Asset Information Systems

This element assesses the organization's asset information systems, which support the asset management processes. It looks at "best practice" functionality of the various applications required for asset management and assesses this against current practice.

The assessment process divides the data systems into three groups:

  • Primary applications (registry, location, valuation and physical attribute data)
  • Secondary applications (maintenance, condition, detailed attributes, basic performance, failure mode data)
  • Tertiary applications (advanced-analytics oriented data to support ORDM).

This topic covers:

Asset management information systems can range from the most rudimentary to the very sophisticated. Three levels of "Best Practice" systems are presented (not to be confused with the three categories of applications outlined above):

  • Basic (Level 1)
  • Intermediate (Level 2)
  • Advanced (Level 3).

An outline of Best Practice asset management information systems for each of the three levels is shown in the following graphics.

Best Practice AM Information Systems - Level 1 Basic


Best Practice AM Information Systems - Level 2 Intermediate


Best Practice AM Information Systems - Level 3 Advanced

Primary Applications

This section covers the primary information system applications:

Finance System

How financial costs can be assessed, aggregated and disaggregated for asset management.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The finance system is interfaced to the asset management system, which allows the true cost of operating the assets to be identified and aggregated.

Customer and Property Records

This element assesses the functionality of customer and property records. It looks at the linkages between these data elements and the assets (for example, how are meter readings logged against customers and assets?).

Best appropriate practice includes:

  • A customer information and billing system that includes asset management functionality such as:
  • A central complaints management system that records complaints and allows complaints history to be analyzed
  • A link between the customer database and asset categories to allow analysis of asset performance and its impact on customers
  • Billing or usage records, such as meter readings, etc
  • Linked where necessary to the corporate fixed financial asset register system.

Complaint / Customer Relationship Management System

How the organization:

  • Identifies customers served by their assets
  • Links customer complaints with a physical system, facility or an individual asset.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization can monitor the asset performance from a customer perspective and track and monitor the way the complaints are handled.

Asset Register

The functionality of the asset register meets asset management needs in terms of:

  • Asset hierarchy, aggregation and disaggregation
  • Flexibility to expand and contract to suit the specific needs of the assets.

Best appropriate practice includes:

This asset register system allows the organization to:

  • Understand the connectivity of assets
  • Understand the hierarchy of assets in a facility or major asset group
  • Enable the disaggregation of the register down to maintenance managed items
  • Alter the level for different asset types and facilities to take into account their criticality
  • Aggregate data to provide costing or valuation at defined levels
  • Clearly identify and link each asset through the GIS or facility hierarchy
  • Enable the following attributes to be recorded against each asset level:
    • Basic physical attributes (primary data)
    • Secondary attributes such as manufacturers, details and other similar information
    • Tertiary attributes such as spare parts inventory requirements and sources of this information.

Plans and Drawing Records

The library system that is used to relate hard copy plans and/or electronic diagrams and drawings to individual assets, facilities or systems.

Attention is also given to how old plans are recorded, accessed and maintained.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has a plans and drawings records system that is linked to the asset register and contains all the necessary plans including:

  • Detailed location plans
  • Cross sections and elevations
  • Structural details
  • Architectural details
  • Detailed service diagrams
  • Electrical installation diagrams
  • Control diagrams.

These plans are available in an accessible system that includes:

  • Direct links to AutoCAD electronic records
  • Direct links to scanned diagrams held in an AutoCAD system
  • Library index information linking to hard copy records.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

The functionality that a GIS system provides the organization. The benefits GIS contributes to the management of the asset types (networked, connectivity, etc.).

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has a GIS that:

  • Contains all linear assets and their spatial location
  • Contains layers that include topographic details and contours, property boundaries and cadastral boundaries.

The system has a direct link between the assets and the asset register and maintenance or life cycle asset management systems.

The system connects customers or properties with individual assets and allows further analysis through the property or billing system for meter readings and customer criticality.

The GIS allows the display of other information such as aerial photography, geological data and other databases that would be useful in managing the assets.

Maintenance Management System

The functionality of the maintenance management system to:

  • Develop a planned maintenance program
  • Record all unplanned maintenance
  • Link to inventory and job management.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has a maintenance management system that allows the allocation of planned maintenance activities to individual assets, down to maintenance managed items.

