Implement data and digital technologies in asset management

by Holly Tancredi, Journalist, Infrastructure Magazine

Digital technologies are having a significant impact on how Australia manages its critical infrastructure. As a tool, digital enables large amounts of data to be collected and analyzed, resulting in better asset decisions. Here are some of the key talking points from the “Making the Most of Data in Asset Management” panel at this year’s Critical Infrastructure Summit.

This year’s Critical Infrastructure Summit featured the panel “Making the Most of Data in Asset Management” at its conference on Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure.

The panel was led by Boudewijn Neijens of Copperleaf, and panelists included Tim Mumford, Director – Digital and Innovation at Beca; Julian Watts, Director, Engineering and Asset Management at KPMG Australia; and Mark Simister, Head of Program Delivery at Sydney Water.

The panel explored how to get the most out of data and new digital assets, as customer demand increases and COVID-19 restrictions ease, as well as the challenges of systems, processes and the integration of new technologies. asset management.

Sydney Water Infrastructure Framework and Digital Backbone

Mr Simister said that over the past few years Sydney Water has had a very successful infrastructure program but the utility recognizes that customer demand is growing. “You need to rethink how your infrastructure framework is established and configured. A key part of that is incorporating a digital backbone and digital enablement,” Simister said.

Sydney Water introduced a new infrastructure delivery framework called Partnering for Success (P4S) in 2020 to do more with less and to be able to become more productive and efficient in how Sydney Water delivers to customers. He said success in asset management stems from the maturity matrix embedded in the P4S framework.

The matrix designs the exact milestones and milestones that Sydney Water and its partner organizations should follow over a ten-year period, according to eight basic parameters. A digital framework that defines expectations and milestones allows the utility to make decisions based on clear and specific objectives.

The digital backbone supports the myriad of decisions and steps towards growth, and Sydney Water was able to use legacy and demonstration as two key metrics to deliver more for less with the same resources.

“The digital backbone is becoming something essential to be able to rapidly progress our projects through the planning, design and construction phase and through to maintenance,” said Simister.

“We are really at the forefront of making sure you encompass everything from the BIM approach to infrastructure delivery right from the start. “We have projects that were in place a few years ago, probably taking two and a half years from dream to reality and completion.

Now some of those we’ve reduced to less than 12 months. So time is money and we demonstrate how far we can go and deliver faster, but with the same or even better results.

The right leadership and the right vision

The future of data in asset management isn’t just about operational pressure and customer demands, it’s also about the right team and the right leadership to succeed. Panelists shared how for some organizations the data they have access to is underutilized and requires a change in processes that needs to be adopted across the organization.

When it comes to what constitutes the “right team”, the panel said it’s essential to have a mix of experts who have been analyzing data for years, as well as new minds who can challenge the way whose data can be interpreted and turned into a valuable asset.

Mr Simister said there must be a balance between making the most of the knowledge and experience of experts in an organization, while opening the door to new minds that will push the boundaries. “There’s a really bright future ahead of us and lots of opportunities, but we have to make sure we take everyone on this journey,” Mr Simister said.

Mr Simister said that’s what Sydney Water is trying to do – organize integrated teams. He said asset managers are already embracing data and systems, which is second nature, but added that the humanity that allows us to connect, lead and engage should not be forgotten.

“It’s great to be able to look at data critically, because many engineers use math. The calculations that are in the background are the rules that are there and they just apply the rules. Sometimes innovation and the ability to think from a different angle can be lost.

Mr Mumford described finding the right team as difficult. You need a sufficient understanding of technical issues, a level of domain knowledge and a fair amount of industry experience. Most importantly, people need to understand the problem or challenge the customer or user is facing.

This requires a good deal of investigation, conflict resolution and strong, effective communication, as well as a degree of ownership when issues arise. “These people are unicorns,” Mr. Mumford said.

“We need to think about integrated learning for engineers and for this wider community. “Collaboration, working across organizations, bringing the right skills to the table is going to be really key.” Mumford said a problem in the industry is that asset managers sometimes wait for company owners to drive data and digital innovation.

“I would say that the digital asset management space is often seen by very senior leaders as someone else’s responsibility or someone else’s liability,” Mumford said. “It’s everyone’s responsibility and everyone has a responsibility to work more efficiently through tools like digital.” Mr. Mumford concluded by making a statement for a potential future environment.

“Imagine a world where we hold each other accountable for data quality. Imagine a world where innovation becomes everyone’s responsibility; where we were all empowered to innovate.

Register for free to watch the ‘Making the Most of Data in Asset Management’ panel from the Critical Infrastructure Summit by visiting