathered and analyzed and adequate maintenance plans are formulated and implemented, the operations and maintenance budgets will not reflect the true current cost of the water service. The increasing cost of water service requires the forecasting of the repair and replacement of assets found in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The long-term financial planning can only be completed by constantly updating the capital plans. Capital plans will continue to change as more information is available and a distant project moves closer to budget appropriation time and the risks and costs are evaluated closely by an asset manager and reviewed with the finance manager.

The third part of a solid asset management technology foundation deals with a great deal of data analysis in order to make a value-added decision concerning both the operation and the capital plan. The ESRI GIS Gold Business Partner, Innovyze (which recently changed its name from MWH Soft), has very powerful water, sewer and storm drain analytical tools, which are certified by the National Association of GIS-Centric Software (NAGCS). Embedded in some of these analysis tools are state-of-the-art genetic algorithms.
Innovyze?s Water CapPlan combines Cityworks?s work history and asset performance data with other likelihood of failure risk analysis variables such as age, materials, soil, location, seismic and hydraulic considerations for the best failure estimate. Cityworks? condition assessment data by asset can also be used in field calculators to further increase the accuracy of failure predictions. CapPlan?s projections of a smart capital project prioritization process also include understanding the consequences of a pipe failing in order to determine the correct repair and replacement priority. CapPlan has powerful tools to assess the hydraulic, geographic, spatial and public relations criticality of each pipe in the system?including automatically taking each pipe out of service and determining the hydraulic and water quality consequences including pressure loss. Management, engineers, operators, maintenance and finance staffs are virtually empowered with emergency preparedness scenario training dealing with risk failure analysis.

CapPlan and other offerings provide additional decision analysis and a wide range of budgeting options to evaluate and mitigate the balance between limited budgets and risk. This budget analysis and prioritized plan can be used in infrastructure financial planning efforts for financial staff to monitor the impacts to rates increases, debt issuances, reserve levels, financial metrics and credit ratings. CapPlan generates valuable presentation worthy graphs, charts and tables for internal staff, utility management, water committees, board/council meetings and public workshops illustrating the critical infrastructure needs, risks and cost.
According to Paul Boulos, Ph.D., President and COO of Innovyze: ?Water and wastewater utilities succeed and fail by the quality and accessibility of their asset data. With the rapid evolution of ESRI GIS centric applications, the transformation of the business has come within reach for utilities of all sizes. This critical transformation allows them to reach their business objectives at maximum savings while continuing to provide the highest levels of customer service. ESRI GIS is the core of any asset centric utility business, helping facilitate and optimize all management functions of the enterprise.?

These three core GIS-centric asset management technologies are examples of best-of-breed in each of their environments while complementing the data and function of the other. New web-enabled and ESRI GIS open architecture technologies will be developed and deployed, enriching further the ease and function of the core components of data collection, maintenance planning and decision analysis. Enterprise Asset Management Systems also may integrate with a number of other systems such as the financial or customer billing systems and use other GIS configurations in order to meet a specific business requirement. Optimally, asset managers should have access to data stored across multiple systems enabling a comprehensive view of the location, connectivity, status, history and description of an asset. As utilities are able to move forward in advance metering infrastructure (AMI) and other effective utility management programs to reduce water and revenue loss, it remains very critical to first develop and maintain a fundamental knowledge of the water system and have the people, technology and business processes in place to monitor, control and plan for future outcomes.

Gregory M. Baird is Managing Director/CFO of AWI Consulting LLC. He served as the chief financial officer of Colorado’s third largest utility and finance officer of California’s 17th largest city.

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