What is utility asset management? And why is it important? Water and Wastewater Utilities, along with Electric and Gas Utilities are responsible for managing large amounts of infrastructure. It's important for Water and Wastewater utilities to have simple asset management software because finding buried infrastructure is difficult enough as it is. Managing infrastructure assets proactively eliminates unnecessary large capital expenditures needed to repair broken, or poorly maintained assets. Reactive maintenance is significantly more expensive than managing them proactively. A proper asset management plan will include asset location, description, age, condition, criticality of failure, business risk exposure, and cost of replacement. It will also ensure that utility management has a proper program in place for managing operational and maintenance tasks, continually assessing the state of their asset health, and then finally a long-term capital plan for how to best deploy resources in the future.
Some of the benefits of a properly implemented Asset Management plan are improved customer service, decreased non-revenue water loss, lower operational costs, higher staff productivity, and longer asset health, due to the shift in investment from reactive maintenance to proactive maintenance.
Here are 5 things that you need to know in order to implement a proper asset management plan:
1. Capture Accurate Asset Location Data With Mobile GIS. Having accurate locations of all of your assets in a GIS software. In order to accurately map your assets with precise locations, you need to have a mobile GIS platform, that allows your team to capture data from the field. Knowing exactly where things are will help your utility crews and field staff reduce time finding assets in the field. Two examples are, finding valves or meters after it's snowed, or if vegetation has covered the meter. Contextual data like a location description along with a photo captured through your mobile phone will help the next person on your team, quickly find the asset in question.
2. Input Data From Condition Assessment & Asset Quality Rating. Once you've marked exactly where every asset is, you need to capture asset attributes. Having proper asset histories will help you here. Knowing exactly when every asset is installed, what condition it's in, any measurements like (hydrant flow tests over time) is only half the battle. Then using some judgement and qualitative data, you must determine which assets are the most critical. For example, does this water main service the local hospital, school system, or professional football stadium? If so, it's probably critical that those assets are in working condition. An asset near to those key businesses might receive a score of 5 out of 5, in terms of Business Risk Exposure, and they might be considered "Very Significant' for criticality of failure.
3. Determine Remaining Useful Life & Rate of Decay For Assets. There are publicly available project useful life tables, that will show the projected useful remaining life of assets depending on the type of assets in question, their age, and some other factors. Clearly usage, and quality play a factor in that as well. Working with a consultant to help you produce a rate of decay curve or model can help you to model scenarios to create guardrails for a window of replacement for a particular asset. This allows utility management teams to start to do long term capital planning.
4. Determining asset value, replacement costs, and budgeting. Once you've gathered all of the data for the steps listed above, you can know move onto the scenario planning portion of your asset management plan. The primary question that must be asked here is: What are the costs of rehabilitation, repair, and replacement for critical assets? And given my current Operations & Maintenance budget, my current staff, and the demands from my customer base, what are realistic timelines for being able to accomplish the above goals. Also, what funding sources are available to cover the costs of implementing the asset management?
5. Implement a mobile-first asset management software for utilities. The gap in the industry has always existed from the binder to the execution of that plan in the field. An 80 page PDF telling you what should will help you to devise a strategy for replacing, rehabbing or repairing, assets, but doing the work, in the flow of normal utility operations is the challenge.
A typical superintendent or utility field crew member's priorities usually move from Emergency, to customer service requests, to locates, to work orders, to compliance and board reporting, and then lastly to making the recommended upgrades or changes in the system. There's simply too much limited bandwidth.
That's why asset management plans go largely unimplemented. WIth Ziptility's free mobile asset management software, utilities can easily program and assign maintenance tasks from their asset management plan, and the utility field crews will receive notifications via text message, email, when that task is due. It will also show up on the map visually through highlighter, so the crew member is confident on what he or she should do next.
This why Engineers are using Ziptility's Utility Management Software, so they can implement Water Infrastructure Digital Twins. This allows them to collaboratively work alongside a client in real-time versus delivering Shapefile or GeoJson files back and forth with the client as project deliverables. When the work is added, updated, or completed, everyone is kept on the same page and has visibility into the status of the project.
Although not as visible as potable water distribution systems, wastewater collection systems are critical to the success of utility operations. Wastewater Operators need to manage manholes, lift stations, blowoffs, dry wells, cleanouts, inlets, outlets, gravity lines, force mains, lateral, culverts, and how those things help facilitate the collection of waste to a treatment facility. There are many points of failure, and unlike water, the system is not pressurized, so problems aren't as ready visible like a water main break might be. This means that it's critical that wastewater utility operators are diligent in terms of their data collection, sewer inspections, televised sessions, and general sewer maintenance. Compliance regulations say that 20 percent of a systems manholes should be inspected once a year. This means that you're inspected all manholes in a system every 5 years.
