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Infrastructure maintenance and the digital method

Condition assessment allows public sector agencies to guarantee the delivery of safe, reliable, and efficient service to their constituents.
All local public sector agencies face a common set of challenges. They need to ascertain the condition of organisational assets to monitor and maintain performance, make intelligent capital investment decisions regarding aging assets, and secure necessary funds for reinvestment from city council. Ultimately, condition assessment allows public sector agencies to guarantee the delivery of safe, reliable, and efficient service to their constituents.

Barry Diedericks
Barry Diedericks
Maintenance and operations teams of public agencies aim to maintain a high level of asset reliability, provide a clean and attractive plant with efficient services, and create safe working conditions for employees. Additionally, they seek to manage facility assets through infrastructure stabilisation and manage the design, implementation, and construction of capital projects and physical improvements along with all maintenance programmes.

The CSIR notes that condition assessments “should be the basis for management and maintenance decisions in the built environment towards sustainable construction.” According to Barry Diedericks - Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) Subject Matter Expert at Softworx, Infor’s Master Partner in Africa - there are three essential elements to condition assessment.

The first is inspection. “A physical and visual examination of the asset is necessary to begin. When an agency has thousands of assets, this can present a significant challenge in both time and labour,” says Diedericks.

The second is assessment. “Using a condition rating scale for transit agencies, for example, a numeric rating scale from one to five is used. Five is excellent and one is poor. An asset is in a state of good repair when its physical condition is at or above two and a half. Based on the inspection, agencies can create their own assessment approach, but must be able to justify the rationale.”

The third is estimation. “Evaluating the investment requirement to rehabilitate or replace assets in less than good repair is the final step. This is considered the most difficult part of the process.

To begin, it is important to determine why condition assessment is valuable. This helps agencies make decisions on resources, time, and energy. For some organisations, this question is not answered by regulatory and compliance requirements, but by goals of migrating to a condition-based monitoring and predictive maintenance strategy rather than a reactive maintenance strategy.”

The next step is to establish who will participate on the project. Creating a balanced team ensures the condition assessment process will benefit from different skills and points of view and avoid preferential treatment. Teams should consist of individuals with a strong working knowledge of their domain and the entirety of plant operations.

Following the creation of the team, public sector agencies must determine what needs to be assessed and how. Identify what assets will be assessed initially. Phase one of the assessment should include the most critical assets and determine the actual assessment method. This is done by configuring mobile checklists and designing reports that will be used to provide rationale behind investment requests.

Diedericks confirms that assets should be assessed based on: physicality; performance; probability; and productivity.

An assessment of physical condition entails looking for oil leaks, rust, water leaks, cracking/fractures, and deterioration. “This means walking the grounds, locating the equipment, and performing a visual inspection using the mobile checklist. While drone technology allows the agent to view and record the state of assets, mobile devices make processes more efficient and less time-consuming. Condition ratings are then input for each asset on the mobile checklist, which automatically feeds the scores into the EAM system,” he adds.

Evaluating performance requires the assessment of the characteristics inherent in the organisation’s unique set of assets. “This includes: current and future capacity; mechanical efficiency; retention time; adequacy of mixing; process stability; control; and level of storage. Answers to these performance metrics are based on operational systems data combined with maintenance history stored in the EAM system.”

Determining probability involves scoring the asset based on its frequency of failure, or mean time between failures (MTBF), based on a systematic review of equipment maintenance history stored in the EAM system.

When evaluating productivity, the agent must ask: If this asset goes down, how will it impact our plant productivity? Service? Safety? Financial position? “The answer to these productivity questions should be based on each asset’s criticality, risk, and historical performance,” says Diedericks.

The collection of the assessment data is only half of the equation. “The goal is to use the combinations of ratings to prioritise reinvestment in the rehabilitation or replacement of assets. Completing the analysis also involves gathering other types of data such as life cycle attributes and maintenance history,” concludes Diedericks. “Having this data available in a single repository helps agencies to formulate algorithms and report output in a meaningful way that is easy to explain.”

18 May 2018 12:49

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