June 1, 2018 – It’s no secret that technology moves fast. That’s why OverIT has partnered with DTS, a leader in asset management, Geographic Information Systems, and transportation planning.
Headquartered in Orlando, DTS specializes in creating solutions to help clients automate their worlds, reduce their workload, and organize their data through customized technology. DTS staff understands technology like no other firm. Through the years they have built an interdisciplinary staff who are experts in their fields and cross trained for responsiveness and adaptability.
By integrating DTS expertise with our Space 1 AR solution, we will bring together the digital geospatial world and 3D virtual holographic images. This space-age technology will allow field workers the ability to complete maintenance work, repairs, and more with the assistance of a virtual assistant; screencaps and step-by-step instructions are displayed alongside their “real” equipment and operations. Kryptonian-like vision allows users to “see” hidden building specs, such as water lines, pipes, and electrical components, normally invisible to the naked eye. All of this means more efficient and accurate work with fewer errors. If you still don’t think the solution will apply to your organization, perhaps it’s time to start thinking outside the box…
Space 1: An Augmented Reality product, a powerful solution, easily accessible to different kinds of businesses:
Applicable to all industries and companies of all sizes
A sound and scalable investment with minimum deployment and adoption burden
Flexible configuration settings
Works offline and syncs without compromising data
Powerful integration with DTS’s VUEWorks® and other industry leading third party systems
Intuitive: it’s easy to use and manage
Multi-device, multi mobile platform: already available on HoloLens, ODG, RealWear, EPSON Moverio, Android and iOS Tablets, and compatible with devices that will be launched on the market in the following months
Each April, children from across the US tag along with their parents for “freebie” day off from the stresses of daily school life. For one fleeting day, assessment tests and homework take a backseat to a day at work with mom or dad. While not every company embraces this tradition, I am fortunate enough to work for a company that values both family and education.
Creating a “lesson plan” with meaning for varied ages of Pre-K and elementary schoolers can be a challenge, so I draw from my younger years as a preschool teacher and mom of four. This year, we selected an Earth Day theme and incorporated some STEM activities. Each activity helped personalize some of the aspects of Asset Management.
We started off the morning with a scavenger hunt for assets around the nearby Town Park. Knowing what a storm drain looks like and does would come into play a bit later on in our day. It’s important to include some outdoor time (especially after a breakfast of juice and donuts!) to get some of the wiggles out before heading back into the office to learn about important things.
Collecting assets is a big part of what the DTS Mobile Asset Collection does. One type of asset collected and managed within VUEWorks are bridges. Sounds like an excuse for an educational video on bridge building… time for some STEM activities! After learning about the different types of bridges, the little engineers put their new knowledge to work with some craft sticks and play-doh.
Triangle Truss bridges proved to be the most sturdy, with the available building supplies. Since our bridges were constructed on a man-made body of “water”, it was important to go over the water cycle, storm water, and how it impacts our environment. A fun water themed snack and a short video from Freddy the Fish led to the creation of our very own ecosystem terrariums.
Since horticulture can be a tricky business for little green thumbs, we used succulents, which are famously low-maintenance. A layered foundation of sand, various sizes of rocks, moss, and potting soil recreates a natural drainage system for the minimal watering that is required (about once per month). And because no kids craft is complete without some form of dragon or fairy, we added a few for good measure.
Following lunch with the parents, the kids presented their projects and some of the things we had learned. Then, we settled in for an afternoon showing of Wall-E and some popcorn. While taking our kids to work doesn’t bring in a million-dollar deal, it felt like a million-dollar day. Friends were made, laughs were had, food was enjoyed and knowledge was shared. Kind of a “win-win”, if you ask me!
Thanks to our DTS management team that continues to support the event, and to our awesome staff for sharing their super cool kids!
Bridging the gap to an unwavering Asset Management Solution
Before a bridge is built and trusted for safe passage, it is a pile of raw materials – steel beams, timber, joint materials and stone. Armed with blueprints and a team of skilled craftsmen who network, troubleshoot and build, an architect brings a well-orchestrated plan to fruition. The team’s hard work and dedication yields, in the end, a majestic structure that serves an integral function. An agency’s assets are nothing more, initially, than unrealized potential – raw materials waiting to be built.
