In many regions contractors and sub-contractors carry out essential work on behalf of water utilities to safely refurbish, repair, and maintain assets in the field. This increases the importance of an efficient workflow between all parties to share the status of their water, wastewater, and other assets (such as pipes, pumps, valves and drainage structures) with maintenance crews, consultants, and contractors so that everyone can access the same up-to-date information. Transferring and updating data from the field, can oftentimes take too long using manual or older systems and be outdated or inaccurate by the time it gets to the office, potentially causing major setbacks and confusion. We all know water utilities cannot afford to waste the time or money lost in setbacks so what is the resolution? How could these supply chain partners improve efficiency and ultimately save in costs?
To explore solutions Brad Fetter, Global VP of Marketing at Innovyze, interviewed Tony Andrews, the Product Manager for Asset Management and Solutions Engineer, Idris Nujjoo, to discuss the benefits of using Innovyze Asset Management products and how they can help contractors maximise productivity.
Q: How do Innovyze Asset Management solutions work together to capture assets?
A: Our Asset Management products are flexible and able to be combined to deliver solutions for the operational challenges faced by utilities. There is an enterprise asset management platform enabling the oversight of the entire asset stock, with a geospatial enablement, as well as the day-to-day running of the system built-in as standard functionality. A dedicated field data capture and business process mapping tool. Combine this with a powerful web viewer for data democratisation across the organisation. There is also a separate project-based rehab-prioritisation tool enabling decision makers and engineers’ access to how Capital Investment Planning and Operational & Management decisions are being made in a clear, transparent way.
Q: What are the top challenges that consultants and contractors face today when carrying out work for utilities?
A: Many challenges arise around day-to-day operations. These can include managing workflows for surveying or inspecting drainage assets, primarily manholes and pipes, the scheduling and capture of Manhole and CCTV Surveys, as well as follow up work emerging from what was observed during the survey. For pipes this could mean reactive maintenance in the form of pipe cleaning or remediation such as pipe repairs, either as an emergency or contributing to a rehabilitation strategy.
“I cannot stress how much easier and time-efficient it is to keep workflows in one integrated system. This reduces potential data loss, corruption, the introduction of errors, and the inability to flag or validate assets correctly when transferring data between different systems,” explains Tony Andrews, Product Manager for Asset Management at Innovyze. Geospatial and work order information is especially prone to these errors during the transfer of media and other files.
Q: How can we keep track of multiple field crews that are uploading work throughout the day?
A: Work orders assigned in the office are automatically sent out into the field using mobile communications - 3G, 4G or 5G networks. Work, once scheduled, automatically appears on a field crew’s tablet. Similarly, as work is carried out and recorded, then this information is also relayed back into the office, providing all stakeholders with a ‘single version of truth’, with near real-time oversight of what has been done, what work is underway, and what is outstanding.
Q: When you’re conducting a CCTV survey in the field is it possible to record video along with capturing essential information such as any observed defects and additional information?
A: Yes, that’s right, InfoAsset Mobile can interface with several well-known CCTV Video Hardware manufacturers, and whilst the video recording hardware is propagated down the pipe on its robotic tractor, it can record and save the video all whilst codifying any observations made (according to the regional standard), by the field engineer sitting in the van.
The CCTV video that is now recorded and annotated with observations in InfoAsset Mobile along with any other media such as photographs is automatically stored in a central location. Having this central database available to all stakeholders greatly enhances its value because we can ‘democratise’ this data. There are several ways to do this, as well as managing and manipulating the data in InfoAsset Manager, there is InfoAsset Online, a web viewer of the InfoAsset database allowing access to all the data in a read only manner. The videos can be streamed across to anyone with a browser if required. Cloud storage is also possible with built-in streaming for Manager and Online products.
Q: Metadata flagging, what is that, can we dive into this a little deeper?