This system has the following functionality:

  • Planned maintenance procedures
  • Schedule these maintenance procedures against assets or components based on either time, usage or performance-based criteria
  • Record all unplanned or corrective maintenance activities associated with the asset or their components
  • Link to an asset inventory containing spare parts and other materials for maintenance activities
  • Record costs on an hourly basis for labor, materials and plant against these individual maintenance managed items
  • Link to a job or works management system.

Operations & Maintenance Manuals

The quality of the operations and maintenance manuals, and the way these systems are linked to assets. It assesses their availability and their accessibility to staff. It also reviews the overall quality of the key elements necessary for the appropriate operations plans and linkages to emergency response plans.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has an electronic operations & maintenance manual. However, most maintenance information will be recorded in the maintenance management system.

This operations manual:

  • Is directly linked to the asset register and records operational information against systems, subsystems, facilities or individual assets and their major components
  • Records all key operational issues such as:
    • Normal operation
    • Normal start up
    • Normal shut down
    • Emergency procedures for critical failures.

Works Management (Job/Resource) System

How the organization plans and resources the workloads for their CIP and normal operations and maintenance activities.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has a Works Management (Job/Resource) System that allocates resources to work orders, including:

  • Labor/skills
  • Contractors/skills
  • Materials
  • Spare parts
  • Equipment and plant.

The system covers all works including:

  • Planned maintenance
  • Unplanned maintenance
  • New works/asset creation
  • Renewal/rehabilitation
  • Operations.

The best practice model includes an assessment of the links between the systems that generate resource needs (purchasing, job/resource management, asset acquisition) and the way their outputs generate an organization-wide resource management picture.

The demands for resources and materials (stores) is generally derived from the strategic planning process; so the support information systems include the:

  • Maintenance Management System (MMS)
  • CIP Management System (CWS) (asset creation or acquisition)
  • Operations Management Systems (OS) / and or activities.

These systems must be effectively integrated or linked to key management applications, including the:

  • Works / Project Management Systems (PMS)
  • Resource Management Systems (RMS) which normally integrates the Human Resource Management System
  • Inventory Control Systems (ICS)
  • Purchasing System, which is generally part of the Finance Information Systems (FIS).

The Resource Management System should:

  • Perform the functions of an inventory / stock control system
  • Be capable of managing and allocating (reserving) resources or inventory to projects or work orders including:
    • In house staff resources (staff management / HR system)
    • External contractors / consulting services (external resources)
    • Operations and maintenance requirements
    • Materials / inventory / spare parts /stores management
  • Allow immediate assessment of 'current stock levels' and their location (which store / warehouse / maintenance vehicle or supplier)
  • Trigger the "automatic ordering of stocks at a prescribed minimum stock levels"
  • Use past and predicted work histories to determine the economically justified "minimum stock levels" and determine optimal order size related to each store or warehouse location "
  • Be linked to the purchasing / finance system for the acquisition of resources not currently available
  • Be part of a mobile computing capability that allows staff in the field to determine the most appropriate access to the required spare parts in an emergency.

System Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA)

How the organization operates and monitors the performance of their asset systems and plant, automatically from remote locations. The degree to which this has been implemented is assessed together with the economic justification process.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The operations of the infrastructure or assets will be assisted by the use of an automated system control and data acquisition system.

The degree of automation will depend on the economic benefits.

The organization assesses such investments and benchmarks with others to continuously assess the degree to which these applications should be employed.

The SCADA system will:

  • Remotely operate particular assets
  • Automatically collect all data related to the performance of the facilities
  • Have mobile computing links so that all operations staff can make use of the operational features
  • Include the key operating parameters or performance envelopes linked to the levels of service expected by the equipment or system facilities
  • Complete rudimentary analysis of the data and action response requests (corrective maintenance or operational orders) or raise alarms when performance is outside the bounds of the performance envelopes
  • Store performance data and automatically generate reports on system performance.

Secondary Applications

This section assess the secondary systems:

Knowledge Management / EDC System

How the organization stores and disseminates information. The functionality, accessibility and user friendliness of the application.

The knowledge system relates to the Quality Assurance processes of asset management and the practices related to assets.

The Electronic Document Control (EDC) System:

  • Allows the organization to make key reports, correspondence and documents available to all staff
  • Should be linked through the asset register.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has an electronic knowledge management system that includes the key quality assurance or process and practice protocols and diagrams for all of its asset management activities.

