Data Management Practices for Intelligent Asset Management in a Public Water Utility

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1 Data Management Practices for Intelligent Asset Management in a Public Water Utility Author: Rod van Buskirk, Ph.D. Introduction Concerned about potential failure of aging infrastructure, water and wastewater utilities are seeking ways to manage and extend the life of critical assets. However, the path toward that goal is fraught with challenges. Many executives are: Frustrated by the time required to access key information and that data from different systems disagrees; Unable to measure progress or the effect of specific strategies and tactics; and Suffering from inefficiencies resulting from manual data input, poor information access in the field, and lack of automation for routine processes. In order to overcome these challenges, many agencies are considering ways to leverage data gathered by business and operational systems to guide decision making for both short-term tactics as well as long-term strategic and capital planning. Modern asset management is a discipline requiring an integrated set of practices supported by information management and technology. At its highest level, enterprise asset Management requires information from maintenance, finance, procurement, customer service, engineering and operations. Core business software and technology associated with these areas gathers data during daily operations. This helps make planned and predictive maintenance a reality; determine accurate lifecycle costs; improve, monitor and manage maintenance activities; enhance customer service; optimize asset life span; and prioritize decisions about capital improvements or replacements.

2 Modern Asset Management Practices As critical infrastructure nears the end of its service life, maintenance costs escalate. Much of the infrastructure in the US is at or near this point. According to studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others, water and wastewater utilities must invest hundreds of billons of dollars in capital improvements over the next 20 years simply to maintain current service levels. Utilities know they must improve how they manage assets, make decisions, and maximize value from investments in treatment plants, pipelines, pump stations and other facilities. Since the mid 1900 s, asset management has evolved to meet new challenges and regulations. Advancements in asset management pioneered by the airline, military and nuclear power industries have been adapted to the unique requirements of water agencies. A milestone in this evolution is agreement on an industry standard definition. Implementing Asset Management: A Practical Guide (2007) 1, defines asset management as: An integrated set of processes to minimize the life-cycle costs of infrastructure assets, at an acceptable level of risk, while continuously delivering established levels of service. Utilities are attempting to attain this definition by aligning practices, information systems and organizational structure. A fundamental, though often implied, strategy in this endeavor is the need for systematic collection of data. Accurate data, and its subsequent analysis, is the key to: Reduce operations and maintenance costs; Increase system reliability; Reduce utility risk; Reduce unplanned service disruptions; Improve long-term financial planning; Budget reserve funds for future renewal/replacement; and Improve performance monitoring against desired target levels of service. 1 A joint publication of the National association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies. Performance Management Performance management is a proven strategy providing management and stakeholders an objective means to guide decisions. It is particularly useful as a means to improve asset management programs Performance management, as it relates to asset management, goes far beyond measuring water quality or expenditures. In order to manage asset infrastructure effectively, utility managers require practical, meaningful performance measures that monitor, document, analyze, and communicate performance against predetermined organizational, financial and operational goals. Effective programs include: Clearly defined performance measures with consistent naming conventions; A series of in-process and outcome measures tied to specific asset management strategies; A set of measures addressing time, cost, and quality of asset management activities; A hierarchy of asset management performance measures for each organizational layer from the general manager to each line employee; and A stated cause-and-effect relationship between each measure and asset performance. Because enterprise asset management touches every part of the utility, performance measures should address every effected department as well from the General Manager to Finance, Engineering, Operations, Maintenance, Customer Service, and IT. Specific metrics for asset management should address: Preventive and predictive maintenance Reactive and emergency maintenance Material management Fleet and equipment management Service request and work order processing Engineering design CIP management Asset renewal and replacement Financial management Several utilities have implemented a costeffective performance management methodology to monitor and improve asset performance, Performance Management Best Practices Page 2

