Operational Phase

This topic covers:

Future Systems Maintenance and Operations Costs

The maintenance of the databases for an integrated business or asset management system during the operational phase requires considerable effort. It is difficult to quantify the current costs as wide variations occur in the quality of the existing systems. These deliver considerably different levels of service and it is hard to judge relative costs or benefits.

Quantifying future costs has proved to be even more difficult because there are few fully integrated systems in operation for comparisons. Final costs are obviously related to the complexity of systems and the level to which asset components are included in the systems.

It is known that managers and users of new systems believe that they are completing their tasks far more economically than before and the effectiveness of their organizations has risen markedly.

It is essential that systems be implemented so that the benefits derived clearly outweigh the costs of data collection, system implementation, and the ongoing maintenance. It is important that all parties involved continually review the objectives of their programs and the benefits that are being derived, and modify their systems and the maintenance required accordingly.

The greatest impact on system operation and maintenance costs relates to the degree to which system "ownership" among staff is achieved.

By inducing a "bottom driven" culture within the organization, the workforce staff gain a sense of responsibility and ownership of both the information system and the work done on the assets. This has a very beneficial impact on the cost related to maintaining the systems.

One of the major benefits of systems ownership results because staff can update data, i.e. maintain the system, as part of their normal job function.

This is a function of the:

  • User friendliness of the system
  • Downward devolution of responsibility for decisions by management
  • Culture of the organization.

Regardless of circumstances it is essential to keep the system up to date. If the workload of staff increases significantly, and they are not able to complete all of the data input, contract keyboard operators or other staff may need to be deployed.

System Responsibilities

Once new information is available, it is important that the organization ensures this data is updated in a logical and responsible manner. For this purpose it is essential that different staff members are made responsible for various systems.

The following system responsibilities are required:

  • Digital Mapping System
  • Asset Register System
  • Maintenance Management System
  • Condition Assessment System.

It is important that designated staff update and amend the systems. If errors are found in any of these systems, then details should be handed to the responsible officer to ensure the updating or amending is carried out quickly and effectively. Feedback of the corrected data to the person that initiated the change is desirable.

Data Quality of Field Staff Returns

Operational information feedback is important where emergency repairs or corrective maintenance has been carried out, and also important for planned maintenance activities such as switchboard monitoring etc.

Initially, the data returned from the field staff may not be adequately completed. For reasons similar to those outlined above, it is essential that this data be completed so that all deviations from the planned maintenance can be recorded, and full details of the reason for the failure (and the work to rectify the failure) recorded on the completed corrective maintenance orders. This is equally important for contracted services.

The work is generally carried out by outside staff, including leading hands and laborers. It is vitally important that these employees are made aware of their obligations to complete the data forms accurately and with sufficient detail.

Construction of New Capital Works

When the construction of capital works projects occurs the new works MUST be added to the asset register, maintenance management system, plans and other spatial records.

Details of the equipment supplied, maintenance procedures to be undertaken as well as operations manuals and other general information should be requested. As such, it is suggested that the organization issue a "handover document" to contractors or consultants and their own in house staff, to ensure that the system is cost effectively updated for the acquisition of new assets.

Data Maintenance and Updating Resources

It is essential that all asset management systems are bottom driven, and predominantly used by superintendents and leading hands on the outside workforce.

The use of the system involves both the planning and production of work orders, and also the recording of information back into the systems. This is carried out when work orders are closed off and when fault histories for corrective maintenance activities or actions are recorded.

During the initial implementation phase, staff will find many maintenance management activities (routines) difficult to fit into their current programs. Once they have come to grips with the implementation of the system and the adoption of this predominantly "planned" environment, their work routines should settle down.

At times of peak workload, staff may be unable to complete the data input in a particular timeframe. A casual keyboard operator, or operator from another section, can be employed to input this data as required by the operational staff.