This system:

  • Is based on life cycle asset management activities and functions
  • Enables the business to record processes and practices and related work flow diagrams
  • Records different levels of quality assurance based on the confidence level required by the output
  • Clearly indicates to users the level to which they are expected to complete their work in different activities and for different investment options etc.
  • Easily updates and improves these processes
  • Allows individual staff members to drill down to practices and analytic techniques associated with particular assets, for example, how to perform a condition assessment of concrete asphalt collection system pipe
  • Enables staff to log key reports and documents against an asset or facility.

Inventory / Spares / Warehousing and Purchasing System

The relative quality and functionality of any inventory system and the way in which it interfaces to the asset management system for ordering materials and spare parts. It also looks at how the system is linked to a purchasing process to optimize materials, specialist services or contracted activities.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has an inventory and spare parts system linked to its purchasing system. This system allows the operational staff to:

  • Link inventory stocks in the asset register
  • Understand what stock is available and where it is available
  • Retrieve details on agents or suppliers for ordering stock
  • Interface to the maintenance management system to understand what spare parts and materials are required for normal planned maintenance activities and for emergency activities
  • Access electronic purchasing and invoicing via web-enabled applications.

Condition Assessment and Record System

How condition data is recorded over time and how condition and residual life predictions are made.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has a condition assessment record system that records:

  • Condition assessment data
  • Failure modes and their characteristics
  • The ranking of the degrees of failure for each failure mode
  • A point score system for:
    • Technical failure issues
    • Customer expectation issues or weightings
    • An overall condition assessment rating
  • The condition rating can be recorded against a time scale
  • The system develops a curve of best fit against the condition rating to predict the effective life of the asset
  • The organization can set the acceptable or non-acceptable condition ratings for particular asset types.

Capacity/Utilization Predictive Models

How the organization assesses the overall capacity of the asset or its integrated system and predicts future demand-driven capacity failures and their time frames.

Predictive Models for Other Primary Failure Modes

The system/application that records and trends/predicts the timing of the other key failure modes such as:

  • Performance/levels of service
  • Physical mortality/reliability
  • Effective cost.

The ability of the information systems to predict the future condition, probability of failure and likely future costs i.e. maintenance.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has predictive models that will model the various key failure modes.

The organization can:

  • Record key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Develop curves of best fit against this data
  • Record the lower limits of acceptable performance at the asset, facility and system level
  • Predict the point at which failure will likely take place.

Emergency Response Plans

The availability and quality of the Emergency Response Planning Software System. It looks at whether the plans are stored and accessed/recovered using a GIS interfaced asset register.

Best appropriate practice includes:

Emergency response plans or contingency plans are available in electronic form including information such as:

  • The key emergency response activities
  • The person responsible for these activities.

Detailed Gantt charts in Microsoft Project or other similar system where complicated interconnectivity of activities is required.

The asset register system shows the availability of these ERP plans.

Contract Management / Administration System

How the work order and project management systems support the contract management activities. It looks at:

  • How the work is identified and issued
  • The completion of the work
  • Supervision or approval roles
  • Invoicing and payment system.

The intent of this system is to reduce the cost of:

  • Quality assurance
  • Sample assessment selection
  • Aggregation of costs
  • Work order modifications
  • Automation of invoicing/payment
  • Assessing Contractor performance.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has a contract management administration system that links the work order raised under the maintenance or works management systems to maintenance or construction contracts by:

  • Clearly identifying the contractor responsible
  • Identifying the lump sum fee or schedule of rates
  • Linking the work order to the specification of procedures or work to be completed
  • Allowing verification that the work has been satisfactory completed
  • Linking to the organization's purchasing and payment systems
  • Enabling the assessment of individual teams or contracting companies.

Tertiary (Life Cycle) Applications

This section evaluates the quality of the tertiary systems:

Risk Assessment

The information systems that help staff assess the risks associated with their assets and their asset activities. The application is assessed on its ability to:

  • Complete different levels of risk assessment
  • Develop an economic business risk exposure
  • Make predictive and hindsight (backcasting) calculations
  • Develop risks or potential benefits in terms of business goals.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has a risk assessment package that helps staff to:

  • Develop and understand the consequences of failure for all operational and business investments
  • Rate in economic terms the consequence of failure including:
    • Repairs
    • Injury and death
    • Environmental damage
    • Impact on customers
    • Third party damage
    • Loss of product
    • Loss of business image.

