Utility companies frequently struggle with balancing the need to invest in modern equipment and infrastructure with demands to minimize costs for customers. One of the most effective ways to avoid substantial rate hikes is to maximize the lifetime value of every existing asset (as well as new assets as investments are made).
To get the most output and lifetime value out of every asset, utilities turn to best practices in asset management to improve the usable lifespan and optimize performance for their most valuable investments. Some established regulatory standards, such as ISO 55000 provide valuable guidance for organizations in establishing and maintaining effective asset management systems. There are many best practices that apply across the various facets of the utility industry (water, electric, etc.) and across sectors. Below are a few key practices essential for maximizing lifetime asset value for utilities.
Establish Baselines and Ongoing Monitoring of Equipment Condition
Utilities that have a clear understanding of baseline metrics in relation to individual assets, as well as optimal levels, are better equipped to quickly assess the current state of any asset within the organization. These key metrics enable utilities to monitor trends and rapidly pinpoint areas of concern.
Outages and utility performance or service issues can be addressed more readily when it’s easy to pinpoint the source of problems, rather than relying solely on field service teams out to conduct in-field testing and analysis, for instance. Central monitoring means many service issues can be identified without delay, so that field service technicians can be sent directly to the source of a problem rather than on a scavenger hunt.
Categorize Assets by Priority Status or Criticality
When assets are categorized by criticality, or their importance to the company, you’re better able to quickly decide whether repair or replacement is in the best interest of the organization and its customers. Equipment that is essential for service delivery is prioritized higher than assets that aid performance but don’t directly hinder the delivery of services, for instance.
Coupled with key performance indicators (KPIs), the health of the infrastructure as a whole is readily assessed and resources can be allocated effectively to optimize systems and performance.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Traditional methodology generally involved the investment in assets and subsequently running them to failure. This reactive approach is no longer sufficient, as consumers today expect speed, quality, and consistency.
The run-to-failure approach almost always results in downtimes, which may take hours to days to rectify, resulting in a loss of consumer trust and reputation damage. For utilities operating in verticals with competition, loss of confidence in quality and service will ultimately send customers to alternative providers.
Prioritize Data Collection, and Always Rely on Data to Drive Decisions
Fortunately, run-to-failure is not the only option for today’s utility companies, thanks in part to the widespread availability of technology that facilitates data collection. No longer is it necessary to run field tests to determine how well a particular asset is performing or to test the results of placing an increased load on an individual asset or system.
When asset tags and barcode labels are coupled with sophisticated asset management software, the data gathered in the field can be used to simulate outcomes from a variety of changes, facilitating accurate projections to drive decision-making. Additionally, smart data collection provides the means to compare systems and assets in terms of performance and lifetime value, so when it is time to invest in new equipment, utilities are armed with critical knowledge that drives smarter investments.