Residents in my village are currently suffering from a healthy dose of road rage – rage literally at potholes and the poor condition of the roads!
There is concern over how the potholes damage cars and houses, impact access to local businesses, and, not to mention, give a poor impression of the area. As taxpayers, the community expects more for their money and a well maintained and well managed highway can contribute towards local council priorities.
Cumbria is the fifth largest highways authority in the UK, with the second largest footprint. The county council, which is responsible for maintaining the network, receives about £70m in funding for its roads every year. But this is not enough, with the maintenance backlog now standing at an estimated £300m.
The county council delivers both planned and reactive maintenance activities and aims to have deep potholes repaired within 1 working day, or 5 working days on minor rural roads (I must be REALLY rural!). Permanent repairs require considerable equipment and resource to cut out the affected area, seal, fill and compact it. When this is not possible, they do emergency (temporary) repairs which often require repeat visits.
In addition to repairs (reactive maintenance), they carry out programmed patching work (planned maintenance) to prepare the road for surface dressing within a couple of years.
“We know the potholes are there, but we are not able to get to them as quickly as we would like.” – Keith Little, Cumbria County Council’s highways chief
Doing the right thing at the right time to the right asset
In my work life, I see businesses striving for safe, high performing, and cost-effective assets and infrastructure every day. So why should this be any different?
Organisations without the funding or resources of the big players need to be smart with what they have. This means asset management is perhaps even more important because you need each and every asset to be operating as efficiently as possible.
Assets are essential for a community – for quality of life, safety, economic benefits and sustainability. As taxpayers, the public expects that their investments will be optimised, providing the longest life at the lowest possible cost. If maintenance is not being done at the appropriate time, our roads will continue to deteriorate, and require a more extensive and more expensive treatment.
Let’s say that resurfacing the road at the optimal time costs X. Waiting another 5 years to begin resurfacing will result in minor reconstruction work costing at least 3X. Deferring that will result in a full-blown replacement at 10X of the original maintenance!
Public infrastructure is a critical responsibility of government at all levels
The real problem of course is that government bodies need more funding to invest in critical infrastructure to support crucial services.
“We are no different to any other authority in England.
And the lack of funding is not limited to our roadways either, it includes public infrastructure such as parks and public spaces, buildings and facilities, fleet vehicles and more.
Justify costs based on actual operations, maintenance and capital costs
With so many public assets, wouldn’t you like to see where the money goes? And to know how it was budgeted? This kind of transparency is possible – we see it in our customers every day, including utilities, oil and gas, as well as the facilities management sector.
The first step is to have a centralised system for detailed data collection on your assets. This includes the assets current condition, your current inventory and spares, and the replacement value. An asset management system (such as IBM Maximo) is a prerequisite to planning and budgeting appropriately for maintenance and replacement needs.
The next step is to ramp up your asset management strategy based on full lifecycle costing. Connect your asset management system to a financial planning solution, like PowerPlan, to maximize return based on variables such as timing, cost, forecasted asset deterioration and risk.
PowerPlan’s Asset Investment Optimization Suite helps organisations allocate available resources effectively to maintain/improve service levels. For example, if both Projects A & B need to be completed on Road C within the next 6 months, you can maximize resources and minimize disruptions to the citizenry by combining projects A & B together versus completing them separately.
Finally, why not share a report with the community for full transparency so they can see how funds are allocated for themselves? PowerPlan provides organisations with a fact-based plan for asset investments, so they can easily show funding justification and spending priorities.
Showing stakeholders that they have a well-constructed plan for addressing the potholes goes a long way in building tax payers’ trust and eliminating the rage!
Read the Press Release to discover more on the benefits of a holistic approach to asset management, planning and optimization, and our integrated solutions across those disciplines.