Taking AIM at Asset Management

image description

Allison Blake

Water/Wastewater Treatment Engineer

The Trinity River Authority (TRA) of Texas has become a pioneer for asset management within the fence-line of their water and wastewater treatment facilities. TRA has dedicated significant resources to identifying facility assets at their treatment plants with a focus on first understanding their asset inventory, and then integrating the inventory into their GIS and management systems to facilitate an enhanced approach to managing assets and planning capital investment needs. This commitment to asset management has further improved the sustainability of their infrastructure and allows TRA the ability to better serve their customer cities.

In the last five years, TRA has initiated two major projects to implement a system-wide asset management program through data collection of linear assets within their Northern Region facilities and integration with their existing computerized maintenance management system (CMMS): the GIS Asset Based Inventory (GABI) project and the Asset Inventory and Management (AIM) project. These two projects stemmed from TRA’s strategic goals and asset management guidance manual.

With Freese and Nichols’ help, these projects integrated TRA’s existing CMMS with a new GIS map and geodatabase.

Much like many water and wastewater providers, TRA is challenged with dealing with critical workforce development needs, in particular capturing important institutional knowledge and educating new employees on existing facilities and assets. As experienced staff begin to retire or move on to other roles, determining the location of existing assets within the facilities can become a challenge, especially when those assets are decades old, and their installation pre-dates modern data gathering methods during construction. With multiple plant expansions and construction projects, it can be time-consuming for staff to determine which as-built contains the information needed on an asset. One of the major project goals was to capture the location and history of these existing assets. Other major project initiatives included selecting staff champions to encourage staff buy-in and understanding of the process, visualization and mapping of linear assets and work orders, building a more complete asset database and work-order system, and bolstering a process to implement new projects and assets into CMMS.

Following in Footsteps

TRA’s initial efforts in treatment facility asset management begin with the GABI project (2015-2018), which helped map a majority of assets at the Authority’s largest facility, the 162 MGD Central Regional Wastewater System (CRWS) Treatment Plant. The AIM project (2018-2020) then followed from the GABI initiative and provided similar mapping and inventory development of all of the other Northern Region water and wastewater facilities. This included their four remaining wastewater treatment plants and their one water treatment plant located in the Authority’s Northern Region. The GABI project set the baseline for implementing asset management projects and programs at their other facilities. As a result of these efforts, the AIM project hit the ground running with the foundation of asset management implementation already developed by TRA.

How it Works

The GIS map, geodatabase design and CMMS integration process were leveraged from the first project to create consistency both in methodology and documentation across the TRA organization.The database design was set-up to allow staff to see similar configurations across facilities and designed with drop-down menus for consistent naming conventions.This also allows for future data trending and analysis of asset information across systems. Within each facility, small customizations were made for unique facility processes or needs.

Collecting the Data

With the framework for the database design established, asset data was surveyed at each facility through a data collection app linked to survey equipment, which created efficiency and time savings. The surveyors and plant champions populated preliminary data and photos while in the field. Assets can then be viewed in maps and accurately located in the field. TRA also established specific methodologies and standards for the gathering of additional asset data in their plants during ongoing and future construction projects. By establishing this methodology to capture new constructed assets through data collection and surveying specifications, and deploying these as standard specifications for construction contractors, TRA was able to institutionalize the methodology to maintain a sustainable focus on future and existing assets.

By developing GIS maps with treatment plant asset data, TRA has a window into their asset information and can determine the status of the assets at their facilities. The GIS map and database then syncs to the CMMS system through the synchronization program established during the GABI project. Since TRA has established an existing baseline of linear assets in the facility, they are now able to track assets within their work order system.

Where do I start?

If you are interested in development of asset mapping and integration with your CMMS, the first step is to develop or review your asset management plan that aligns with the organization’s mission, goals and vision. Entities will need to get buy-in at all levels to establish the business requirements, vision and goals of the asset management program.  If your asset management program is focused first on data collection, then you can develop and determine the structure of the asset database and what information will be captured in the GIS mapping and what information will be in the CMMS.Then determine to what degree and how you want the mapping to integrate with the CMMS. After that, you can prioritize assets for surveying and data population.

Once you have your design and data collection plan, establish your process for collecting more existing assets and future assets and determine how you will maintain and utilize this new tool for managing your assets within your facilities.

If you would like help in the development and establishment of your asset management program for linear assets and water/wastewater treatment facilities, please contact Jessica Brown at jessica.brown@freese.com or Allison Blake at allison.blake@freese.com for more information.

image description

Allison Blake, PE, IAM, is a Water/Wastewater Treatment Engineer in Dallas.