When we elect local government officials, we hope that they will make good long term decisions for the cities and towns that we live in. In an era of continual budget crises, this hope means that the intelligent long term care of municipal assets is not being sacrificed for immediate political gains.
Run to Failure Asset Management
One of the most common types of asset management is often called Run-To-Failure Maintenance or crisis maintenance. It is when assets are allowed to run until they breakdown before any attention is given to them.
The reason that run-to-failure maintenance is so prevalent is that it is easy to do, takes very little thought and is completely devoid of long term maintenance planning. It is the Easy Button for government officials and asset managers.
“…data obtained in many studies over the past decade indicates that most private and government facilities do not expend the necessary resources to maintain equipment in proper working order. Rather, they wait for equipment failure to occur and then take whatever actions are necessary to repair or replace the equipment.”
Source: U.S. Department of Energy
The Easy Button for Maintenance
No one expects an elected official to be an engineer, utility expert or city planner. But elected officials are expected to know how to find solutions to the problems their communities face.
Short term financial impact
The short term impact of waiting for equipment to break before taking maintenance measures includes:
- Higher emergency labor costs as assets rarely breakdown at convenient times.
- Higher labor costs as equipment breakdown more frequently
- Higher energy cost as poorly maintained equipment use more energy to accomplish the same results.
- Increased risk of catastrophic repair, event or disaster as it is usually a minor issue that blossoms into a disaster.
- A reduction in facilities or services available to the public as a result of unexpected closings
Long term financial impact
- Higher capital budget requirements as assets will need to be replaced more often due to poor maintenance practices.
- Higher liability and risk management costs as a result of accident lawsuits claiming negligence in asset care.
- City and municipal assets deteriorate faster
- Important asset systems such as water systems and stadiums etc. can reach a point where maintenance options are replaced by tear down and complete reconstruction.
The bottom line is there is no upside to waiting for assets to fail.
The EAM Smart Button
It is important for true leaders to visualize the long term when managing a city or town. In order to do this, elected officials need to know what are their assets are as well as where they are, the condition they are in and their maintenance history. This can be accomplished with an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system.
Short term impact
The short term impact of an EAM system is an almost immediate costs savings of all the short term impacts listed above for the Easy Button. This includes:
- A reduction in emergency repairs as assets are scheduled for all work management including preventive maintenance and periodic inspections based upon their maintenance history.
- Lower labor costs as manual processes and archaic means of tracking assets are replaced with computerized tools.
- Lower energy costs as equipment is maintained better (ex: HVAC).
- Reduced likelihood of catastrophic emergencies.
- Lower unplanned downtime and closings as most maintenance can be scheduled during off hours.
Long term financial impact
Implementing an EAM system will help manage assets from planning through replacement. This can benefit the smart politician because it will:
- Lower capital budget requirements thus freeing up resources need for new projects.
- A safer city or town.
- Landmarks, facilities, parks remain usable for a much longer period of time.
- Voters can take pride in their city and effective leadership.
- Smarter cities attract better business opportunities.
Waiting for assets to breakdown before reacting is not good asset management, good asset management includes making an EAM system the new Easy Button.