Embarking into the world of asset management requires careful thought and planning. When an agency maintains its asset data without an asset management software, it is doing so in a way that is ultimately counterproductive, costing the agency more money in the long run. Recognizing there is a need to make the financial leap and invest in a comprehensive system to manage all assets typically is not an overnight process for most organizations. Whatever assets are being maintained, there are multiple aspects to consider when selecting a solution.
The goal of asset management is really about taking care of what you already have. It’s focused on getting the most out of your assets at the lowest cost to the system. So, how do you get the most out of an asset management system and maximize your return on investment (ROI)? The answer might be easier than you think. To find the answer, we can look to a three-legged stool as the symbolism for true asset management.
A three-legged stool is a useful tool when someone wants something to sit on. Three strong legs connected to a circular seat at the top combine to provide a sturdy surface for one to sit on. However, this same three-legged stool is not as sturdy, nor as useful, if it is missing any one or more of the legs used to support it. Instead, it becomes unstable and easy to tip over because it lacks the structural integrity to stay upright. Asset management as a process is like the three-legged stool; it is strong with all three legs, but not effective without any one leg missing. Each of the three legs on the asset management stool represents something equally important to ensure the stool will not fall over.
Key areas are:
Resources (Financial and Staffing)
Asset management requires clear vision by those in leadership who, in turn, are supported by goals. True asset management cannot be implemented without leadership support. Furthermore, gaining this necessary leadership buy-in and endorsement for an asset management system should follow the agency’s vision, goals and mission statements. Those in leadership should understand that data itself is an asset and should be viewed as such. Data that is protected and governed correctly allows agencies to make better, smarter decisions. So where does the vision begin and how are the goals achieved?
Often, one of the first approaches an agency should take in the quest to implementing a true asset management system is to start at the planning stage by developing an asset management plan. In the asset management plan, agency leadership can identify and document a blueprint for the asset management system. In this plan, the purpose and need, and the identification of asset types, data structure and workflows are documented comprising a roadmap for how best to govern and manage asset data.
By knowing the asset data “as-is” architecture of the agency, the vision and goals can help to identify the path to reach the “to-be” horizon asset management framework. The technology gap that may exist between the “as-is” and to-be” configurations should be noted in the asset management plan and should include the pros and cons for meeting the technology requirements of the desired asset management system.
Coinciding with the asset management plan concept is identifying the right technology requirements for which the asset management system will interface. Technology is ever-changing. Choosing the right asset management system, with an information technology (IT) stack that is compatible with the agency’s current IT infrastructure and vision, is of critical importance.
Choosing a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) asset management system like VUEWorks® that is web-based, should spark other questions. Is the program cloud-based access capable or not? Is it reporting capable? What are the vendor’s abilities to implement, train and support the customer? Remember, asset management is primarily about getting the most out of asset data at the lowest cost to the system.
Not all asset management systems are equal. Some interface with GIS, and some do not. Some allow for budget and life-cycle analysis and maintenance of asset data and some do not. Some allow for the ability to manage risk and the consequence of assets failing, and others do not. Some systems allow for managing non-spatial assets, and others do not. Picking an asset management system that meets all the technology requirements as stated in the asset management plan to meet the future needs of the agency is essential.
Resources (Financial and Staffing)
Equally important as part of the asset management plan is the identification of financial budgeting of the asset management system and the staff resources necessary to support it. The selected asset management solution should be expansive, yet simple enough to make it easy for its staff to be able to learn, adapt and maintain asset data once the COTS system is implemented. Likewise, setting up an asset management system without the financial backing for agency staffing and long-term software maintenance and support is counter-productive and sets up for failure before implementation concludes.
