What exactly is Asset Management System? Many definitions have been offered over the years. In 1994 Hudson et al* state that Asset Management or Infrastructure Management, depending on how it is termed, is “the process of integrating design, construction, maintenance, rehabilitation, and renovation to maximize benefits to the user and minimize total costs to the owners and users.”
The authors suggest that the term infrastructure management is appropriate but clearly the highway and transportation industry has chosen asset management to describe this process. They also point out that the technology used in the asset management is:
- good data inputs
- economic models and analysis,
- benefit-cost studies
- good maintenance and rehabilitation
All are needed to provide good asset management. They point out that an asset management system is a “framework consisting of the operational package (methods, procedures, data, software, policies, decision, budgets, and fund, etc.) that links and enables the carrying out of all the activities involved in asset management.” Many other definitions are around but these served to set the pattern we discuss here.
Asset management must integrate all the major factors for several types of assets combined simultaneously or individually, and over time. It is also necessary to carry out full multi-objective and multi-constraint optimization over many types of assets.
A functional asset management system consists of a combination of management systems or modules for individual asset types, such as safety, pavement, and bridges and a set of interfaces that ties these modules and their output together. Finally, a series of analytical tools including optimization, cross-optimization, and asset trade-off analyses are needed to allow administrators to combine budgets in the most effective way at the executive level.
True asset management must be outlined from the administration at the top of an agency but in practice, it is truly a bottom-up process. Each class of assets, e.g. pavements, bridges, must be outlined with details from proper data collected to the development of fully functioning software that can stand on its own. Additional modules such as safety, fleet, etc. are then added as needed. These are all interfaced using proper asset trade-off analyses and data coordination. Appropriate analyses and reporting functions are developed, used and codified at several levels starting with the bridge department and pavement department, etc. where the data, data analysis, and details actually exist to actively make day-to-day decisions.
The data and the analysis results are also codified and summarized in necessary reports which are more easily used by planners, financiers, and finally top administration. This is an iterative process where top administrators outline what they think they need. These needs are then met, but often as the administrators see the additional information, maps, tables, financial summaries, etc. (which can be provided), they change, or add to or subtract from their original needs. A good asset management system presents the information in the manner which best helps the user role/level being served. For instance, at the top administration level, dashboards and summaries are presented, but also tools are available where an active administrator can use to drill down and get any details s/he wants. For example, point at a map and up pops the detail, e.g. condition, and serviceability level for a particular section which an influential legislator or citizen is asking about.
AgileAssets currently offers 12 Asset Management Modules. As far as we can determine from the literature, observed practice, and talks with transportation agencies, this is more than any other provider has available. Thus, AgileAssets is best positioned to provide agencies software that can be developed step-by-step into total asset management. Whether you are interested in the first step or a full asset management system AgileAssets can fulfill your needs.
* Haas, Ralph, W.R. Hudson, and J.P. Zaniewski, Modern Pavement Management, Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida, 1994.