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Smart asset management for critical urban infrastructure

One of the major challenges with rapid urbanisation is there is not enough infrastructure to support the increasing number of people moving to cities every week.

This modern diaspora has asset owners clamouring for control, as lifecycles are affected by the adjustments taking place in society. One of Aurecon’s key offerings, Asset Management, aims to address this.

Safeguarding asset utilisation is becoming more relevant in customer facing organisations in sectors such as transport, education, utilities and health where disruptions can impact service availability, safety and reputation. An effective asset management program in mining, manufacturing and building sectors is fundamental where lost production capability has an immediate impact on the financial bottom line.

Old school systems based on classical knowledge or rule-based decision support are ceding to “smart” asset management program that embrace artificial intelligence and case-based reasoning to deliver long-term integrity, level of service, safety and compliance of crucial assets.

Technology has been incorporated by critical asset operators for many years, but the potential for disruptive digital technologies to solve major asset management challenges is just beginning to be realised. Using digital technology, it’s now possible to capture the most important information related to asset condition and create smart solutions to drive an organisation's asset management program and asset investment decisions and priorities.

As critical infrastructures transform into ‘smart and digital assets’, there are three elements that are key to a building a smart asset management program: data, people and technology.

Data is the life blood of smart solutions. The challenge is in using data as part of a methodology that reflects the way people actually learn. The intuitive design of smart solutions allows them to be adopted naturally by operators, resulting in changes of behaviour that are lasting.

The transformation from a traditional asset management program to a ‘smart’ program does not just happen. Success depends on the quality of the decisions that are made and the way these decisions are executed. What is needed to be successful? What can be learned from early adopters? Smart and competent people are required to drive this transformation.

The role of technology, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and case-based reasoning comes in to play as organizations recognize the need to understand the condition of their asset based as the starting point for forward planning of maintenance and renewals. Understanding the financial implications of maximizing the value of the asset base is becoming more and more important to an organization satisfying its business objectives in a climate of scarce financial and human resources. A case-based reasoning approach to asset management combines data, people, and technology in a way that breaks away from traditional methodologies and focuses on more humanistic, innovate thinking.

Classical knowledge or rule-based decision support systems draw conclusions by applying generalized rules, step-by-step, starting from scratch: a prescriptive asset management strategy. Case-based reasoning systems offer an alternative based on problem-solving performed by applying experience or remembering and historical performance of the asset considering the current condition as a base line.

This strategy focuses on how to exploit asset performance, instead of rules, in problem-solving, improving the performance of decision support systems related to the current condition of the asset.

The importance of Asset Management cannot be emphasised enough. As hordes of individuals worldwide leave green pastures in favour of concrete jungles, asset owners must double their efforts to ensure that their infrastructures can handle the weight.

This article is an adaptation of LinkedIn Pulse by former Principal – Asset Management, Aurecon, Abe Nezamian titled, “How smart are we in managing our critical infrastructures?” 

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