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Infrastructure assets end of life-cycle

September 28, 2015

OverpassAs we are all well aware, after many years of capital investment in our infrastructure in the mid-1900s, our assets in transportation, water treatment, and electric transmission are reaching their end of life-cycle. In recent years, the Skagit bridge collapse in Washington, the water pipe burst at UCLA and the Metrodome roof collapse in Minneapolis serve as just a few examples of American infrastructure in continuing disrepair. Federal appropriations have been shrinking, state and local funds continue to be inadequate and infrastructure managers are being asked to do more with less.

What can be brought to bear from the International Infrastructure Asset Management market to potentially help deal with this issue? One area of interest lies in the Institute of Asset Management’s ISO 55000 suite of international standards that was released in January 2014 and aims to provide “a management framework for the coordinated activity of an organization to realize value from its assets in order to support the delivery of its strategic plan and objectives.” In addition, the focus is placed on “strategic” asset management within the standard, placing a focus on optimization and prioritizing assets for repair and replacement based on a combination of condition, risk and performance metrics.

Some of the key elements of the standard encourage us to improve in the following ways:

  • Development of a clear and concise asset management policy, strategy and approach to strategic planning
  • Defining levels of service and linking these to interventions and desired outcomes
  • Evidence of proactive external stakeholder engagement and management
  • Integrating outsourced activities with the asset management system;
  • Implementing strategic and asset risk management and demonstrating its use in influencing asset management decision making
  • Business case development and integrated investment planning over multiple time horizons
  • Whole-life costing and governance

Sure, this doesn’t say how we are going to fund the needed maintenance activities, but it does specify a way for us to think about what comes first when going about those activities. It is anticipated that standards such as these have much to offer on how we maintain our infrastructure in the future and we should pay attention to see what can be applied from other international success stories moving forward.