Long-term maintenance planning for increased efficiency in managing underground utilities
Aug 22, 2006
When utilities plan maintenance measures for network assets, they first have to decide which assets should be targeted. Nowadays these decisions are often still made from a vast empirical knowledge, accumulated in these utilities over decades. Apart from the fact that empirical-based decisions are often difficult to explain to non-technicians or economists, there is still the danger of missing an aspect due to the size of these networks. STATUS supports the planning process and the inherent decisions by providing an analytical framework, enhancing the planning process, giving long-term planning safety and continuity.
The starting point of each qualified analytical network assessment is an extensive analysis of the existing data as the accuracy and sig-nificance of the following assessment decisively depends on the completeness and consistency of the data taken as a basis.
The conventional systems for evaluating the present condition of net assets are only using limited information to determine the priority of maintenance action. For sewer networks in almost all cases the damage class of the worst single defect is taken, thus describing a locally limited condition. Those damage classes result from binary assessment logic, having strict class thresholds. STATUS uses fuzzy logic which results in soft class transitions rather than in strict class changes. New, innovative damage models are additionally used, reflecting the real situation far better than the common systems. This is achieved by including all relevant data available into the damage models.
For advanced and long-term maintenance planning it is necessary to forecast the devel-opment of the asset condition and substance into the future, thus determining the aging process of these assets. This ensures security in planning and gives the possibility of identi-fying assets, which are low priority at present but are likely to enter critical states very fast.
The forecast of the future development of net assets with STATUS is the basis for the analysis of effectiveness maintenance deci-sions. Various key factors like budget size, burst rate, leakage rate, failure risk, ecologic and hydraulic requirements as well as further network-specific limiting conditions allow the definition and analysis of individual maintenance strategies answering questions like the budget needed to hold/ reach a certain service level or how tariffs are affected by defined strategies. Predicting and controlling rehabilitation costs, asset value, failure risks in advance is the main benefit from strategies as well as the information of how key factors of the utility will change by doing nothing or to little. The next figures illustrate consequences of different maintenance strategies, e.g. Figure 8 showing the changes in asset value.
In summary, with STATUS it is possible to balance utility needs like operating costs, asset values, operating stability and service level with the public target of minimizing risk and the customers’ needs of tariff and service stability. STATUS is fulfilling the request of German authorities and customers and has been widely used and approved due to its transparent and reproducible results and the significant benefit in time and costs.
This article was published with kind permission of Trenchless Australasia.
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