Lani Good, P.E., is an Asset Management Practice Leader. During her 5 years at West Yost Associates, she has specialized in Utility Asset Management. Her organization exclusively focuses on water, wastewater, and stormwater systems to ensure longevity for typical water infrastructure assets – pipes, pumps, storage and treatment plants.
Lani understands the pain points many of her clients face and works with determination to facilitate their success in overcoming the obstacles of complex water system management. According to Lani, “Our mission is to help our clients develop effective strategies for managing assets […] our goal is to provide integrated approaches that match each client’s unique needs”. So what challenges are Lani and her team at West Yost trying to resolve? Since they manage water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, West Yost’s client base is primarily made up of municipal cities, counties, and local and regional agencies. Their challenges can range from lack of funding and agreement on risk-prioritization, to data sets that are sprawling and unorganized in different locations, formats, and ownership. To help their clients address these issues, Lani and her team of experts use Innovyze’s InfoAsset Planner to develop Asset Management Plans (AMPs) that are founded on data-driven risk assessment, and thus empower more efficient administration of rehabilitation and repair initiatives for water infrastructure assets - saving their clients both time and money.
Operating a complex water infrastructure system requires collaboration and typically involves multiple stakeholders. Decision-making can become difficult when each respective team or department is tasked with advocating for the projects that fall under their responsibility. As Lani puts it, “it’s really quiter output. This, in turn, makes it easy to determine which infrastructure assets need to be rehabilitated or repaired. In most cases, “everyone agrees with the low-risk pipelines. It’s also easy on the high-risk pipes. But when you start to get into the middle and start to decide where those lines are drawn, it can be difficult,” Lani stated. However, by introducing data-driven risk assessment in the form of Likelihood of Failure (LOF) combined with Consequence of Failure (COF) analysis into the decision-making process, priorities become clearer and logically rationalized. Stakeholders are engaged in the process and enabled to make tough decisions in an objective manner to best manage their water assets.
The sheer amount of data that needs to be compiled for AMP analysis can be both intimidating and overwhelming. Data sources that are sprawled between multiple platforms and formats can be difficult to consolidate and manage. As Lani describes, “CCTV data is tough because it can come from lots of different platforms. One agency might use four different types of viewer software applications […] sometimes they hire contractors and they have a set of CDs sitting on their desk with all their CCTV data in it.” Spreadsheets, while meant enhance data analysis, sometimes make the job more difficult. Expansive worksheets, varying formulas, and inconsistent procedures make what should be a standardized process into a laborious one for engineers who need to pick up where others left off. What if the spreadsheet developer is out sick? Or leaves the company? Multiple hours, even days, could be wasted trying to reconstruct their methodology. “For us, [InfoAsset Planner] was really a no brainer, because any of those spreadsheets that we create could have 45 tabs of information on them.” But by using InfoAsset Planner, all this data is consolidated and usable within a single platform.
As Lani acknowledges, “The biggest challenge is the money – right? It’s finding funding.” The combination of population growth, aging infrastructure, and inclement weather makes it difficult for utilities to identify which assets need to be serviced, and when. She goes on to explain, “if we had all the money in the world we wouldn’t have to worry about which assets we’re replacing, and in which order. But since we have to stretch those public funds, we really have to target where the money is needed most.” And that’s the key to a successful AMP, a laser-focused risk assessment that enables the most efficient use of resources, in the form of both time and capital.
With InfoAsset Planner, the Asset Management experts at West Yost can both identify immediate needs for asset maintenance, and also set rehabilitation and replacement programs that look to the future. “We’re able to project long term funding needs for 5, 10 and even 15 years. And we’re ﬁnding that a lot of the public agencies are really finding that priceless”, Lani said.
According to Lani, what it all comes down to is empowering stakeholders to paint a picture -- one that is easily understandable and accurately depicts the state of water infrastructure assets. As a result, Capital Improvement Programs are leaner, and decision-makers can act conﬁdently to tackle the few projects that will have the biggest impact on system health and longevity. And for consulting firms, it elevates the work done by consultants to help them win more projects and better serve their clients.