3 address asset-related problems, and improve core business functions (e.g. customer service). In order to attain these benefits, successful agencies define each performance measure, gather supporting data from multiple information systems, analyze the information, and report results in a timely fashion. Intelligent Asset Management: Utilizing Data to Improve Asset Performance and Operations Intelligent Asset Management blends principles of lifecycle asset management with Business Intelligence (BI). BI encompasses technologies, applications and practices used to collect, integrate, analyze, and present information on costs, operations and condition in a specific context. Business intelligence systems enable better, faster and effective decision making. Intelligent Asset Management enables effective management of: 1. Asset Criticality 2. Asset Identification and Hierarchy 3. Cost Assignment 4. General Ledger Reconciliation 5. Reliability Engineering. 1. Asset Criticality Rather than perform routine maintenance on every asset regardless of criticality or cost, maintenance should be guided by a plan. Assets with high cost that are essential to operations require real-time monitoring to ensure uptime and high performance. Where assets are of low cost with low impact to operation, run-to-failure may be an adequate strategy. When asset criticality guides daily operations and planning, utilities realize considerable resource savings while ensuring optimum performance. Intelligent asset management and its associated information systems can establish relationships between asset criticality, performance, and work order assignments, thereby streamlining decision processes. 2. Asset Identification and Hierarchy A principle reason to capture asset information is to assign life-cycle costs to individual assets. However, there is intrinsic value in capturing an asset s description, condition, location, hierarchy (e.g. parent or child), and unique identification code. These attributes simplify search, comparison and analysis performance a valuable piece of information for decision-making and planning. 3. Cost Assignment Understanding an asset s total cost includes labor and material associated with maintenance and rehabilitation. Ultimately this information allows reconciliation of resource costs with General Ledger accounting and engineering practices. 4. General Ledger Reconciliation When CMMS handles asset charges on a work order, reconciliation becomes automatic. The CMMS tracks staff time spent on each asset. These costs roll up to the General Ledger via the asset record. This eliminates manual reconciliation with the finance system and improves accuracy. 5. Reliability Engineering Reliability Engineering defines failure as degradation of operating performance rather than non-operating equipment. Therefore, costly and critical assets require real-time analysis to ensure optimum efficiency. Data in the CMMS can be used to identify recurring asset failures. As these bad actors are identified, projects can be initiated to identify the root cause of failure and determine if redesign or re-engineering is necessary. Addressing performance degradation as it occurs allows early identification and correction of failure modes and effects, retains inherent asset reliability and Performance Management Best Practices Page 3

4 reduces the likelihood of failures impacting the utility mission. For each of the five requirements mentioned above, there are a set of performance indicators which support improved practices and processes. Modern Business Intelligence systems are designed to monitor and measure precisely these sort of performance indicators. Information Management and Technology: Enablers of Modern Asset Management There are four, interlaced areas of technology that must be in place to attain Intelligent Asset Management. These are defined below. 1) Enterprise Business and Asset Management Applications The Foundation of Modern Asset Management Modern asset management practices require a enterprise-level business applications including: Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) Enterprise GIS Customer Information Financial and Cost Management CIP Portfolio Management Purchasing and Inventory Management Labor Timekeeping / Payroll. The primary information system associated with Enterprise Asset Management is the CMMS an important tool in either plant or linear asset management programs. A properly-configured CMMS data structure will allow the system to track maintenance activities against utility assets as well as associated labor, materials, and equipment costs for every asset-related maintenance event. A second, key component for Enterprise Asset Management is a fully-functioning GIS. While all major water utilities have some GIS capability most agencies require significant effort to tap GIS potential as an Asset Management tool. Many utilities have thousands of miles of water mains and service laterals and tens of thousands of valves, hydrants and fittings. Because each appurtenance has a unique physical location, data about them has a spatial component. Therefore a GIS is a highly effective management tool particularly for linear assets. A GIS can Performance Management Best Practices Page 4

