Managing Malaysia's water utilities with smarter asset management

Dec 2, 2015 -- Industry leaders and government organisations such as Pengurusan Aset Air Berhad (PAAB) are now turning to advanced smart mapping technology to achieve the greatest benefit from their infrastructure, a local thought leader on geospatial technology said.

The head of the nation’s largest provider of smart mapping solutions, Esri Malaysia CEO Lai Chee Siew, said the use of spatial technology is gaining momentum across the region as more organisations look for smarter approaches to maximising returns on asset and resource investments.

 “Malaysia has always been well-regarded for its world-class infrastructure and facilities, however our traditional asset management practises are fast becoming out-dated,” Mr Lai said.

“Today, best practise asset management goes well beyond maintaining inventories of equipment, property and in some instances people. It entails a greater element of situational awareness,” he said.

“Network assets, continuously need planned and unplanned maintenance. Traditional approaches to asset management offer little more than a static stock count.” 

Mr Lai said it is here advanced smart mapping technology – also known as Geographic Information System (GIS) technology – comes into the picture by integrating data from various sources to create a dynamic view of information.

“Using GIS technology, network asset managers can instantly determine the location, condition, and ongoing cost of maintenance for high-value equipment.”

“They can see patterns of damage, leakage and loss and make more informed decisions when it comes to repair or redeployment of assets,” he said.

Mr Lai said the technology also enables service records, equipment efficiency indicators and historical patterns of use to be monitored and scrutinised – and all in near real-time.

“Decision-makers are now recognising the fact that the most valuable resource they have is their organisation’s own information, and the ability to use that information to make better decisions on where they should invest and how they can better maintain their resources and infrastructure,” he said.

This is what PAAB has done, they have successfully leveraged GIS technology to ensure they are making the most out of their assets.

“When you look at the components of the water industry, companies like PAAB have utilities and plants, and various distribution systems that they continuously have to monitor and track so they can properly maximise the use of each resource” Mr Lai said.

Faced with the challenge of a rapidly growing portfolio of assets and operators, PAAB developed a GIS-based web dashboard that provides a high-level view into the operations and asset handling of the organisation.

Their system provides decision-makers with a spatially referenced inventory about each reservoir, the year it was built, top and bottom water levels, updates with the maintenance and other relevant information needed for decision making and forecasting.

In addition, by having a system that integrates workflows, the company’s asset managers are able to save costs as a result of better and more effective management of existing assets and the ability to coordinate the timing and scheduling of cross-asset activities.

“By knowing when to do the maintenance during an asset’s lifecycle versus letting the infrastructure degrade to the point of purchasing a replacement enables an organisation to ensure that costs, revenue and resources are managed effectively,” Mr Lai said. 

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