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A recipe for good asset management decisions – Part 2

This is the second in a series of posts from the AWA’s Asset Management Specialist Network. Read part one here.

Imagine if you received your water bill from your utility with, just under the total amount due, the following detailed cost breakdown:

  • Water Variable Usage Charges
  • Water Fixed Access Charges
  • Sub-Optimal Asset Management Decision Charges

Inconvenient truth?

Part Two: Effective processes to identify risks and opportunities

For many years, every fortnight a maintenance team of four fitters with a crane was called to the same sewage pumping station to unblock one of the pumps, which had been clogged with rags.

The issue was well known by the operation and maintenance (O&M) staff. It was not a high priority for the asset manager because the environmental risk was quite low with a site that had two duty pumps and two standby pumps. He did not realise, however, that the organisation was spending $145,000 per year unblocking these pumps.

When he found out, it became obvious that doing something about it would be a good decision. And it would have been an even better decision to do something years ago.  But one can’t make a good decision about an issue that has not been identified.

Effective processes to identify and prioritise risks and opportunities to be addressed are a critical ingredient in making good asset management decisions. Reliable sources to identify potential issues include feedback from O&M staff, performance monitoring, inspections and asset condition assessment, asset failure risk assessment, costs analysis, reliability analysis, asset failure investigations, stakeholders’ needs and expectations, change, and innovation.

Identifying issues is necessary but not sufficient. Understanding the root causes of these issues is also critical to effective asset management decision making.

Trying to improve the poor reliability of bioreactor mixers by renewing them is unlikely to be very effective if the failures are caused by rags that were not captured in the inlet works. The focus should be on the root cause (inlet works poor performance) and not on the symptom (mixers frequent blockages).

If you have any questions about the Asset Management Decision Series, please contact Zoubir Ait Mansour, Marion Derochet or Norbert Schaeper.

This article was written on behalf of the AWA’s Asset Management Specialist Network.