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Overview of Infrastructure Asset Management A View from Both Sides of the Atlantic Oceani

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Abstract:

Europe and the United Kingdom (UK) are at the forefront of Asset Management for water utilities. This is primarily due to the fact of privatization of water utilities in the UK. The UK is currently in the third generation of the Asset Management procedures and has well defined methods for identifying and managing assets. In the United Kingdom (UK), large scale Asset Management has been practiced for approximately 20 years when computer modeling and pipe inspection techniques allowed the current performance and impact of potential improvements to water or sewerage networks to be evaluated for whole systems.

As the industry understanding of the asset base has grown in the UK, so has the variety and application of risk based techniques to aid investment decisions on rehabilitation and replacement decisions. Asset Management and associated risk based techniques are now considered to be standard business practice for utility infrastructure owners and engineers and are well entrenched in the utility infrastructure culture. In the UK, Asset Management practices have contributed to significant savings in capital expenditure through the efficient identification of far more selective work programs, and moreover, have resulted in a savings in operational cost, a consequence of which staff levels have dropped by some 25% over a decade.

Several asset management techniques employing risk elements are within the toolkit of most UK water companies and which help to inform decision support for investment prioritization of critical or vulnerable water supply assets such as trunk mains, protection against raw water contamination, dam safety, environmental protection, capital maintenance and plant reliability and selection.

In the United States (US), it is a different story. There are a number of forms that Asset Management takes in the US including SSES Programs, Infiltration / Reduction Programs, Capital Improvement Programs and CMOM, flow monitoring, SCADA Systems, etc., but very few public utility infrastructure owners have a true Asset Management Program in place. Furthermore, Risk Assessment as used in the UK is now only beginning to be understood and used in the US. The Risk Assessment in the US is done in terms of Criticality of the system components and the effects it will have on the users and public in general should the component of the system go off line. In the US, Risk Assessment is generally not used for investment decisions when it comes to Capital Improvement Programs, but is beginning to be used in the Operations and Maintenance of the systems. This paper will review Asset Management practices in the United States and in the UK, and compares the two sets of practices. The review will also identify key business and technical practices, how Asset Management is perceived by the owners on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and will identify lessons learned from the UK for the North American utility infrastructure owners and engineers.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864706783779258

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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