5 improve maintenance response times and improve scheduling efficiency. GIS users can filter, query, and group assets by location or other attribute (e.g. type, age, criticality, etc.) and display results on a map. GIS can also streamline management or planning decisions. Finally a GIS map-based interface lends a high-degree if intuitiveness to access information associated with a specific asset (e.g. maintenance history, manuals, photos, etc.). For many utilities the next step is to: 1) integrate GIS with maintenance management and customer information systems, and 2) empower field work crews with access to full asset data. To better use GIS, utilities must fill missing asset data elements and attributes and establish processes for improving asset data quality. 2) Wireless, Mobile Computing Technologies Deploying Asset Management Applications to Plant and Field Utilities are increasingly adopting wireless, mobile computing technologies that put asset information in the hands of field maintenance crews who need it. Typically, these solutions are GISenabled applications which allow field maintenance technicians to access work orders, customer contact information, and infrastructure assets. These mobile applications are enhanced through integration with GPS, bar-coding, RFID, CCTV, and other technologies. Mobile technologies enable data collection when and where maintenance work occurs thereby improving the quality and variety of data which can be collected. Establishing asset data standards including specification of what data must be captured at the work site is essential to realizing the full value of mobile technologies. 3) Data Warehousing Integrating and Aggregating Data for Effective Asset Performance Management Storing and aggregating data for analysis and reporting is known as data warehousing. The technology provides a repository of an organization's electronic data that is designed to facilitate retrieval, reporting and analysis. Traditionally, analysts have painstakingly extracted information from data recorded in various systems and databases. Today, utilities use of computers, information systems, networks, and sensors has simplified data collection and produced volumes of data that exceed the ability of an individual to analyze data manually. to become useful, captured data must be converted into information and knowledge. The computer-based approach known as data mining is a generic term for the process of applying a computer-based methodology and techniques together with sophisticated, automated data-analysis tools for knowledge discovery. Data mining helps identify trends that are difficult to spot through traditional analysis. Sophisticated algorithms allow users to identify key attributes of operational processes and desired improvement opportunities. Data mining is essential to intelligent asset management. Data mining techniques have been widely used in electrical power engineering as a means to monitor the health of high voltage electrical equipment. Water utilities have an opportunity to mine data gathered by various control and operations equipment to track early signs of decline in expensive pumps and motors. 4) Business Intelligence Applications for Endto-End Life-Cycle Asset Management Business Intelligence (BI) is utilized to support better business and asset management decisions. BI encompasses technologies, applications and practices involved in collecting, integrating, analysis, and presentation of business information such as cost, operations, and asset-related information. BI systems provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations. Frequently BI draws from a data warehouse or a data mart but can also draw from operational data. Software elements support reporting, interactive "slice-and-dice" pivot-table analyses, visualization, and statistical data mining. Applications tackle production, financial, and other business data for business performance management; analysis and reporting; dashboards; scorecards; and portals. Analytical and Reporting Applications. Analytical and Reporting Applications including online, automated applications and manual, adhoc reporting software are used to generate Performance Management Best Practices Page 5

6 forecasts and trending analyses of asset performance. Dashboards. Dashboards monitor and measure activities and processes, and deliver user-specific information related to status or performance of business, operations, or assets. Attributes are represented by key performance indicators (KPIs) with interactive links so users can drill down for details. Visual cues and graphs focus user attention on important trends, changes and exceptions. Dashboards expand traditional management reporting into flexible analysis. For example, dashboards can monitor operational processes in a treatment plant and corresponding performance of plant assets. Scorecards. Scorecards monitor progress towards a goal or asset management target. Like a dashboard, scorecards provide an interactive user interface with asset performance. Portals. As enterprise asset management has evolved, it has become evident that both structured and unstructured data are needed to manage the lifecycle of facilities and infrastructure. Structured data results from transaction and work orders. Unstructured data includes video, photos, manufacturer s equipment specifications, operations manuals, etc. Portals combine content management capabilities with dashboards and scorecards for a 360-degree view of asset performance. Additional Information For additional information contact: Rod van Buskirk, Ph.D. Westin Engineering, Inc Zinfandel Drive, Suite 300 Rancho Cordova, CA At Westin, we're passionate about improving utility performance. Through practical knowledge earned in the water and wastewater industry and our collaborative approach, Westin helps you implement dependable enterprise solutions to retain knowledge, optimize processes, meet compliance requirements, serve customers and improve asset life. Performance Management Best Practices Page 6

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