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Building Organizational Sustainability from an Asset Management Foundation

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The water utility industry is facing significant challenges in these uncertain times. Many of these business drivers (Figure1) have been around for some time but many are new or emerging and now threaten business as usual and even the viability of utilities. Many water and wastewater utilities have started asset management (AM) programs to answer these challenges; some have been on the journey for a number of years. Large infrastructure deficits requiring huge amounts of money needed for infrastructure replacement have caused many to rush into AM programs, only to find that they have not realized the benefits they thought they would achieve and needed Some AM programs only affect a small portion of staff and staff functions that do not directly impact the overall operation of the utility. Others have adopted comprehensive AM programs, but are stuck in visioning and strategy or in implementation of AM areas that have limited (obvious) benefits.

AM best practices include a broad range of activities, but the key aspects are: Asset Planning, Setting Service Levels, Managing Risk to drive asset related decisions, Minimizing Life Cycle Costs, and Managing Asset Related Knowledge. It is also about balancing Service Levels with Cost, and is extremely important to involve people throughout the organization in the AM process instead of making it simply a staff function. It requires the right organizational arrangements to sustain gains achieved as the program evolves. This paper provides a case study on the City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities' asset management journey and provides useful tips and guidance to other utilities that are considering asset management or have already started their journey.
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Keywords: Asset; Business Case; Continuous; Cross-functional; Levels of Service; Risk; Sustainability; Teams; Utilities; Work Processes

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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