Not all asset management systems are equal. VUEWorks is the blueprint that offers customers a complete solution for managing any data asset from a “cradle-to-grave” management perspective. Choosing the right asset management system is one that should involve thorough planning, thought and leadership endorsement for financial and resource backing. Proper asset management planning should include identifying the technology requirements that align with the agency vision and goals of the system, appropriate technology requirements and the adequate financial and staffing resources to support the system.
The system should also be scalable and configurable to meet “as-is” existing departmental and organizational workflows. Just the three-legged stool example, the asset management system is sturdy, sustainable and relevant. Missing any of the three critical elements to asset management success will result in counterproductive outcomes.
On the other hand, careful planning ensures a positive return on investment (ROI), which yields the following outcomes:
Improving decisions about need for asset rehabilitation, repair and replacement
Meeting the demands of the public and increased safety
Allowing life-cycle budgeting capabilities for analyzing “what if” scenarios
Meeting regulatory requirements
Improving and maintaining asset security
Minimizing overall operations and capital improvement costs
Is your organization looking for a fully comprehensive asset management solution that offers a solid return on investment?
Contact Douglas Lynch, GISP for more information on how VUEWorks can help manage your world: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s face it: implementing an enterprise-level infrastructure management system in an organization takes a capital investment in software, hardware, services and personnel. The individuals who ultimately make the decision to invest an organization’s limited resources into technologies and re-engineering existing processes must also calculate and justify the Return on Investment (ROI).
In the financial and business worlds, determining ROI in terms of dollars and cents can be a pretty straightforward thing to qualify and quantify. It is much more difficult when it comes to ROI on an investment in tangible technology and intangible processes. It is especially tricky when these are not used to generate revenue or increase net profits.
Enterprise infrastructure management systems (EIMs) may consist of one or more application solutions for work and resources management, asset management, plan development and GIS mapping of infrastructure. This can make it challenging to calculate a Return on Investment, and it often requires a different approach.
Return on Investment is traditionally defined as a profitability measure of the financial gain or loss generated on a financial investment, relative to the amount of money invested. This is often represented by the following formula:
ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) X 100
In terms of government investment in management solutions, ROI is often used to evaluate the efficiency of a financial investment.
Engineering, Maintenance Operations and Public Works departments are not in the business of generating financial revenue and profits from their operations. The exception is enterprise fund agencies, which do generate revenue, but their main motivation is not financial profit. For this discussion, we will assume that they fall under the same category as a general fund operation.
Not all ROI is created equal
In traditional ROI calculations, this is often done in monetary units (i.e. US dollars, UK pounds, EU euros, etc.). Without a historical baseline to benchmark the performance of your investment, calculations aren’t as black and white.
Therefore, a new way of looking at ROI for investments in management solution technologies and services (like those provided by VUEWorks®) must be re-imagined and redefined.
Because traditional ROI is often used to evaluate the efficiency of a financial investment, we can start by shifting focus from the ‘financial investment’ portion of the formula to the ‘evaluate the efficiencies’ portion. This is a trend that public infrastructure agencies have been dealing with for the last five decades: doing more with less through efficiency gains in re-engineered processes. Through the use of evolving technologies, many agencies are now able manage data – that in turn helps manage their processes and limited resources in a more results-oriented and efficient manner.
If an agency can start answering questions like the following, they can start to qualify the benefits of their investment, providing a non-traditional form of ROI.
Some of these questions may include:
Are we doing more work per FTE (full-time equivalent) per day than prior to our investment?
Are we able to do more work with less, or the same amount of time and resources as before?
Are we seeing a shift from the amount of reactive work orders versus proactive preventative maintenance work orders we perform?
Is the number of requests for service we handle on a daily, weekly and monthly basis being brought to closure sooner?
Are we able to provide the right information in a timely manner from the new system than we were able to prior?
Are we touching, inspecting and maintaining more individual assets more frequently with the new system? Are we able to replace more critical traffic signs per year because of better data provided by the new system?
Is the system helping the agency comply with a mandatory regulation or reporting requirement?
A positive response to these and other similar questions is a clear indication that you are experiencing a positive Return On Investment. The difficult challenge then becomes converting efficiency gains into a monetary value.
