So, I am a “car guy”. I recently purchased a new sports car, the most expensive car yet in a series of many cars over my driving life. While I was impressed with the performance, quality, and purchase price, my interest didn’t stop there. I wanted to know what is the on-going maintenance schedule and costs to assure the vehicle will last as long as possible
There are a couple of approaches you can take with a car. You can pay for your car and then drive it until it breaks, or you can put oil in it and schedule regular maintenance checks. The latter approach will cost you more in the short term but at the end of the day the car will last longer and should cost you less money.
Any organization which is responsible for infrastructure, should take serious their stewardship responsibilities for the long-term sustainability of publicly owned assets. While there is a growing awareness of the infrastructure deficit we face in North America, there continues to be a resistance and ambivalence to the subject. Asset management is a process that puts some structure and rigor around managing publicly owned infrastructure and the services it delivers. The process provides the information for local government to develop a strategy that considers realistic life-cycle projections, replacement costs, and risk analysis to allow for long term organization-wide planning.
An asset management system provides the resiliency required in order to apply informed decisions relating to major capital investment, giving consideration to stakeholder interests, economic conditions and existing asset conditions. It helps to answer, what do we want, what do we have, what do we need and when.
An AMS can be developed over time as a three-phase approach. Phase 1 would include the creation of an asset management policy and framework. These resources will provide a holistic foundation for preparing Asset Management Plans for community water, wastewater, stormwater, road, and community building and facility assets.
Phase 2 would focus on the development of the AMS strategy and financial planning to align with the long-term capital planning process of an organization. This phase would also involve scoping of an Asset Information System and the completion of the specific Asset Management Plans.
Phase 3 would involve finalizing key tools and resources for implementing the AMS over the long term. These would include an Asset Management Handbook, Asset Information System and a Community Awareness Strategy.
Having a good Asset Management System in place will help allocate resources between asset classes based on priorities defined by your community strategic plan and asset management policy. Simply it will help you determine whether a road repair is more critical over a mechanical replacement in one of the City facilities.
There are numerous resources to help an organization thru the process APWA has an Asset Management Task Force which has been researching the topic over the last year. They are researching and developing an asset management road map to provide members an easily understood method to follow in developing their asset management system.
While the concept of know what you are buying, understanding and budgeting the long term maintenance costs; and undertaking the ongoing maintenance may seem simplistic, following these key steps whether you are owning a sports car of responsible for municipal infrastructure, assures many years of happy motoring!
Director of Public Works & Engineering City of Victoria