Asset owners in industries like oil and gas or roads and utilities have unique asset management requirements and are often left stranded with asset management software designed for discrete assets. Such software systems fail to address the unique needs associated with linear assets and often necessitate the use of several standalone applications and manual actions to store and retrieve asset related information.
Linear assets extend along one physical dimension in space and often connect with each other through their relationship with the linear infrastructure they are associated with. Says Stefan Swanepoel, Associate Consultant at Pragma: “A good example of this is a service road that runs alongside sections of a railway line, where the railway line is the primary linear asset and the service road is a linear sub asset related to the railway line. Linear assets can be repaired or replaced in situ as a unit or in segments that can vary dynamically, based on condition or operational considerations associated with the asset.”
The structure of the asset register plays an important role in an organisation’s ability to analyse the performance, cost and risks associated with its assets and this is no different for linear assets. According to Swanepoel, the two important aspects that should be considered when configuring a linear asset are the level of detail required when capturing the cost, reliability and maintenance history of assets, as well as the organisation’s ability to maintain such level of detail.
Says Swanepoel: “The solution to the problems lies in a single Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system that is capable of effectively dealing with all key linear and discrete asset data to allow the transformation of data to information for decision making purposes. EAM systems with linear asset capability have the important feature of dynamic segmentation in which assets can be split into virtual segments. These dynamic segments can be used to associate work, record condition or varying attributes with a linear asset along its length.”
Swanepoel explains: “For example, a section of road could be anything from 1km to 100km in length and have varying attributes such as type of pavement and number of lanes. The road condition, maintenance cost and failures (potholes), etc. could also vary along its length over time. But the road remains one asset, and EAM systems with linear referencing capabilities allow an organisation to manage it as such without splitting it into discrete segments as required by a traditional hierarchical asset register.”
The position on a linear asset can be specified as a single point or segment with start and end positions, all relative to a known position along the specific linear asset or higher level linear asset. The Linear Asset Management (LAM) system is able to translate these relative offsets to an absolute position on the asset that could even be translated into geospatial coordinates if the reference linear asset has been mapped with geospatial coordinates.
Continues Swanepoel: “Pragma’s On Key is known for its industry leading functionality related to hierarchical asset type and asset tree structures that uniquely provide for structured management of maintenance plans for discrete assets from generic to very specific maintenance tasks. This functionality has further been enhanced through the introduction of a number of key functions in support of LAM with the release of On Key 5.10. An integrated approach to the management of linear assets enables asset owners to get a bird’s eye view of the performance of their linear and discrete assets without having to manually integrate data from various standalone systems.”
Linear asset management has been around for years, yet many organisations still attempt to manage their linear assets using traditional hierarchical asset registers.
“Our paper highlights some key considerations in the management of linear assets and illustrates how Pragma’s On Key EAM can help users to better manage their linear assets.”