Non-traditional forms of Return on Investment
While monetary value is the traditional measure of ROI, there are a number of alternate ways this can be quantified:
Better data for decision making and reporting
Migrating from reactive to proactive work, resource and asset management
Increased level of service
Timely regulatory compliance
Monetary savings realized through decision support tools
Because public agencies are asked to do more with fewer resources, it is important to simplify and measure variables. Operational resources used to design, build, manage and maintain infrastructure through its life-cycle can be broken down into two basic components: financial capital and human capital. Financial capital relates to the available funding and the products and services that funds can buy. Human capital relates to employees and the total (and finite) time they have individually and collectively to spend maintaining your infrastructure networks.
Time savings are easy to understand, easy to qualify and, in many instances, easy to quantify. As the old saying goes, “time is money”. Most non-traditional forms of ROI can ultimately by broken down to some form of time savings. And time can then be converted to a monetary value to help gauge your ROI.
If a new database system within a DOT allows me to produce an updated report with the press of a button, when in the past it took one person from each DOT District an hour a week to develop their portion of the report, an ROI can be calculated. If you have five (5) DOT districts and the average FTE creating the report costs $50/hour in wages and benefits, we can calculate the amount of time the new system saved and convert that into a monetary cost savings.
5 districts X 1 hour a week X 52 weeks = a time savings of 260 hours over a year. Multiply the 260 hours saved by the average FTE cost of $50/hour and you have an ROI on the system for the creation of just one report of $13,000 annually. If 50 statewide reports are produced weekly, the time savings is similar to the first report, and now there is an estimated annual ROI of $650,000 for just those 50 weekly reports.
Because most agencies do not have enough historical information to benchmark these calculations against, especially non-financial benchmarks, sometimes estimates need to be developed or assumed based on experience, gut feel or empirical evidence. For example, prior to having a new management system, you may not have tracked how many catch basins and culverts were cleaned annually (reactively and/or proactively) by all crews, and which ones you touched annually more than once. With the new system you may now have the data to know how many activities are occurring since the new system was implemented. In this case, you may have to go back and make some gut-feel estimates to qualify past efforts before you can quantify them in terms of time savings or ROI.
Better data – Not only does better and readily available data equate to a time ROI, but it can also equate to other types of benefits and efficiencies. For example, with the implementation of a management system like VUEWorks, you may start keeping an up-to-date traffic sign inventory. As part of that inventory, you may start tracking current conditions for all your traffic signs and using that data within VUEWorks to prioritize your annual sign replacement program. Through this more methodical approach, you may be able to evaluate your sign inventory and current conditions against traffic accident data to see where your needs for better signage may help reduce the number of accidents. This information may be two-fold: increasing public safety and reducing the amount of property damage caused by accidents. Through this approach, your investment in VUEWorks has provided the ability to identify and replace more signs when they need replacing in a proactive manner, which may in turn reduce the number of traffic accidents, saving both citizens and the public money through the reduction of traffic accidents. This all plays into ROI.
Migrating from reactive to proactive – It is well known that reactive maintenance takes more time, costs more money and sidetracks you from maintaining public infrastructure in a state of good repair (SGR). It has been well documented that it is cheaper to maintain an asset before you have problems than to react after a problem arises. It doesn’t make sense to replace an asset too soon, while it still has useful life and value left. It is equally inefficient to wait until an asset has failed, potentially creating issues with safety and level of service related to the infrastructure network. This often costs more to repair or replace than it would cost to maintain. Proactive asset management allows a reduction of the number of reactive incidents dealt with annually, thereby reducing the cost to maintain those assets in a state of good repair without impacting public safety or level of service (which has its own cost).
Increased levels of service – Driven by the human capital aspects of an operation, this can be one of the more challenging forms to quantify. If a sewer crew can increase the number of sanitary sewer lines it cleans annually and can use a maintenance management system to help identify those areas of the network that need to be cleaned more or less frequently, an agency can coordinate their efforts by understanding and aligning their big-picture needs with limited resources. This results in maintaining the right assets at the right time – before there is a problem in service. This in turn provides an overall increased level of service and can have a significant ROI in the areas of economic (not to be confused with financial), social and political ROIs.
