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Taking the Mystery Out of Asset Management (3 of 3)

September 6, 2019

Five Reasons to Move Your Program Forward Now

By Kevin Miller, Strategic Consultant, POWER Engineers
Kevin Miller of POWER Engineers

The third of three articles that discuss asset management as it applies to effective utility business processes.

The value proposition of a strong asset management program is just common sense. However, sometimes we need a develop a way to talk to top management about why they should take a step toward asset management maturity and why now. In this article I will share some of those reasons.

Incremental Change Leads to Large Returns

One strong reason to move your asset management program ahead is that even relatively small steps forward can show a solid business return. The best way to bring your asset management program up to speed is work out where you are, determine where you want to be, and take a step in that direction. The most cost efficient and effective asset management programs I’ve seen were not the result of revolution but the evolution of business process. The step can be taken in one or more of the three key components of asset management: data, processes and analysis.

Corporate Business Goals Require It

Utilities today are operating in challenging times. Business models and regulatory environments are changing. Still, the three main business drivers I see in the distribution business are safety, regulatory compliance and reliability. Utility business goals tend to align with these drivers. Stepping up your asset management program now gives you the chance to move metrics present in all three of these business drivers in the correct direction. Understanding and communicating the relationship of asset management to corporate goals is key to the advancement of your asset management program.

Technology Can Help

Technologies on the market today (and likely already in use at your utility) are more integrated and interoperable than ever before. Business and engineering systems which are designed from the ground up to work together can eliminate duplicate data entry and error prone paper-based workflows. In many cases the technology may already be implemented. It may just be that business processes need to be refined to fully leverage the technology and then asset management practices and analysis need to be implemented or improved to get the full business value of the existing investment.

Data is Catching Up

We are in the big data era. Utilities are adding smart devices and data collection technology to the network every day. It’s critical to have technology ready to consume this data and turn it into actionable information. The good news is that the data is much more accurate and timelier than in the past. Data can be leveraged to help us make much better decisions about how we manage our assets than before. It gives us ways to reduce how often we visit equipment while at the same time improve the equipment’s reliability and overall return on investment.

The Price is Right

The good news is that your utility can embark on an evolutionary journey towards an optimized asset management program without a huge up-front investment. Many of the utilities we work with have already made significant investments in systems and data capture. Often, the first steps are to change  business processes and system integrations to improve data. Then the improved data can be leveraged to analyze assets better to make sure you are performing the right inspections and maintenance at the right time. With improved analysis, you can focus on the assets that are at risk and could have the largest impact on failure. Focusing spending on critical assets that need attention and pose risk is the best way to optimize our asset management programs. So, what are you waiting for? Take a step forward.

Also in this series: How Mature Is Your Asset Management Program? and Why You Need to Start with Solid Business Goals

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about asset management or sign up for a link to our registration page for POWER’s next webinar on asset management solutions. You can also view our most recent webinar on demand.

About the Author:

Kevin Miller is a strategic consultant in our Geospatial and Asset Management Business Unit. He started his career with FirstEnergy where he worked for 23 years in GIS, asset management, design, and capital projects. For the last 13 years Kevin has provided expert guidance to customers, product development and sales teams to develop solutions that apply technology and process improvement to achieve business value. He understands the utility business and the systems that support the business at utilities and has worked with many of the largest utilities in North America.