Treatment or Risk Reduction Cost Options

How these applications help staff to extract base estimating data that can be used in:

  • Risk reduction opportunities
  • Projection of cash flows and operating expenditures for:
    • Non asset solutions
    • Maintenance or operations (repair)
    • Rehabilitation
    • Replacement
    • Disposal.

Optimized Renewal Decision Making / Capital Investment Evaluation

How this application helps staff to complete the economic evaluation of the various management treatment options for asset renewal or replacement. The application is assessed on its ability to:

  • Evaluate a series of alternative options
  • Input data for the various parameters effecting the decision
  • Cover the cost life cycle of all options
  • Alter and complete various scenarios
  • Display the resulting information in an effective, persuasive manner.

This application would also be capable of assessing new assets or service program options. In this case, it would perform the function of a life cycle cost model.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has applications to assess renewal or life extension capital investments.

The applications allow the organization to evaluate different options and identify the lowest net preset value or life cycle cost option, as well as secondary alternatives that may represent lesser capital investments and higher recurrent costs, including a "do nothing" option.

Life Cycle Costing System

How effectively the life cycle costing system assesses new assets or infrastructure service options or obligations.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has a life cycle cost model that allows it to develop and assess the life cycle cost of different infrastructure service options.

Mobile Computing Systems

To what extent the organization can take its asset management information systems into the field, to assist in operations and maintenance management and data feedback. The systems assessed include:

  • Portable PC's, laptops or notebooks
  • Handheld computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs)
  • Handheld loggers, barcode scanners etc.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has remote access to its asset management systems and provides laptops or other suitable facilities for their field staff.

Project Management Applications

The organization's project management software and systems, to handle simple or complex project management tasks.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has project management software that allows it to complete simple and complex management tasks.

This software is used for complicated construction projects and for major rehabilitations or upgrades and other life extension projects.

The project management application is used in the organization's failure management and contingencies planning where appropriate.

Maintenance Analysis Software

The organization's applications for maintenance management planning and analysis, using reliability centered maintenance techniques, including "failure mode, effects and criticality analysis" (FMECA) and "root cause" analysis.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has provided RCM analysis software so its maintenance staff can use all available maintenance data to produce justifiable maintenance strategies and plans, using reliability centered maintenance techniques.

This software will be interfaced to the asset register so that any staff member can see whether or not an analysis has been undertaken on the assets or facilities that are currently being reviewed.

Strategies for each asset ("run to failure", "proactive maintenance", etc.) are recorded in the maintenance management system.

Performance Monitoring Applications

How the organization records and presents its asset or service performance (water quality records, vibration analysis etc.)

Best appropriate practice includes:

For all its performance criteria, the organization has suitable database applications that allow it to monitor performance data and report exceptions to the responsible staff.

Stores / Spares Optimization Application

The quality of any spare parts optimization process software.

Best appropriate practice includes:

Where the organization has substantial spare parts and stores for its maintenance and capital activities, it has considered spare parts/ stores optimization software, which will look at the number and type of parts that should be maintained and their location.

Environmental Management System / Laboratory Information Management System

The functionality available for assessing compliance with environmental regulation and organizational policy, and in managing laboratory information.

Best appropriate practice includes:

For EMS:

  • A direct link to the asset register for each asset
  • A record of the environmental risk involved with the asset and its operations
  • A record of the organization's performance in these areas
  • On-line contingency plans for dealing with these risks
  • Direct links to the operational / maintenance and risk assessment systems to ensure the effective management of these risks.

These systems allow the organization to monitor and trend its performances in:

  • Waste discharges being made to sewer systems
  • Treatment processes, operations and control activities, including discharge
  • Wastewater disposal performance monitoring.

General Information System Issues

The integration and user friendliness or effectiveness of the applications from a whole of life asset management perspective including:

User Friendliness

The user friendliness of the various applications and whether they encourage users to make use of the full functionality.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The systems are user friendly and allow ease of use for the full functionality of the available applications.

Integration of Systems

The level of integration achieved by the various applications, especially in the primary applications area, and the way in which secondary and tertiary applications are interfaced with the primary applications.

This assessment concentrates on whether integration avoids duplication and the need for multiple entries or data quality checking.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The systems are fully integrated or interfaced to provide a direct link between primary, secondary and tertiary applications, with regular replication or updates.

The information system strategy delivers hardware and communications systems that ensure adequate access and response times to enable quick data access and timely asset management decision-making.