On top of simply inspecting them, wastewater asset management software should allow operators to program other routine maintenance tasks like repairs, replacements, and cleanings. Data attributes that should be collected for a manhole are as follows:
Ensuring that your mobile asset management software is easy to use, can be taken offline, is flexible, and scalable to allow wastewater to invite contractors like engineers, and contractors is incredibly important. Managing wastewater utilities is difficult. Your asset management technology should be a hindrance but a help to the work you're doing.
What is a stormwater? Stormwater is the runoff that comes from precipitation. Stormwater utilities are relatively new and much less abundant in the US than Sanitary Sewer or Potable Water utilities. They are used to help collect and control the runoff from soft and hard surface more efficiently than traditional sewer systems. Some utilities have what is called a combined sewer. Which combines Sanitary Sewer and Storm Sewer in a single set of pipes. This can lead to problems when you have an excess of rainfall because this can cause sewage and wastes to rise above the ground surface and be deposited in areas where people frequent, which poses all sorts of health challenges.
With Stormwater utilities being relatively new and often paid for with an additional fee to rate payers, it's critical that utility operators invest in stormwater asset management software to help them maintain lengthen the amount of useful life for these large infrastructure capital investments.
The types of assets in a stormwater asset inventory list might be catch basins, manholes, inlets, ponds, CSOs, Outfalls, gravity lines, culverts.
The type of data a Catch basin might contain in an asset management software is as follows:
Ziptility provides a completely new software approach that combines GIS and Asset Management software into a single system. We do not outsource our mapping to a separate GIS provider which requires utilities to maintain two applications to accomplish one job. This creates more challenges than benefits for a water utility who are focused on providing clean water and quality water service for their customers.
Infrastructure Asset Management software helps utilities identify and focus on their top priorities when it comes to managing the lifecycle of the utilities infrastructure.
Having a plan and scalable system which helps to adequately prioritize asset maintenance, like when to repair or replace assets, extends the life expectancy of these assets.
Issuing work orders for preventative maintenance is significantly easier and less costly than expensive reactive maintenance from emergency repairs that comes from neglecting to make investments upfront rather than later.
When managing infrastructure assets, theres a need to not only consider the planning and software to execute tasks in the field but also the physical parts, materials, supplies, equipment, and labor necessary to execute the upgrades of these assets.
Scheduling work orders for tasks to be completed is just the beginning. Having the right crew member with the right experience, expertise, parts, and training is crucial to having the job done correctly.
Infrastructure Asset Management Software is a critical investment that needs to be made for water, wastewater, stormwater, sanitary, electrical, and gas utilities.
Although Water Utilities have been operating in the United states for over 100 years, the term Asset Management wasn't really coined until the 1980's. For the majority of the 20th century there has been consistent bi-partisan support to invest heavily in the infrastructure of this country, An example of this is our extensive interstate highway system. However, the utilities industry faces a crisis due to shrinking state and local government budgets, a lack of federal dollars to adequately invest in infrastructure, coupled with the increasing costs to maintain these outdated systems with the current revenue base needed to sustain these maintenance activities.
That's why now more than ever there needs to be a significant investment into asset management in utilities industry.
There are several different types of asset management software. There is park asset management software. Park asset management software allows public works departments and municipalities to manage and maintain critical assets, such as parks, benches, trees, grass, fountains, monuments. Optimizing the day-to-day maintenance of these assets is critical to maintaining great relationships with citizens because clean and well maintained parks and public spaces provide an important role in the quality of life for our communities.
Ensuring that your assets are being properly maintained and managed is only half the battle. With real-time asset management software and the ability to incorporate sensors, and devices give utility operators the ability to monitor asset management performance utilities. This essential utility allows operators to monitor the asset management performance utilities like criticality of failure, like business risk exposure. These things not only measure the impact that these infrastructure assets have but also real-time reports like flow measurements or psi pressure readings give us a live view into how the assets are performing at delivering water to our communities.
While it is not often top of mind when it comes to thinking about asset management software, there is an important need and place for transportation asset management software. Maintaining assets that assist in the flow of traffic is critical to having a high functioning city. Having well maintained bridges, streets, sidewalks, signs, signals, parking lots,
There are critical maintenance activities that need to be scheduled like street patching, paving, snow plowing and salting, tree trimming, street light maintenance, street sweeping, curb repairs, sidewalk patches, bike path clearings, and more.
Being able to assign work orders to complete this in a transportation asset management software is critical for public works departments.
Ziptility provides utility operators with best free asset management software. Mobile-first is the most important factor in selecting any utility management platform. Having a system where it's easy asset tracking of infrastructure assets, ensures that the best data is being captured from the field. Having accurate data does a lot to inform long-term utility management decisions. Sign up for a Ziptility Asset Management demo today to see the difference for yourself.