The right preparation is critical before implementing an Asset Management System. The structure and process put in place beforehand can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to implement an AMS.
The philosophy underpinning an AMS system should be kept simple. The AMS should best reflect your asset information today so better planning decisions can be made for tomorrow. The AMS is one of many tools that can help you achieve then measure your customer levels of service.
Steps must be put in place now to limit the amount of unnecessary information loaded into a new system. You are spending a lot of money collecting data now so you can utilise it to produce projections on asset repairs and replacements. It is vitally important to prepare yourself so when the AMS is implemented you are ahead of the game.
Thinking data will magically import into a new system is a flawed assumption, yet it is often made. There are methods available to manipulate electronic data but these can be risky and take additional time. It is frustrating for companies who have waited a long period of time to get an AMS to spend more time correcting datasets.
Adapt is passionate about people getting the most out of their data quickly. Some small changes now might mean you get to load more accurate historical data into a new system much quicker. Some thoughts which may help:
Stop expecting that a system will fix all the problems in the organisation!
We all use the lack of a computerised system as an excuse for not having our act together with data and process – this procrastination is not limited to asset management systems. We’ve all seen the excuse: “We’ll have a system one day, let’s address it then”. The lack of a system actually provides more reason to put one together.
I like this approach for 3 key reasons:
• It quickens the implementation time when a system is brought.
• It sends a clear message to those around you that you mean business when it comes to asset management - lack of a system shouldn’t halt progress right now.
• It places robustness around data and process.
Decisions will be based on the data in the AMS one day and you will feel more comfortable doing this knowing that your base data is sound.
You should question current processes and ask will a system really fix this or can this process be improved now! Sometimes there are benefits with changing your approach over time rather than in one big hit during implementation time so starting now is a good thing.
Know the GIS
Building your asset registers from the GIS is a great idea but do some homework. The GIS may look complete but when data is prepared to migrate to an AMS it is the bits you don’t see in the GIS that cause grief. The GIS is just like any other data source, which means the good and the bad points are inherited. You will want to integrate to the GIS at some stage so it is very important to understand how assets are represented in it. Common challenges are:
• GIS systems are not typically geared for holding structured asset attribute data. This may mean data validation errors, non-standardised codes, free form text, non-mandatory fields, missing data and inconclusive data.
• The GIS may store pipes and nodes in a different way to what your AMS model does. For example, water mains in the GIS may be split at every intersecting node. Is this connectivity required in the AMS or can the number of records be reduced by splitting water pipes at every valve or intersection?
• Snapping. The connectivity may look great when zoomed out but when you zoom in, the manhole you thought was associated to an incoming and outgoing pipe may start to drift away from the pipes. This is because the manhole or node has not been snapped to the pipes. This is a significant problem when trying to build an asset register from the GIS data as relationships between assets cannot be established if they don’t exist. In this example, it means orphaned assets exist with no relationship to the reticulation.
GIS can be a great starting base for an asset register as the data has often been captured via GPS and may be more accurate than existing hard copy records (if available).
It has strengths and weaknesses like any data source so it is important to be across them. Don’t forget that changing the asset hierarchy or connectivity may drop connectors to other datasets, including maintenance history.
Standards, standards, standards
Every year, money is spent on contractors and students to go out and collect data, manhole inspections, asset locations, condition inspections, valuations, and CCTV data scored to a standard. Every year, the pile of inspection-related data grows....in the corner.
Massive amounts of field data is acquired quickly and then the waiting begins for many companies, wondering what to do with it all.
If the end point for data is not known then it should not be collected. The resource should be used somewhere else. However, if data is collected, the company and the data collector need to ensure that both sides call a spade a spade. Trouble occurs when one side calls a spade a shovel!
We have seen this happen at numerous sites. In the left hand we have a bunch of standard pipe material codes, which have been standardised so they can slot straight into an AMS when it is implemented. But in the right hand we have a contractor out collecting data who has invented their own pipe material code list. This leads to a second data collection exercise – the one inside the office to make the two codes fit.
This may be a dramatic example but it happens. If the data is no good, tag it as low confidence and move on, don’t waste time patching up data that would be dubious at best. Time spent on cleaning data which is incomplete or of low accuracy would be better spent on putting structure around ongoing data collection strategies. Change and get it right from now on.
Start a data management guideline, which can simply detail data collection, data standards, data storage and data exposure. Adapting a formalised approach to data will help avoid collecting the same data twice. Although you might then have data structure in your department, don’t forget that other asset types or business units will want to migrate their business to the AMS at some stage. If you want to draw analysis across the board you should be collaborating with the other business units now.
What is your AMS vision?
Form a strategic vision for what an AMS will and won’t do and what value it will be in one, two and three years’ time. This will help the organisation avoid the trap of thinking the AMS will solve all the asset management issues and processes in 5 minutes. AMS implementations are lengthy projects and often integrate with many other systems. They can be frustrating projects at times if they are stalled waiting for data cleansing. Project owners and sponsors have to know what they’re in for!
An AMS is a tool to capture all the data we know about our assets and the performance of them, in the knowledge that we can manage the assets better in the future for the customer. This is why Adapt places a high importance on collecting robust asset data as this is the core of your AMS. All activities in an AMS centre on the asset register so it’s worth putting some effort in to getting it right.
Happy Implementing from the team at Adapt.