Cleaning a sanitary sewer line in a commercial restaurant district more frequently may reduce the number of sewer blockages and/or sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) that cost businesses money and potentially lost revenue. Lost revenue has a negative impact on local sales tax dollars received by the local agency. Increased levels of service by ensuring that infrastructure networks are maintained in a state of good repair can provide a community an economic ROI.
Timely regulatory compliance – This includes (and is the result of) the prior four non-traditional forms of ROI. Additional benefits to timely compliance with regulations can be gained in a variety of ways. First, being in compliance with a federal or state regulation or mandate can help an agency avoid a financial penalty in certain cases. This is especially true when dealing with environmental regulations, where the US Environmental Protection Agency has the ability to assess and levy fines against a public agency if found out of compliance. It may also be determined that an agency isn’t doing enough to mitigate a particular reoccurring issue, such as sanitary sewer overflows (SSO). Timely regulatory compliance in the area of reporting accurate and complete data from an infrastructure management solution like VUEWorks can also help a local or state agency capture a larger portion of federal funding. State DOTs that have an accurate and up-to-date system that can generate on-demand HPMS reports for FHWA tend to find it easier to increase federal funding for roadway and bridge projects, since they can qualify and quantify the needs through accurate data.
Monetary savings realized through decision support tools – The concept and tools used for decision support were developed over the last 50 years by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a group of private sector engineering and technology firms.
Decision support tools, like VUEWorks’ Budget Forecasting module, allow an agency to model Capital Improvement Plans and Work Plans based on available budgets, potential activities and current conditions of an infrastructure. Users can target budget and asset condition levels as part of their model analysis.
Here, Performance Curves for like-performing assets are created in the management solution. Current asset inventories with age and condition ratings are then analyzed against an activity matrix (or a decision tree) to determine which assets should have which activities performed against them based on some decision support logic and where the asset falls on the Predictive Performance Curve.
The ability to prioritize which assets should receive attention and funding in the plan development process can help ensure that an organization is not spending limited funding on a low priority, low usage asset at the expense of a high priority asset that may have high usage or that carries a heavier risk if it fails (e.g. loss of sales tax revenue). This is the concept of Performance-based Risk Asset Management.
These predictive analysis tools allow you to create multiple plan scenarios so you can optimize your plans to get the right mix of budget dollars and conditional impacts on the infrastructure. This allows agencies to evaluate where they get the biggest bang for their investments. For example, if the total capital improvement budget is applied to fixing the worst road segments strictly on a worst-first basis, it may only increase the overall network condition rating by a few points. But if condition levels at or above a certain minimum level can simply be maintained, the lifespan of more assets can be extended, which saves money. This is especially apparent when performing a surface seal (preventative maintenance) versus totally reconstructing that same stretch of road.
Add to that the ability to prioritize assets based on other factors such as public safety or economic impact and you now have a powerful tool that can help you model out an even greater ROI. This applies to both the investment in the management solution as well as on the decisions you make.
For example, if we look at the pavement performance curve below, we can see that each tier of activities, from “Do Nothing” through “Reconstruction”, becomes increasingly more expensive per square yard as the maintenance for that asset is deferred. Let’s say the curve is used to consider the potential life-cycle cost of a newly constructed road segment with a 50-year useful design life. If nothing is done to the asset over the next 50 years, total reconstruction of the road segment is estimated to cost an average of $72/sq. yd. Under this scenario the road segment will have spent approximately 32 years of its 50-year design life below a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) of 70 (the industry standard for an acceptable condition that is still in a state of good repair). If, however, the goal is to maintain road segments at or above the minimum desired PCI condition level of 70 (to be compliant with SGR) four Preventative Maintenance activities can be performed over that 50-year life-cycle at a cost of $6/sq. yd. per event. ($24/sq. yd. over the life of the segment).
