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Implementing an Asset Management Focused CIP – Balancing Investments and Prioritizing Projects Where They Are Needed the MOST

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Many utilities have discovered that fine tuning their capital planning process to integrate asset management concepts and tools can often yield rapid and measurable cost savings and performance improvements. The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (ECDEP) made the decision to kick off their asset management efforts with a business oriented and financially driven CIP (Capital Improvement Planning) process that focused on project prioritization and business case analysis. A critical success factor was involving the whole organization in the process from the beginning including: Utility Leadership, District Managers, Engineering, Operations and Maintenance, and Finance.

ECDEP worked with a team of consultants to develop a comprehensive asset management focused CIP for the Division of Sewerage Management (DSM). The goal of the project was to develop a best-in-class capital planning and prioritization process that ensures a rational and sustainable CIP, responding to the business needs of both the Department and its Stakeholders. The policies, procedures, and processes designed as part of this project helped to ensure that optimal capital projects were selected and implemented consistent with asset management practice. The project included numerous workshops with stakeholders from across the organization to ensure that all perspectives were considered in the evaluation and prioritization of capital projects. Adding additional complexity to the project was the fact that eight distinct sewer districts were involved, all with their own competing priorities and budgets.

The presentation will include a detailed case study of the processes, procedures, and outcomes of the project including the specific key activities below:

Baseline condition assessment of major plant and buried assets – Development of policies, procedures and methodologies for asset condition and criticality assessment across ECDEP's wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations, and collection system assets. This included a physical and process condition rating of key infrastructure, along with workshops and training for ECDEP staff, to gain buy-in from all levels within the organization.

Evaluation of strategic business drivers – Examination and documentation of major internal and external forces that drive capital planning and asset management decision making such as: regulatory compliance, service level demands, and financial requirements.

Development of project prioritization methodologies – Development of formal methodologies and processes that applied a business case approach including concepts such as: service level impacts, risk and criticality analysis, life-cycle cost analysis, and financial analysis including ROI (Return on Investment) and rate impacts.

The outcome of the project was a final CIP document that included a prioritized and validated list of projects for the upcoming financial period including growth, rehab/renewal, and enhancement projects. After the CIP was finalized, additional workshops and analyses examined the rate and financial impacts to ensure that the proposed project schedule and scope was in alignment with the financial goals and objectives of the utility including customer rates. Most importantly, the project concluded with a defined process through which the DSM can update the initial CIP document on an ongoing basis using the tools, templates, and techniques learned and applied throughout the project.

The presentation will conclude with a discussion of future plans for implementation and enhancement, including a district-wide CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System). The presentation will also include a discussion of how ECDEP has used this information to inform and educate key stakeholders, including commissioners and the public, of the need and justification for capital and asset management programs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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