Managing your collection system assets
Asset Management Software for the wastewater industry has received a lot of interest as of late. That’s why we’re going to start by talking about the lowly card catalog. Stick with me, you’ll understand the analogy soon enough…
The Old Way of Organizing Our Asset Information
You remember card catalogs, right? Not too long ago, when trying to find helpful documentation on a specific subject, one would start at the card catalog, or even with a printed list. But today, most libraries don’t even have card catalogs – and in a growing number of cases, actual book contents are being digitized. Furthermore, historical search information and algorithms can lead you straight to the answers. The transition from card catalogs to today’s digital world was painless, and the end result is more accessible information. I’m sure that most of us never asked for a solution to the card catalog, but now that we have these new capabilities, we can’t imagine living without them.
A Better Way: Asset Management Software
Most of us have assets that we need to keep track of, and are doing it the old fashioned “card catalog” way. Some of those assets might include miles of large diameter pipe, miles of small diameter pipe, manholes – the whole collection system. Existing information might be well organized with in-house spreadsheets or indexing systems that make it easier to work with shelved data in binders, on tape or DVD. Why change? Perhaps there aren’t enough resources to staff up in IT, or to analyze the information, or maybe it’s just too overwhelming. Those may have all been valid points as little as three years ago. But today, technology is no longer unfriendly – even my grandparents can use a computer. Implementing and using Asset Management Software is no longer a formidable task.
You may be thinking, “I don’t need that right now.” But, here’s the problem – while we know how to put our hands on the information, it’s not in a format that we can use to make decisions. For example, if we are scheduling work for a specialized piece of equipment, wouldn’t it be great to quickly find all assets requiring that work and schedule everything at once? Asset inventory and Geographic Information System (GIS) integration, maintenance planning and scheduling, condition assessments, risk assessments, capacity assessments, and work management are examples of what can be done with Asset Management Software. It is especially powerful when you can visualize results — for example, you’d be able to instantly locate all of those assets requiring the specialized piece of equipment on a map. Without organized digital information, most cases would require weeks of work to come up with the results necessary to make good decisions. This becomes even more difficult if one wishes to combine historical information (such as risk assessment) with future efforts (such as work management to create an inspection plan). Asset Management Software provides the insight to the critical balance between Level of Service, Risk Management and Life Cycle Cost Economics. Smaller scale systems exist that handle a few of these items very well, such as the CUPPS system provided by the EPA, but a true Asset Management system integrates all of them.
Many asset owners aspire to make the transition from simple condition assessment to risk assessment, and decision support — the ability to make decisions based on well-formed data — provides the link. At RedZone, we believe in the value of useful information – we are actively working on better integration and more powerful solutions. I would like to hear about the challenges you face as you approach either Asset Management Software implementation or integration of RedZone data with the software you have.
Asset Management is the buzz word of the day, but rightly so, especially now that decision support tools are within reach of even the smallest municipalities. I encourage you to explore the possibilities.