Southern Water – Enhanced asset management capabilities

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To improve its ability to maintain its assets and to meet regulatory requirements, Southern Water wanted to gain a more comprehensive and consistent insight into its complex water and wastewater infrastructure.

Southern Water worked with AMT-SYBEX to redefine the company’s asset data hierarchy and conduct site surveys to align existing data to this hierarchy. As a result, the company has been able to improve the consistency of its asset data to between 98 and 100 per cent. Southern Water can now use this data to gain a deeper understanding of its assets, enabling the company to target investments in maintenance and replacement more effectively. This translates into higher levels of efficiency and customer service.

The challenge

Managing the life cycle of its assets is essential for Southern Water to provide reliable water and wastewater services to customers and meet its regulatory bligations. The company recognised an opportunity to improve its understanding of asset maintenance needs, costs and risks, offering a chance to boost efficiency and utilisation of resources.

The solution

Southern Water engaged AMT-SYBEX to manage the full scope of a major project that included defining a new asset data hierarchy, organising the tender process for a large-scale asset survey, and overseeing the field work and data quality assessment.

The benefits

  • Increases consistency within the new asset data hierarchy to between 98 and 100 per cent.
  • Enhances the company’s insight into its asset base, improving the understanding of each component’s lifecycle and value.
  • Integrates asset data with deterioration modelling to enable analysis against a wide range of variables.
  • Enables better allocation of investments in maintenance and replacement, helping to raise service levels and contributing to higher efficiency.
  • Offers a sound basis for future improvements in asset data management, providing a clearly defined approach when acquiring new assets and helping to preserve data integrity.

Each day, Southern Water provides 551 million litres of water to customers in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and treats and recycles 800 million litres of wastewater. Southern Water serves approximately two million households. Southern Water owns and manages 94 water treatment works, 370 wastewater treatment works and 13,700 kilometres of water mains. One of the key challenges facing the company is gaining an accurate view of the complex and extensive network of assets that form these systems.

“Our mission is to be recognised as the UK’s leading water company,” says James Grinnell, Head of Information at Southern Water.

“This means we are continually looking for ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our processes and improve our customers’ experience. To do this, it’s essential that we understand the assets that make up our infrastructure.”

Striving to do better

When Southern Water began introducing deterioration modelling techniques to analyse its asset base, the company sought to improve data consistency. “The Ofwat review provided a trigger for us to carry out a really thorough evaluation of our asset repository and how it was structured,” comments Grinnell. “We found a number of inconsistencies in our asset data hierarchy, which limited the value of any modelling we undertook. We realised that if we could gain a really accurate view of asset value, condition and risks, the benefits would be very significant. We would be able to target investment in asset maintenance and improvements more efficiently, and ultimately deliver a better level of service to our customers.”

Taking the first steps

Southern Water began seeking a partner with the industry-specific expertise to help redesign its asset data hierarchy and improve the consistency of its asset information. The company engaged AMT-SYBEX to manage the full scope of the project.

Making changes

In an 18-month project, AMT-SYBEX helped Southern Water prepare a sound business case, design a new asset data hierarchy, manage the tender process for a partner to run a company-wide asset data quality survey, and oversee the entire process to completion.

Defining the survey requirements proved a particular challenge, as Grinnell explains: “We have tens of thousands of assets in the field and we knew it wouldn’t be cost-effective or operationally feasible to check every single one. Instead, we carried out site surveys on a carefully selected sample of assets to help evaluate where more thorough checks were required. It called for careful project management to make sure we selected a good sample. AMT-SYBEX helped us evaluate the selection on an on-going basis, carrying out more extensive surveys when needed.”

Seeing the results

Since completing the project, Southern Water has seen an improvement in the consistency of the data within its asset data hierarchy. Consequently, the company is gaining a much more comprehensive understanding of its asset base.

“As a result of the project with AMT-SYBEX, data consistency within our asset data hierarchy has improved to between 98 and 100 per cent,” says Grinnell. A more comprehensive view of assets enables Southern Water to optimise its investment in maintenance and upgrade work – making the maximum amount of improvement to its infrastructure for the minimum cost. The company invests around £1 billion in maintenance over five years and allocating this huge budget effectively is a major priority for the company.

“Working with AMT-SYBEX has given us deeper insight into the life cycle and value of our assets,” comments Grinnell.

“The new, consistent data hierarchy provides a sound basis for deterioration modelling, enabling us to move away from reactive maintenance and towards a more predictive approach. We can target maintenance investment more effectively, so we can extend the life span of our assets as much as possible while maintaining excellent performance. The ultimate result? Our customers will enjoy better service levels, while we keep costs to a minimum.”

Looking to the future

Moving forward, Southern Water aims to maintain the improvements achieved through the project. “Our priority is to protect the integrity of our asset data by continuing with the best practices that we have developed and implemented with AMT-SYBEX,” concludes Grinnell. “One of the most important outcomes of the project is that we have gained a clearly defined standard to follow when acquiring new assets.

By keeping our asset database in a good condition, we will be able to perform more accurate analyses and make more informed decisions about asset maintenance and replacement. In the long term, this will make a huge difference to our ability to increase service levels and efficiency.”


Case Study – Southern Water – Enahanced asset management capabilities
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