With input from both public and private sectors (nationally and internationally), the NAMS Group NZ conducted intensive research of the world of managing infrastructure assets, leading to the development of guidelines for best practice asset management (AM). These guidelines are available in our five manuals, and are further supported through our training courses.
For those new to AM and to refresh those already involved, below we have provided some key definitions of this sector.
Why do we need infrastructure asset management?
All modern economies are underpinned by vast infrastructure of roads and other transport systems, water supply, waste disposal, energy, telecommunications, recreational networks and property. The infrastructure of a nation supports the fabric of modern living which is taken for granted until something fails or no longer provides the expected service.
Infrastructure represents a major investment which - in developed countries - has been built up progressively over the last 100 years or more. So the time and money invested alone are reason enough for applying the best asset management skills to ensure that infrastructure continues to provide sustainable and economic service.
Compelling reasons for the importance of best practice in national infrastructure:
- Infrastructure networks provide the platform for economic and social development
- Infrastructure and property assets increasingly meet recreational and other needs of the community
- Good quality infrastructure is the cornerstone of public health and safety
- Good quality infrastructure mitigates potential adverse environmental impacts of society
- Asset management practices advance the sustainability of infrastructure services
- Benchmarking condition and performance promotes innovation and efficiencies
What are Infrastructure Assets?
Infrastructure assets are stationary systems (or networks) that serve defined communities where the system as a whole is intended to be maintained indefinitely to a specified level of service by the continuing replacement and refurbishment of its components.
Typical infrastructure assets are found in:
- Transportation networks (roads, rail, ports, airports)
- Energy supply systems (gas/electricity/oil production, transmission and distribution)
- Parks and recreation facilities
- Water utilities (water supply, waste water and storm water systems)
- Flood protection and land drainage systems
- Solid waste facilities
- Educational and health sector facilities
- Libraries, administration, and other community facilities
- Manufacturing and process plants
- Telecommunication networks
One of the most important features of infrastructure networks is the degree of inter-dependency, not only within a particular asset network, but also from one network to another. The failure of one component within a network may undermine the ability of other networks to perform (e.g. a water main burst may disrupt traffic on a street).
What is Infrastructure Asset Management?
The goal of infrastructure asset management is to meet a required level of service, in the most cost effective manner, through the management of assets for present and future customers.
The key elements of infrastructure asset management are:
- Taking a lifecycle approach
- Developing cost-effective management strategies for the long-term
- Providing a defined level of service and monitoring performance
- Understanding and meeting the impact of growth through demand management and infrastructure investment
- Managing risks associated with asset failures
- Sustainable use of physical resources
- Continuous improvement in asset management practices
A formal approach to the management of infrastructure assets is essential in order to provide services in the most cost-effective manner, and to demonstrate this to customers, investors and other stakeholders.