The organization has a long-term system strategy to ensure that required functionalities are maintained into the future.

The system allows Internet, intranet and remote access.

Databases are managed so that they meet AM user requirements.

Rationalized databases or data warehousing techniques are used rather than a plethora of non-integrated databases.

Systems and applications are web-enabled where feasible.

The Information Systems group has a strong "user focus" and follows best practice policies in the provision of:

  • Business processes
  • User requirements
  • Scope of service
  • Future strategies.

Access/Response Issues

The availability or access that staff have to the key AM information systems. It assesses the need for access to the individual applications or the system as a whole. It also looks at the response times for:

  • Logging on
  • Normal usage/editing
  • Creating new entries
  • Simple, standard inquires or reports
  • Sophisticated, ad-hoc inquires or reports.

System Strategy

The organization's strategy for the AM IT systems in terms of:

  • Future life
  • Future strategies
  • Hardware and software policies.


Case Studies Australia & New Zealand

New Zealand Councils Cooperate on Information System

New Zealand councils are typically small and do not have the resources to develop complete and integrated utility infrastructure systems.

So, the local government engineers association co-ordinated a national approach.

A sub-committee of seven sponsoring councils developed first a mission, and then a strategy, for an “Advanced Asset Management Information System” for water, wastewater and land drainage services, specific to New Zealand.

The resulting worldwide tenders resulted in the selection of a system made available to all councils for significant savings.

By using common AMIS, councils are able to network, support and benchmark more easily with each other.

Electronic Meeting Software Greatly Speeds Up Re-Engineering Project

A large Metropolitan agency in Melbourne Australia used electronic meeting software, developed by the University of Arizona, to re-engineer all of its asset management processes in less than three months.

The software enabled a lot of people to have a real input without fear of treading on toes, or harming sacred cows.

Furthermore it maximized use of staff time and enabled a full and complete record of events and inputs to be appropriately categorized for export to other mediums for presentation and reporting.

The agency’s process re-engineering was done in one-fifth the time that would be required by traditional approaches.

Electronic Diary Software Aids Asset Utilization and Management

Tip! Make a date with an asset!

Many offices have electronic diary software.

Transport SA and other offices are now using these diaries to keep control of assets, such as bookable equipment or rooms.

The asset is treated as a person and ‘appointments’ are made.

It keeps track of the asset – and no one has to find the bookings clerk!

Plan Your Information System with Resourcing in Mind - Part One

If you are going to design or modify your system in-house, consider whether the size of your information technology unit now, and in the probable future, can sustain it. One agency had had a very complex – and expensive - computer system but had not generated any output!

After seven years of no outputs, the CEO was called before a Parliamentary Committee and asked why. He replied “Well, we had a programmer setting up the system but he was made a salary offer we could not match and he left. It took us 6 months to find a replacement and another 6 months for him to get familiar enough with the system to actually make some headway. He was with us about two years, then he got a better salary offer. We have now been through 3 programmers –and quite frankly we are so busy getting the thing to work, and to put data in, that we haven’t had the opportunity to start getting any information out!”

The system was eventually scrapped, and the organisation now uses a bureau service.

Plan Your Information System with Resourcing in Mind Part Two

At the same public inquiry, the CEO of the non-functioning AMIS was asked “What is the trend of demand on your agency?”

The CEO, stuck for an answer, said “I shall have to take that on notice”!

The moral of the story is: if you don’t know what your business is and how much of it you do, you won’t know what kind of an AMIS or information service to get.

Get Your Business Processes Right First

Understanding your data needs, data flows and roles and responsibilities are essential cultural change activities before getting a new Asset Management Information System (AMIS) If we don’t get the right processes in place first, our new information systems will just help us make bad decision even quicker. Your AMIS must replicate the business processes that represent best practice life cycle asset management.

Innovations in Shutoff Blocks

Shutoff Block automation and creation was considered difficult to achieve, mainly due to the complex data structures where associated water pipes and the valves that operate the water network were not segmented to take into account the association of customers.

Traditionally data is captured into systems to serve a primary purpose and does not cater for secondary purposes.

Yarra Valley Water in Melbourne used new GIS Spatial tools and concepts to automate and reduce the creation time for all shutoffs from an estimated 3 years to 3 months. Maintenance of the data sets, which were constantly changing (as well as historical data) was one of the major challenges of implementing this application.

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