Implementing Asset Management at Waternet: the Water Cycle Approach

Onderstaande tekst is een uitwerking van de Water Infrastructuur Conference 2016 georganiseerd door de American Water Works Association (AWWA). De conferentie was in Phoenix, Arizona (United States) 30 Oktober – 2 November 2016. 
09 oktober 2017
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In November 2010 a catastrophic failure almost occurred in the city of Amsterdam. Waternet was literally out of control after a report of possible failure with a big sewerage pressure pipe due to nearby construction works. Within only a few hours, control was taken over by the municipality’s incident control team. 

Boards of directors don’t like being out of control. Resulting in the birth of the waste water asset management department in 2012. The task was clear: implement asset management for both the sewerage and the waste water treatment departments. To start with an overview of potentially critical assets. 

Being the only water cycle company in The Netherlands, in-house knowledge exchange within different branches and specialties is accessible. The drinking water division appeared to have  experience with asset management and risk analysis already. Waste water adopted the risk matrix and remodeled it. In 2014 the water system division also created an asset management department, making use of all suitable tools already there and contributing a huge expertise of water safety control themselves. 

Risk assessments started out as learning on the job. Not only developing a methodology, but also learning about the assets and the colleagues who operate and maintain. The bottleneck, not surprisingly, is located within registration and accessibility of data. This concerns all kind of information, like asset registers, failure data, settings, procedures and financial figures. 

The common theme running through a successful asset management approach: get the operational departments involved in the exploring and implementing process. Not only because you’ll need their knowledge and experience; it will also create mutual goals and awareness. Asset management will no longer be a top management toy only. Doing it together is the key. And don’t forget the essential ingredients for success: enthusiasm and having fun! 

Waternet is on an exciting journey and along the way exploring and discovering new and already existing methods. Interacting with other companies and sharing best practices, is a great help. Connecting the best of different worlds. The final goal is clear, being in control by implementing asset management. The road towards this is adjustable, depending on the organization’s needs. Up till now the successful driver has been risk management. A turn from reaction into prediction, resulting in risk based investment plans. What will be next? 

This solution describes the process of implementing asset management within Waternet by closely involving the operational departments and making much of existing knowledge. Thus acting on the call of the board of directors to be in control. 

And what about the 2010 incident? Eventually, this was solved with a temporary above-ground sewerage pipe. Beautifully decorated during Christmas; the neighborhood loved it. As well as Waternet’s board of directors, in the end. Public image is and always will be important. 

The abstract has been selected to present during the session Asset Management Planning: Tools and Strategies on November 2nd 2016. 

Eric Voost 

Asset Manager Waste Water & Drinking Water