If the road segment is 200 feet long and 24 feet wide, or 533.33 square yards, the difference in cost of ownership for this one road segment based on the two approaches is $25,599.84. ((533.33 sq. yd. X $72/sq. yd.) – (533.33 sq. yd. X $24/sq. yd.) = $25,599.84). Now imagine if you had 200 miles of 24-foot pavement segments. Assuming everything else is equal for this example, you can see the difference in cost of ownership between the two methods now becomes $135,167,155.20 over the 50 years. (5,280 segments x $25,599.84 per segment). Now you are talking about real efficiency gains as well as a real financial Return on Investment. This is the power of automated decision support tools like VUEWorks Budget Forecasting.
An example of a Performance Curve for pavement.
As you can see, ROI is much more than a traditional financial return on your investment when speaking about software technologies. It encompasses gains in efficiencies and effectiveness of your operations. It increases the quality and condition of your infrastructure and your levels of service. And it impacts citizen perception. These are all worthy Returns on Investment!
Congrats! If you made it past the title, you just earned a virtual badge because you are likely wondering how you can save some time by telep … importing something into VUEWorks.
So, how is all of that clicking going for you? We get it. As designers of the VUEWorks application, we realize that building something out, designing a large template, or creating bulk assets can also require bulk clicking at times. That’s precisely why we have created a variety of channels throughout the application to import templates and data into VUEWorks. Aside from making life a little easier, importing into VUEWorks can save time too!
There are several locations within the application that allow something to be imported. Let’s take a quick look at how imports can be used.
Set up Users
Facilities, Containers, and Assets
Resources – Labor, Equipment, Inventory
Most of the time, importing anything into VUEWorks requires a data source to be set up on the server. This enables the application to connect to the data that needs to be imported. Data source formats will typically be Excel files but can also be set up as Access, SQL, Oracle, or ODBC connections. Excel files used as data sources should use the .xls file format. Excel files used for imports should have no spaces in the filename, tabs, and field/column headers. Facility templates are unique, however.
Importing a Facility Template
Importing Facility templates can be really handy. The ability to import Facility templates gives users the option to build out a template in the Sandbox environment, plan it out, test it, and update it, all before importing it into the Production environment (users with only a Production environment can simply make a copy).
The process is fairly straightforward and there is an import wizard that walks you through the process. Exporting/Importing Facility templates can be done via the Administer Facilities interface and – quick reminder – the user needs administrative access to Facilities to perform template exports/imports. Exported Facility templates are saved as .zip files and these should not be extracted/unpacked. The import process uses the .zip file.
Importing from a Data Source
Everything else needs a data source! VUEWorks is hungry, so feed it some food. Once you have the data formatted and ready to import, it just needs to be set up as a Data Source. This can be done by going to Manage Data Links within Administration. Click the Manage Data Sources button, then just click the plus button to add a new data source to your list. The interface will walk you through connecting to your file on the server.
Run Import, Run!
There are a variety of reasons to set up a data import. Perhaps you have a long list of new VUEWorks users that need to be entered into the system. Another reason could be that you want to create a large batch of Work Orders with some of the information pre-populated on the forms. All of these channels of importing data are for the sake of saving time. After the Data Source is established, fields just need to be mapped within the module so the information to be imported gets a new home.
After mapping the appropriate locations, the import can be run. Here are a few places to find import capabilities.
Within Setup Users, you can use the Import Manager to bring in a batch of users.
Facilities, along with their Containers and Assets, can be imported using the Import Manager in Administer Facilities.
Expand Work Orders and explore the Import Manager.
Resources – Labor, Equipment, Inventory – can be accessed by expanding Resource Manager and then selecting Import/Export.
Not seeing the import options or buttons? These need module codes that VUEWorks Support can assist with.
Keep things simple. When setting up the import template, fields should match or be very similar to the item that they would be mapped to in the application. This just makes field mapping easier.
Excel files used for imports should have no spaces in the filename, tabs, and field/column headers.
Need More Info?
Contacting your assigned Project Manager or VUEWorks Support will always get you the most immediate assistance: Please email email@example.com.