Brightly column: Synergies between assets

11th Jun 2024

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Byline: Nick Vague, Senior Solutions Consultant, Brightly Software

When assets are not managed correctly, it causes knock-on effects and disruption that could otherwise have been avoided.

For example: Imagine if a gully along a highway was running slowly due to a broken pipe and a weather warning for heavy rain was in place. Overnight, the rainfall would cause localised flooding, resulting in road closures and diversions being put in place. Subsequently the broken pipe would allow the road’s sub-surface to be washed away, causing the road surface to collapse, creating further delays and disruption.

Yet a situation like this could easily be avoided. With a single asset management system in place, a proactive plan could be implemented, ensuring regular inspection and early identification and resolution of issues – reducing both cost and disruption.

Nick Vague, Senior Solutions Consultant, Brightly Software

Nick Vague, Senior Solutions Consultant, Brightly Software

Getting ahead of the curve

By understanding how assets behave, both independently and in relation to their surroundings over time, local authorities are essentially (and metaphorically) lining up each asset as a domino in a row. They can stop the ‘dominos’ from falling over or setting off a chain reaction, which is essential to minimising asset failure and creating wider disruption. In this context, data is the superglue.

The solution? Local authorities can use centralised data across asset classes to not only understand the characteristics of every single asset, but also analyse the impact they have on each other. For example: What are the weak spots that are letting them down and costing them money? Where can they apply that metaphorical superglue to mitigate costly work, health and safety risks and community disruption?

The domino effect in action – Highways and Drainage

The intricate network of assets that supports every journey on UK roads is vast – from carriage and footways to streetlights, traffic signals, bridges, retaining walls and signal gantries. Each of them play their own important role in ensuring the safe and efficient transit of communities.

However, local councils are currently facing the reality of a rapidly ageing road network with ever reducing budgets. On top of this, with more than 300 councils declaring a climate emergency, net zero goals are high on the agenda, so finding ways to operate more sustainably in the midst of budgetary pressures is a real challenge. 

Another issue is the current skills shortage of highly trained engineers that are needed to maintain the complexities of bridges and structures. This skills gap is being plugged with contractors who are often using their own systems to record the findings of inspections. In turn, this is leading to siloed data across multiple disparate systems, therefore, spotting opportunities to streamline operations and reduce remedial spending is all but impossible without highly effective communication and collaboration.

Drainage underpins everything on the highway, and communities are often built on-top of a drainage network that was installed more than a century ago. With a lack of comprehensive, accurate plans, drainage is the asset class where councils  amount of have the least knowledge about the location and status of these hidden but vital assets. Vital because a single cracked pipe could cause sinkholes in a highway and close roads for weeks at a time, as well as drumming up costs for surveying and repairs.

When it comes to drainage, it’s important for councils to have an asset management platform where they can continually record the location and condition of pipework, as well as seamlessly integrate with drainage survey AI providers, to build a clearer picture of the network as a whole – re-mapping it over time.

From this standpoint, with more detail and understanding of asset behaviours, local authorities can start to proactively manage maintenance schedules based on historical trends.

A united approach to asset management

Assets United. is a joined-up approach to asset management from Brightly, which gives its users a holistic and detailed view of all assets within their jurisdiction, irrespective of asset class, so they can make smarter decisions. In turn, these smart decisions have the potential to rapidly filter through every stakeholder, from the procurement team and senior managers within the council, to engineers on the ground, right through to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians trying to get around safely. Ultimately, the initiative uncovers synergies while putting the systems’ users in control of the actions they need to take.


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