It’s becoming increasingly important that water and wastewater utilities develop asset management plans to help them effectively prioritize the renewal and replacement of aging underground water and sewer infrastructure networks. While some utilities may be well-suited to conduct asset management planning in-house, others may evaluate the support of a consulting engineer firm.
An engineering firm can offer consulting services to help these utilities adapt all their processes and ultimately support improved asset management planning.
Utility asset management comes with a broad spectrum of challenges. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at 7 common challenges surrounding water infrastructure and how a consulting firm can help solve them.
1. Reactive Maintenance
There’s no denying that deteriorating wet infrastructure is a persistent problem all over the globe. Complex deterioration factors such as age, pipe material, location, and demand can accelerate the failure likelihood of a pipe, and ultimately lead to costly reactive maintenance. This is true for both major failures – like a water main break – or ongoing service failures such as sewer overflows and prolonging pipe leaks.
An engineering or consulting firm can use likelihood of failure (LOF) and consequence of failure (COF) modeling to understand the risks in their clients’ systems. This helps them to provide prioritized projects plans that are relevant to both long term capital planning as well as ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) activities.
2. High Inflow, Infiltration and Overflows
As underground pipe assets deteriorate, they become more susceptible to inflow and infiltration (I/I). This can lead to additional stress on network capacity and ultimately a higher likelihood of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) or combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Uncontrollable frequency and volume of SSOs/CSOs leave utilities vulnerable to consent orders.
This is another opportunity for a supporting firm to work with a client and offer services that will...
1. Pinpoint sources of I/I
2. Understand I/I volume and impact on overflows
3. Set a plan to resolve I/I and reduce overflow frequency.
Any utility that has had issues with controlling overflows can benefit from a partner who knows how to find, prioritize, and address I/I.
3. High Water Leakage, Pipe Breaks, and Other Asset Failures
When it comes to water supply networks, non-revenue water (NRW) is another key challenge that may call for the support of a local engineering firm. NRW is water lost not only to major breaks, but prolonged leaks, unauthorized consumption, and other factors.
Moreover, water loss is a huge problem because, in addition to losing water, organizations are also losing money. With risk-based analysis, consulting firms can help water utilities develop, implement, and analyze NRW reduction programs to address a variety of infrastructure repairs and replacements, as well as water supply issues.
4. Project Prioritization
Minor failures in the water system may go undetected for months or years and can increase the likelihood of failure, leading to costly reactive maintenance. To avoid risk, water utilities need to be able to react ahead of time to repair and replace any maintenance issues before they become more severe and therefore costly. Not using a proper asset management system to prioritize maintenance of the pipes systems and overall infrastructure, could result constant reactive maintenance and lower service levels – both of which are unfriendly to utility operations and budgets.
With the help of innovative software and advanced tools, engineering or consulting firms can analyze risk at the pipe level and combine hydraulically connected areas into prioritized projects. This provides a clear, project-level roadmap that can help utilities with repair and replacement plans through a system such as InfoAsset Planner.
5. Disconnected Data Systems
Utilities have systems of records, i.e. GIS, work order software and analytics that are constantly needing to be tracked and managed and can be very challenging to keep up with. Using InfoAsset Planner, engineering firms can help water and wastewater utilities with day-to-day systems of records by consolidating current and historical data, helping them to mitigate risks and allow for more efficient asset management overall.
It’s imperative that utilities monitor the service levels and efficiency of their water/wastewater systems regularly, and a connected data ecosystem will only help to serve that mission.
6. Lost Value from Inspection Data
Data from CCTV surveys and other methods of pipe inspection methods are critical to understanding infrastructure condition. However, just because condition assessments are conducted, doesn’t always mean that the historical data is put to maximum use.
Using InfoAsset software, firms can help utilities store, manage and analyze information about network assets including surveys and repairs in one place. They can provide an easy to view map, see exactly where there are problem hot spots, and create work orders and tasks. This allows clients to understand the physical characteristics and life history of incidents and customer complaints. Ultimately it provides better connectivity between assets, inspections and recorded surveys.
Looking to help your clients improve their bottom lines with innovative asset management engineering services?
With Innovyze InfoAsset, engineering firms and consultancies can attract and retain more clients by offering unique solutions to the challenges we’ve discussed above and helping them manage their impact on the world.