A: Well, flagging is an integral concept incorporated in all Innovyze’s workgroup products, asset management included. It is where we add value to the data by giving it an extra layer of information, which is what is meant by metadata. This extra information in this context can be the source of the data, where did it come from. In this way, when others view the data, they can judge the quality and reliability of it.
Q: So, how do we ensure all assets are captured accurately?
A: Innovyze’s solution provides an integrated 360-degree office-to-field solution with built in validation and flagging, without the need for time consuming and error prone data exchange between systems.
Exchanging data, especially geospatial information is especially fraught. The need to ensure that no data loss occurs across systems with different projection and mapping parameters is tricky. Then throw in the need to ensure media such as video and photographs is always kept associated with a specific event file is very difficult indeed. Therefore, it is best practice and so important to simply keep workflows in one integrated system.
Q: Let us come back to the field. What if during the process of capturing and recording the video you observe a potential issue in the pipe, what happens then?
A: Whether you are using another CCTV Survey capture software or Innovyze’s integrated one and you come across a potential problem in the pipe such as the build-up of silt and other materials then you can easily initiate a pipe clean and record the fact in InfoAsset Mobile. Once you have unblocked or cleared the pipe, you can start a new survey to complete the process.
You can even go further if required and record the fact that a blockage was encountered, this gives all stakeholders visibility of blockages against the pipe asset and will influence the analysis for proactive maintenance and cleaning. Field engineers can easily initiate and record work progress as it is happening in real time, allowing stakeholders to have visibility of work completed or in progress as well as any outstanding tasks.
Q: Let me understand this correctly, all this functionality is supported to manage CCTV Surveys, Pipe Cleans and Blockages out of the box?
A: That is correct, not only that; just as pipe cleans are supported, so are pipe repairs in the same way. In addition, pipe repairs can also be scheduled from a CCTV Survey observation. What I mean by this is whilst reviewing a CCTV Survey back in the office, it is possible to raise a pipe repair work order against a specific observation. You can decide to patch, reline, or replace or even some other method. Now here is the smart part, the Pipe Repair maintains its association with the CCTV Survey where you made the discovery observation that a repair was needed. Once fixed a post-CCTV Survey is usually carried out. Once again, the association between it and the repair is maintained. In this manner an audit trail is generated from the CCTV Survey defect assessment, to the raising of a work order repair, as well as the post-CCTV Survey.
The association between the pre-survey, repair and post-survey is invaluable to those wanting to carry out analysis in the office as well as having the justification to prove why a decision was taken to fix a pipe in the first place.
Q: How is it helpful if utilities do not have their entire asset stock mapped and logged?
A: In the case of manhole surveys, for example, we can not only capture the physical attributes of the manhole structure but also record details of any incoming or outgoing pipes as well as their network connectivity. Essentially, we can map upstream manholes to identify where the pipes are coming from and what manholes downstream the outgoing pipe reaches. Both manholes and pipes can be mapped and this is incredibly powerful.
There are other built-in surveys which can be used to capture asset information to create and map assets, for all the supported objects in the software. Another real-life example is where clients capture the geometry of open water courses, or (detritus and debris) screen information. Once surveyed they can easily be turned in to assets once the data is reviewed and processed.
Q: What about reporting, how do I get KPI metrics on crew performance for example?
A: Bespoke KPI metrics can be measured and reported on in the system, giving an immediate insight into what is happening, what work has been carried out and what is outstanding. This gives a greater granularity of progress, together with the current spend and costs incurred, ensuring tighter overall control of operations.
Innovyze Asset Management tools offer reliable support for contractors in managing and storing invaluable data and information for utilities. Helping them to improve efficiency by reducing typical setbacks from data loss, corruption, errors, as well as the inability to flag or validate assets correctly when transferring data between different systems. The quality of a utilities asset stock is what, after all, gives them value. Operational assets enable utilities to provide their customers a service, protect the environment, whilst adhering to regulations and maintaining good public relations.
Maximise the service you offer today and visit: Innovyze Asset Management Solutions