by Phil White, United Utilities and John Fortin, Jacobs
The asset and maintenance management practice is quickly gaining significant momentum on an international scale. The Australian/New Zealand influence has played a significant role in helping advance practices across the globe. The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) has been conducting process benchmarking for many years and has collected significant information which is being used to help drive and embed asset management best practices into all levels of asset intensive organizations. One common international area for improvement is asset maintenance management.
The United Utilities (UU) is charged to provide water services to some 3,000,000 customers over the northwest of England and has strong mandates from regulators to be cost-effective and efficient while meeting rigorous environmental standards. Over the past several decades, UK water companies have been rewarded on capital expenditure (CAPEX) spend which has often led to a “run-to-fail” approach regarding maintenance strategies. Some of which was captured in UU’s WSAA Benchmarking effort a few years back. However, recently there has been a shift to a balanced approach between CAPEX and operational expenditure (OPEX) which together is being looked at through the lens of total expenditure (TOTEX). So, with this new regulatory view, UU is proactively upgrading its maintenance strategy to become world class. They conducted an Asset Maintenance Maturity Assessment in 2019 to see where they stack up against industry best practices and in 2020 have established and began implementation of a robust 5-year improvement plan.
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