Asset management ‘by SYSTRA’: when infrastructures look into the future

Whether they are public or private, mobility organising authorities or operators, infrastructure managers or investors, our clients share the same ambition: to manage their assets in the best possible way in order to achieve their full potential for the benefit of their communities, territories and their own activity. This ambition is one of the responses to the economic and environmental challenges highlighted by the current context: from ‘nice to have’, asset management has become a ‘must have’ for all those involved in mobility. At SYSTRA, we offer them concrete solutions in order to accompany them throughout the lifecycle of their networks in compliance with the ISO 55 001 standard.

ACT BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

The transport networks we use daily can sometimes be decades old, or even more than a century old in the case of the first lines. Their development continues with major projects such as the HS2 high speed line in the United Kingdom or the Grand Paris Express in France.

But make no mistake, tomorrow’s infrastructures are first and foremost those of today. In fact, the dangers associated with bad asset management are very real: multiplication of incidents and accidents, deterioration of services, even line closures, cost increases… the challenges involved are many and concern all our clients, whether they are involved in the planning, design, construction or operation and maintenance of transport networks.

Taking care of existing networks is therefore a prerequisite for the development of ever more sustainable mobility.

Adopting best practices in this area should enable our clients to:

  • Sustainably maintain the level of performance of the line or network, both in terms of operational performance (capacity, availability, reliability, safety, etc.) and environmental performance (carbon footprint, frugality, etc.);
  • Assess and control risks (safety, environment, health, etc.) in the short and long term for clients, their teams, the communities and territories served;
  • Optimise costs by adjusting capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expenditure (OPEX) as closely as possible to the real needs of the network and with a view of the entire lifecycle of the assets. An additional €1 million invested wisely during the design/construction of a bridge can, for example, generate enormous savings in maintenance operations throughout its life.

Good news! In their daily work our clients can already use two important levers to take care of their networks and generate more value by scheduling appropriate investments and improving the maintenance of their assets. On these issues, the challenge is to decide and intervene in the right way, in the right place, and at the right time (before a failure).

What are the concrete solutions for activating these two levers and hence improving their asset management?

The associated challenges are numerous and concern all our clients: whether they are involved in the programming, design, construction or operation and maintenance of transport networks. But let’s not be fatalistic, there are plenty of opportunities to adopt best practices in this area and find the right balance to:

TO UNDERSTAND YOUR ASSETS, YOU MUST KNOW THEM

Do you know your assets? Asking our clients this question could raise a smile. The answer will not be the same depending on who you are talking to. While all this data indeed describes the same network from different perspectives, they do not all have the same value depending on the players and their usefulness. However, it is essential to have an alignment of all parties within the same organisation around a common objective.

In the case of asset management, two pieces of information prove valuable to our clients when making investment and maintenance decisions: what is the condition of the network (or fleet)? Does this condition allow us to achieve performance objectives aligned with the company’s strategy and to manage cost and risk? While these questions may seem more precise, the answers are not!

Taking a snapshot of the assets as they are enables a description of them to be provided, which is at once:

  • Quantitative, with a register of assets, their age and their financial (and particularly accounting) values;
  • Qualitative, with an assessment of their condition (residual life) and performance to complete the quantitative information (a 10-year old road, for example, may be in worse condition than a road laid 50 years ago).

This improved knowledge of the assets is a key issue for ‘taking the temperature’ of its network, informing decision-making and observing the effects of its implementation. Depending on the project, the framing and granularity of the snapshot taken by SYSTRA is adjusted according to the needs of clients.

UNDERSTAND TO FORESEE

Knowing one’s assets is necessary but not enough when taking decisions for their correct management. For example, observing rail wear and tear on a section of line does not make it possible to draw conclusions concerning either the causes of this wear and tear, the criticality of their impacts in the short, medium and long term, or the nature and urgency of the measures to be taken both for maintenance and renovation.

The facts observed and capitalised on in the knowledge base of the assets must be put in perspective. The implementation of a reading and analysis grid will help clients understand:

  • The causes of damage to assets: what are the main factors leading to their wear and tear and/or obsolescence (use, time, environment, maintenance carried out, etc.);
  • The consequences of the deterioration of assets on their performance (and that of the network), their costs and the risks.

This analytical work of transforming data into useful information for decision making is based in particular on an area of technical expertise in transport network engineering and maintenance (especially the contribution of Reliability Centred Maintenance) and on an ability to model the lifecycle of assets and the operational and financial impacts of their current and projected condition.

FORESEE BEFORE ACTING

SYSTRA assists clients in this respect, from decision making to implementation. This translates into the following services:

Advice, to prescribe investment and/or maintenance scenarios that meet the situation’s objectives (performance, costs and risks) and constraints (budgetary, technical, human, etc.) specific to each network;
Engineering, to translate the selected scenarios into concrete operational action on the network or fleet (e.g. design and deployment of #IoT connected assets);
Change management, to ensure that intangible assets (such as human resources or digital tools) are in line with the management of tangible assets.

DEFINITIONS

  • Asset Management: The set of activities implemented by an organisation to properly manage its assets, their performance, costs and risks throughout their lifecycle in order to achieve its business objectives.
  • Asset: An asset can be defined as ‘an item, thing or entity that has potential or actual value to an organisation’. More concretely, whatever the mode of transport, mobility actors distinguish at least two main categories of assets:
    • Physical assets such as the transport network (track, bridge, tunnel, station, catenary, substation…) or the fleet of rolling stock (bus, metro, tram, train…).
    • Intangible assets such as skills, know-how, the brand, client relations, intellectual property, data.

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