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INFRASTRUCTURE AUSTRALIA APRIL 2014
remote asset inspection, autonomous operations, and integrated
scheduling and system control.
Infrastructure operators should cra a comprehensive pro-
gramme of sustainability measures, based on the theme Reduce,
Recycle, Replace . e report cites modern wastewater treatment
plants which can change from being net energy consumers to
net energy producers by using methane from waste-to-power
According to the report, operators should invest in preventive
and predictive maintenance, which is increasingly facilitated by
remote condition monitoring and advanced asset deterioration
modelling. Another crucial factor in extending lifetime is the
adequate management of the asset, according to its speci ca-
tions, to control excessive usage or consumption (eg regulating
the use of heavy trucks on rural roads).
e report warns that a further major risk to infrastructure
is natural disasters. e economic losses caused by storms,
ooding and earthquakes worldwide over the past 30 years are
estimated at US$3.5 trillion, and these hazards are becoming
more common and more destructive because of climate change.
To address this, the report challenges governments to identify
and assess those risks, develop cross-sectoral master plans and
incorporate more resilience into existing assets.
Before committing to major capital expenditure, governments
should rst identify all possible project options and investigate
more cost e ective solutions, such as throughput optimisation,
loss reduction, demand side measures, systemwide capacity bal-
ancing and targeted investments to debottleneck existing sites.
e project should then be selected on the basis of a rigorous
cost-bene t analysis, taking the whole life cycle into account.
In many cases, the life cycle analysis will reveal that the long
term costs of O&M are actually much greater than the initial
costs of construction. e report states that as a result, the life
cycle cost analysis needs to be performed early on and in the
speci c asset context, as the majority of life cycle costs can still
be in uenced through shrewd design and engineering decisions,
such as whether to use concrete or asphalt for paving a road.
Enablement best practices
Governments also need to ensure funding, build capabilities and
reform governance. e report warns that usual funding such
as budget appropriations are vulnerable to political expediency
and unsuitable for O&M but dedicated maintenance funds that
O&M should be treated
by governments ... as
a strategic asset that
optimises the value of
an infrastructure asset.
earmark and ring fence user taxes, user charge models and rev-
enues from ancillary businesses are preferable. But such funds
face their own set of challenges in many countries: the increasing
fuel e ciency of cars (and their future replacement by e-cars),
as well as at fuel tax rates, erode the funds nancial base.
Consequently, it is essential to link their revenues to in ation
and actual tra c volumes.
A broader adoption of user charges is also warranted, accord-
ing to the report, as they can more easily link funding to in a-
tion and tra c volumes. User charge models not only ensured a
dedicated funding contribution from each user, but also encour-
aged customers to use the available capacity responsibly and
sparingly. e shortage of skilled sta was another impediment
to implementing O&M, according to the report. Governments
needed to do more to attract high quality O&M managers and
planners, and to develop and retain them for the long term.
When making their infrastructure plans, governments need
to ensure that O&M projects are prioritised in an integrated cost
bene t framework, alongside green eld projects; and to ensure
the continuity of the maintenance programme beyond election
cycles. e report suggests governments should conduct regular
assessments of the existing asset base and create an infrastruc-
ture balance sheet to show how the stock of assets has evolved
and to forecast the required maintenance funding. Standardised
infrastructure asset management processes and frameworks
(such as ISO 55000) should also be introduced.
e North-West Transitway in Sydney is a good example
of what can be achieved by applying such data driven decision
making. By using a sophisticated pavement modelling tool based
on highly granular data, the contractors were able to home in
on an optimal whole lifecycle solution with cost savings of 15%,
while still ensuring road availability of 99%.
e report proposes corporatisation of public agencies as an
approach to optimise O&M, but stresses it is important to keep
them accountable to the public and serving the public interest.
Governments failing to achieve full optimisation potential
should begin by systematically reviewing and benchmarking
their O&M practices and policies against the complete best
According to the report, O&M should be treated by govern-
ments not only as an operational necessity aimed at reducing
costs, but also as a strategic element that optimises the value
of an infrastructure asset for society -- by increasing the asset s
utilisation, availability and service levels. In the long term, a sus-
tainable O&M solution will inevitably require the right enablers
in place, secured and stable funding, managerial and technical
capabilities, and the right governance structure.
Although most countries will still need to construct new
assets and address vast infrastructure de ciencies, by optimising
existing capacity utilisation, the report said that O&M best prac-
tice can signi cantly reduce the amount of new construction and
make nancial resources available for whatever new construc-
tion is truly needed. ■
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