In this blog post we will direct our lens at managing physical assets. Let’s begin with a definition of an asset:
An asset is an organic or inorganic resource with an economic value. That can include a bridge or building, crate of widgets or piece of fruit. Person or people
When we talk about physical assets we are referring to both organic and inorganic resources. All organizations have assets. Local governments manage buildings, parks, water systems. Retailers have produce. Warehouses store stock. All organizations have staff, that makes us assets just like our elements of focus while at work.
Asset management has been historically associated with ‘things we own’. That most often meant the likes of buildings and bridges. With the emergence of new technology, the world of asset management was expanded. Today that means most of the elements which form the base of any organization.
4 Things You Must Know About GIS Asset Management
It is important to understand the 4 key areas which are the cornerstones of asset management, and the new technologies which provide ways to better manage those assets.
Let’s consider the mission statement of Salt Lake City Public Utilities:
Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities is committed to serving our customers and protecting our environment by delivering high-quality drinking water, managing flood control and storm water, collecting and treating wastewater to standards that exceed EPA regulations, and maintaining and enhancing public street lighting.
Water and lighting systems are their focus in the county of Salt Lake. They serve a population of 1 million people. Managing the many assets which make up the water and lighting systems for this many people is a challenging task. So what makes up the base of their asset management system: 3 core elements:
Public utilities maintain high-quality drinking water with a complex water system made up of water lines, valves, pumps etc. These need to be regularly inspected to ensure they are in good working order. That was once a manual process with inspectors relying on paper forms to report on individual inspections. Mobile technology and new mobile inspection apps have automated this process. Today inspectors can complete their work faster and more accurately than ever before.They can also upload their inspections directly into a central data storage areas giving managers easy access to their reporting.
ii) Work Orders
Imagine a problem was found by an inspector with a particular water valve. Using his mobile inspection app he reports on the problem through the app. A manager receives notification of the problem. He quickly generates a work order in a work order web application. The work order is again stored in the central data storage system, and the work order is sent to a member of the maintenance staff to fix the problem.
iii) Maintenance reporting
A member of the maintenance staff receives notification of a work order related to the water valve issue. He uses a mobile maintenance reporting app to get routing information on getting to the valve. Completes his work, then reports through the same mobile app the work completed. Again this is stored in the central data storage system, giving managers immediate access to the maintenance report.
New technology now allows a seamless, automated process from inspections to work orders to maintenance. Dramatically improving the time from reporting and problem to resolution of the issue.
Today we are increasingly moving into a world of sensors. SCADA, an old technology, is being updated. New low cost sensors are being attached to fixed assets to report on current state. They provide ongoing asset monitoring and alerts if certain thresholds are crossed eg. asset temperature has risen to a dangerously high level. Real-time monitoring of fixed assets is now possible through simple, focused asset monitoring apps.
Social media is a relatively new phenomena. Real-time information sharing. It is now possible to use social media to monitor assets and issues. New social media apps have been built to filter, monitor and map reported issues: flooding, water leaks, weather damage. This can be an important source of low cost real-time data for many organizations.
How do you track your moving assets? That might be employees, items being moved in and out of a warehouse, moving item assembly, produce being transported across country. New technology using RFID, Bluetooth, wireless and GPS, which work both indoor and outdoors, are enabling easy asset tracking. Asset tracking apps are being created which allow an organization to see in real-time the actual movement of an asset, and get in-depth information on that asset movement such as how long and item was in one location.
3D is now emerging as an important technology in the asset planning process. Imagine an engineering company wishing to show a client how a newly planned bridge will look. They take they client on-site and load an asset planning app on their iPad. The app shows in 3D the bridge overlaid on a 3D map of the site. The client can view the bridge from any angle and find out more about the different elements which make up the bridge by simply tapping on the 3D image in the app.
The management of assets is being transformed by new technology. Today that means better management of infrastructure, produce and people. As a company we are building focused solutions in each of the key areas discussed in this blog post. Contact us for more information on 801.410.2532.