By Jeff Sanford, CH2M HILL Director of Consulting Services

This post is one of an ongoing series of Access Water posts about asset management best practices. Read the first few and stay tuned for more asset management insights over the coming weeks.

McGraw-Hill Construction’s recently released study of asset management practices of US and Canadian water utilities, a CH2M HILL-sponsored research project, examined the extent to which water utilities have adopted 14 leading asset management practices, and which of these practices are of most value to implementers. Based on the responses of 451 water utilities to the online survey, condition assessment was found to be the most effective of these 14 practices.

Detailed condition assessments provide five significant benefits:

— Identification of specific deficiencies in equipment assessed

— Identification of specific maintenance steps that may be taken to increase asset life and reduce likelihood of failure

— Data for prioritizing the allocation of resources to maintenance and capital investments

— Establishment of repeatable processes that can be applied broadly

— Over time, through repeated assessments, the accumulation of data to build asset decay curves

Condition assessments provide valuable information for estimating the risk that an asset will fail and the consequences if it does. Because conducting a condition assessment can be expensive, and in some cases may damage the asset, care should be taken regarding when and how these assessments are conducted. Newer assets, with low risk and consequence of failure, generally do not require anything more than collection and analysis of data on corrective maintenance performed (to identify trends and emerging problems), and (if possible) monitoring of asset performance via a SCADA system. Critical assets—those where failure may cause extended and/or widespread customer service disruption, damage to property or the environment, etc.—generally require more proactive on-site condition assessment, including application of more advanced condition assessment techniques, such as vibration analysis (for plant equipment), ultrasonic thickness measurement and pressure testing (for pipes), etc.

CH2M HILL has developed a propriety tool, the Asset Condition Evaluation Systems (ACES), to assess the condition of clients’ assets, develop a “risk score” for each asset, and generate an optimal multi-year maintenance and capital improvement plan. CH2M HILL has applied the ACES tool at 46 of the 200 water and wastewater plants it operates on behalf of local utilities in the US, and has used the tool at various manufacturing plants as well. Use of the tool has given plant operators data and analytics to create fact-based maintenance and capital improvement strategies, and to demonstrate to plant owners that CH2M HILL is utilizing best practices to care for the assets they have entrusted us with. Exposure to ACES also provides valuable training for maintenance and operations staff, teaching them to think strategically, using data, about where they spend their time and resources.

To learn more about how condition assessment best practices are being applied by CH2M HILL clients, check out this presentation, or send us an email.

Jeff Sanford is a Director of Consulting Services with over 20 years experience in maintaining water and wastewater facilities including collection and distribution systems. He is currently leading the condition assessment processes within CH2M HILL on a global level.  Jeff is a Certified Maintenance Reliability Professional as recognized by the Society for Maintenance Reliability Professionals. While working as a Director of Consulting Services, Jeff developed and implemented the Asset Condition Evaluation System for over 20 large facilities. Jeff has also assisted with the adaptation of the asset condition process to business process assessments, Jeff has completed many risk based condition assessment projects for both existing CH2M HILL projects and outside customers. These projects have ranged from 200 hundred to two thousand assets in both water and wastewater systems. Mr. Sanford also leads reliability efforts within CH2M HILL.