What can asset management do for utilities?

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Water and wastewater treatment plants are among the most complex facilities built and maintained by utility companies, whether public or private. Each facility contains thousands of pieces of equipment worth millions of dollars that must operate in concert for the many complex treatment processes to function effectively.  The consequences of these assets not operating at peak efficiency are numerous and costly, including:

  • At a minimum, pumps, motors, weirs, valves, gears, bushings, etc. will have to be replaced more frequently.
  • More frequent emergency repairs which necessitate more overtime pay. 
  • Inefficient equipment often requires more power to operate and the more chemicals to make processes work appropriately.  
  • Ultimately, the result can be risk to public health and the health of the environment and an accompanying loss of public confidence.

How does a utility company insure lower operating costs and keep its equipment and processes operating at peak efficiency, all while meeting environmental regulations and maintaining public confidence? Most attempt to accomplish this with routine maintenance as required by the manufacturer, and responding to maintenance issues as they arise. Almost no one has adopted a strategy to track the performance of each piece of equipment, track all maintenance and resulting performance and use predictive analytics to establish a proactive asset management program.

An asset management program based on predictive analytics will result in a dramatic reduction in operations costs and regulatory violations, and an increase in public confidence. Major pieces of equipment and their critical parts can be repaired before failure, reducing overtime costs and potential environmental damage. Proactive maintenance keeps equipment operating efficiently which reduces power consumption. Having a comprehensive list of equipment and required maintenance allows tighter control of inventory parts, which prevents overstocking costs. These are just three major benefits. Imagine how many others exist.

Predictive analytics gives any operation the ability to use existing data to produce more in depth knowledge of how to improve their outcomes and reduce costs. This is a path that has tremendous potential.

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About Author

Bill Coleman

Advisory Industry Consultant

Bill Coleman works with SAS local government customers across the US to understand best practices and solutions. Coleman applies his more than 30 years of experience as a senior leader in city and local government to guide SAS product and marketing management. From 1994 to 2008, he served as Town Manager of Cary, NC, the seventh-largest municipality in the state with a population exceeding 130,000. Coleman was responsible for planning, organizing and directing municipal operations, which included more than 1,000 employees and 11 departments providing a full range of municipal services. Under his leadership, Cary was the first municipality in North Carolina to work on performance enhancement system. The system was designed to help the town maintain its high quality of life by improving resource allocation and operational efficiencies throughout town government, beginning with the areas of public safety and development services.

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