The water market today is being bombarded with new and different technologies that promise effective ways of helping us address long-standing challenges to maintaining our infrastructure. While these tools and solutions help bring innovation to the industry, many focus on a discrete, singular objective. Very few offer a holistic approach that allows infrastructure professionals to identify system needs and develop solutions that fully leverage both asset data and hydraulic models for achieving asset management and strategic planning objectives simultaneously. This approach is a significant challenge for many utilities as decades of siloed data, people, and processes restrict and limit us as our challenges evolve.
Utilities are constantly investing time and money in collecting data, but they likely aren’t getting the most value out of their investment. They often collect too much, wrong, or bad data and manage it in organizational silos with limited resources. With new data sources rapidly evolving (mobile devices, AMI, IoT sensors, etc.), utilities are drowning in data and don’t know where to start when it comes to making it useful. Since so many factors need to be considered, the intentions are always good: more data = better decision-making regarding inspections, maintenance, cleaning, rehab, and replacement strategies. However, utilities lack tools to help with the many data inputs they must consider in a reliable, repeatable, and transparent way.
When we talk about asset management and system planning, we often do so in terms of long, multi-year endeavors that never really end—they just keep evolving and changing. Both take us on a journey where an outcome is identified and achieved, only to repeat the process over the next planning horizon. Throughout this journey, we collect data, analyze results, simulate scenarios, and collaborate with stakeholders. So, what can we do to proactively supplement these long-term initiatives into outcomes that have more immediate returns? Consider these essential elements to overcoming the daily challenges faced in the water infrastructure industry:
There are often various applications to handle all the different data being collected. What’s missing is a way to analyze and visualize that information as a single, holistic dataset without copying the data or implementing a complex and expensive centralized data warehouse. Let’s bring together relevant data sources into one holistic platform that maintains a connection so that data is continuously
For many, asset risk is the driver that fuels the overall asset management initiatives. As such, maintaining an accurate assessment of the likelihood and consequence of failure are paramount for asset rehabilitation and replacement as well as operations and maintenance planning. Likelihood of Failure (LoF) requires data from the network—pipe characteristics, pipe condition assessment, hydraulic results, environmental conditions, and operational data—to properly measure. Since this data is lacking (difficult to capture and maintain), we need tools to predict the evolution of asset degradation according to several degradation factors. This includes leveraging machine learning and AI tools to supplement the lack of data available. Consequence of Failure (CoF), or severity, is also a critical part of understanding risk. CoF predicts the evolution of risk by considering customer, community, and utility impacts. In addition, incorporating the hydraulic model to evaluate the impact of failure in the level of service is essential. Within water distribution systems, we focus on the severity of service disruptions by identifying critical customers. But other considerations are important too, such as resulting fireflow pressures and water quality impacts based on a break isolation. Within wastewater we can determine how sensitive each asset, and the network as a whole, is to blockages, identifying the most hydraulically vulnerable areas.
Level of service impacts can be measured by utilizing the hydraulic model to measure the effectiveness of your strategies. Analyze the hydraulic impact of your infrastructure strategy (pipe sizing, pumping, storage) while considering any number of scenarios: growth, capacity, regulations, climate change, social impacts, and others.
We like spreadsheets, and why not? They are powerful yet easy-to-use tools for quickly disseminating data. However, simply ranking asset risk or other asset renewal elements doesn’t provide an approach that considers multi-objectives in combination. With optimization, you can discover optimal replacement/rehabilitation, cleaning, inspection, and monitoring priorities considering risk exposure, cost, community impacts, and any other metric influencing your stakeholders. Define alternatives to renovation to preserve your assets in the long run; a renewal strategy that not only focuses on minimizing asset risk but considers hydraulic performance impacts and benefits.
Group and rationalize tasks for different assets in the same area and create practical renewal, cleaning, and/or inspection plans that can be executed efficiently by internal or external staff. Creating efficiencies during the execution of your plans will save time and money where it matters most—with your operations and maintenance budgets.
Following these steps will allow utilities to prioritize assets for maintenance, replacement, or upsizing on a comprehensive multi-objective, multi-criteria basis. These analyses provide a transparent, unified approach to asset management and capital and operational planning, ultimately providing more confidence in the decisions being made.
To learn more about how the AssetAdvanced™ platform can help incorporate these essential elements into your asset management strategy, please contact us.