New asset management system to improve infrastructure services

Integrating technical, operational, and billing systems into one unified platform will bring substantial benefits for municipalities.

The delivery of water and sanitation services in the iLembe district is set to be enhanced with the recent implementation of an integrated asset management system.

The new system will enable the iLembe District Municipality to integrate its commercial and technical functions with the organisation’s financial, GIS and fixed asset management systems. The system however can be expanded in the future to integrate with other municipal systems if necessary.

The system will be used for accurate mapping of infrastructure assets, development, implementation and operationalisation of maintenance procedures, analysing performance, assist in addressing non-revenue water (NRW), technical asset valuation, infrastructure rehabilitation, planning and enhanced customer care.

It is expected to improve the technical and financial sustainability significantly within the iLembe District Municipality once fully functional and operated by the officials.

The system was implemented under the Vuthela iLembe LED Support Programme as part of several initiatives to improve municipal infrastructure management and accelerate inclusive economic growth in the district.

The iLembe District Municipality services a customer base of more than 60 000 households who occupy a varied geographic area and have a wide range of income levels. Other challenges facing the district include ageing water and sanitation Infrastructure, and high levels of NRW resulting from both physical water losses and financial water losses.

Benefits

iLembe District Municipality will realise the following benefits once fully functional:

  • An accurate technical asset register, well maintained and interfaced with the financial asset register.
  • More effective emergency and crisis management.
  • Effective proactive and preventive maintenance.
  • Improved productivity and efficiency in operations and maintenance.
  • Increased asset effective life.
  • Improved NRW management – lower levels of NRW.
  • Improved service delivery (pressures, quality, less breakdown time, response).
  • Reduction of losses.
  • Higher organisation creditworthiness.
  • Enhanced compliance and transparency.

Addressing challenges

Asset Management expert Nicolas Savva, who headed the team implementing the system for EDAMS Technology, a division of Hydro-Comp, said the system is a comprehensive Utility Enterprise Management system covering all commercial and technical functions. It is integrated with the organisation’s financial, GIS, fixed asset management and other systems and provides a coherent enterprise system solution for the modern utility for addressing these challenges. The EDAMS systems and modules implemented at the iLembe District Municipality are as follows:

  • Date and network management
  • NRW
  • Asset rehabilitation and planning 
  • Maintainence 

The Vuthela component project will be fully implemented over nine months and the software will be licensed and supported for two years, funded through the Vuthela Programme, thereafter for annual renewal by the iLembe District Municipality.

The deployment of the system involved initiating the conversion of existing spatial data on the water and sanitation infrastructure, configuration of the various components and extensive training on the EDAMS modules deployed.

The EDAMS Integrated Asset Management system and its various modules currently deployed at the municipality gathers, stores, and evaluates data on all water and sanitation infrastructure assets enabling the following:

  1. Accurate technical asset registries for water and sanitation infrastructure.
  2. Complaints management (in the form of a call centre); job scheduling, maintenance workflows, and business processes; work order management; scheduling of preventative, proactive and routine maintenance programmes; and analysis and management of maintenance records.
  3. Manage and evaluate readings/instantaneous measurements and/or period logs taken from any asset.
  4. Efficient monitoring and control of bulk meters and operational data.
  5. Manage water demand zones/district metered areas (DMA) to reduce inefficiencies; ensure proper service delivery (water quantity and pressure); formulate water conservation plans with the main objective of reducing NRW; and ensure procedures and required reporting for compliance with regulations.
  6. Accurate condition and importance assessments for any type of infrastructure asset.
  7. Accurate infrastructure asset valuation determines the current price and maintenance (total cost) of ownership, evaluates the remaining useful life of assets, and evaluates the actual cost performance of the assets.
  8. Rehabilitation planning including (a) importance and risk assessment, (b) asset categorisation, (c) assessment of useful lives, (d) rating and ranking assets, and (e) budgeting.

The municipality can expect to increase the effective working life of its assets, improve service delivery and reduce physical and financial losses from its water and sanitation services. In turn, revenue is increased that can be re-invested to maintain and operate the existing assets and plan for new infrastructure development.

The system was developed by EDAMS Technology, a division of Hydro-Comp, an international company which is active in over 20 countries. Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Bitou Municipality, Silulumanzi and Siza Water use the EDAMS software in South Africa.

Interview with Nicolas Savva, Asset Management Expert, EDAMS Technology

Spark spoke to Nicolas Savva of EDAMS Technology service provider.

What were the key successes in implementing the system?

One of the major achievements was the successful deployment of the main EDAMS Network Data Management (NDM) system, which is now operational at the iLembe District Municipality. The system’s successful adoption across multiple departments marks a significant achievement.

What’s noteworthy is that all our EDAMS modules are integrated, creating a unified system that connects to a single database thus saving considerable costs that are typically associated with such integrations when multiple standalone systems necessitate connection with each other.

A significant accomplishment was the completion of multiple comprehensive training sessions and workshops, involving multiple municipal departments, enabling efficient management of various municipal functions.

With the training completed and the EDAMS systems already deployed, the municipality can expect a return on their investment very soon.

What were the main challenges?

Despite the successes, the implementation journey was not without challenges.

A notable challenge was on the systems deployment method (cloud or local hosting) which took the municipality approximately four months to finalise.

Additionally, finding common availability of all the people involved in the training sessions posed a challenge due to the required participation of personnel from many different departments.

Ensuring consistent user engagement and cooperation across various units presented some difficulties. Moreover, adapting existing workflows and processes to align with the system’s requirements required significant effort.

What were the key learnings?

The implementation process provided valuable insights.

Securing the support and commitment of senior management throughout the entire process is crucial for achieving success.

The implementation of such a comprehensive system extended across the entire municipality, from the ICT department, GIS, financial services, and in general to all service-providing departments. This requires a high level of coordination and collaboration between individuals and different departments.

What needs to be done going forward to ensure that the system works effectively?

To ensure the system’s continued effectiveness, a few measures need to be taken. First and foremost, maintaining a culture of commitment and support from senior leadership is imperative.

Equally important is capacity building and knowledge sharing, ensuring that existing system users can also provide ongoing training for new system operators, accompanied by the already provided comprehensive technical manuals for future reference.

Moreover, regular assessments of system performance and feedback collection will aid in identifying areas for improvement.

Implementing a change management strategy is highly advisable to facilitate a smooth adaptation to the new system.

Lastly, proactive exploration of opportunities for system expansion and integration with related software will contribute to its long-term success.