It is recommended that completed work order (with fault histories and comments) as well as asset attributes be collected in a "update" tray and closed off on a weekly basis by a keyboard operator.

Future Activities

The key functional activities during the operational phase will involve the appropriate management of the assets.

The key management disciplines will include:

  • Strategic planning including strategic asset management
  • Facility/service management and operations
  • Asset development/procurement
  • Asset maintenance.

The first two functions are considered an owner or client core activity while the latter two are considered suitable for contract or service provider type activities. A project management (owner) role is required to ensure that the contracted services are delivered on time and cost.

The key elements of this future service vision will include:

  • Ensuring that our service delivery levels and standards are pitched at the needs and expectations of our customers, ratepayers and stakeholders
  • Matching these demand scenarios by an appropriate supply scenario that takes into account all management options to deliver an optimized strategy resulting in least appropriate cost
  • Adopting a contestable competitive environment to ensure that the unit costs involved in asset creation, operations, maintenance and renewal are all delivered cost effectively.

From an asset management perspective there are likely to be two key changes in their asset management activities, namely:

  • The adoption of advanced life cycle asset management processes and practices
  • Introducing a contestable "competitive environment" for unit costs.

Adoption of Advanced Lifecycle AM Processes

The greatest impact in this area will involve the significant cultural change in the way the organization and individual staff members deal with their assets and in most cases this will require cultural change management activities.

From the asset management perspective training will be required to introduce staff to the new processes and practices as well as the information systems involved and the data collection and data maintenance requirements.

These training programs would cover issues such as:

  • Why do we need to complete advanced asset management?
  • What is advanced life cycle asset management and how can we use the information system to do this?
  • How does the system fit into the operations of the organization?
  • We need to have someone outline the way in which the software process works
  • How can we use the system to complete advanced asset management?
  • How to use the information system to:
    • Make an enquiry (cost control) on the general ledger?
    • Make an enquiry on an asset?
    • Use the goods and service catalogue (bill and materials) to generate valuations on assets?
    • Raise a work request?
    • Raise a work order?
    • Close a work order and record appropriate feedback?
    • Entering an asset including the covering of all entries required for the fully integrated system?
    • Asset handover and capitalization policies?
    • Maintenance of the system e.g. correcting data?
    • Setting up the maintenance system to accept programmed procedures, planning and scheduling?
    • Use the GIS system?

Advanced training

The entire program would be developed under a "Cost Reduction" and "Improved Customer Service" approach to asset management. The key topics will form the cornerstone to these objectives.

The training shall provide instruction in developing awareness and utilizing tools associated with the following topics:

  • Condition assessment processes and decay of assets
  • Risk assessment and management techniques for infrastructure assets
  • Maintenance plan development using Failure Modes, Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) or RCM techniques
  • Optimized renewal decision-making analysis (ORDM)
  • Developing total asset management plans (TAMPs).

The Contestable “Competitive Environment”

A considerable effort and cultural change is generally required for most organizations as they swing to a full "contracting out" relationship.

This is a complex and detailed area and requires significant:

  • Process redesign
  • Organizational restructure
  • Cultural change.

Some of the key issues that need to be considered during this phase are:

  • The future roles of in-house service providers
  • The roles and responsibilities between contractor and owner
  • Contract types and specification development
  • Contract supervision techniques and structures
  • Contract size, types and packages
  • Ownership of information and information systems.

Continuous Improvement Phase

Once all advanced processes have been implemented and the initial peak operational phase activities are in-hand, the organization can then swing into a full continuous improvement program for its asset management activities.

As with strategy implementation and initial operational phase, regular progress monitoring and performance reviews should be completed by the asset management team and/or steering committee to ensure that:

  • The program and specialized projects are on track
  • That they are delivering the benefits the were assessed in the implementation business case
  • The problems and pitfalls are identified and appropriately overcome
  • Those future areas of benefit are properly assessed and implemented to suit the organization.

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Effective Implementation   AAM for Larger Organizations