With the rapidly shrinking funding resources, the taxpayer dollar is being stretched further and further. Often this takes the form of aging infrastructure that needs more and more costly maintenance with increased chances for stability issues, e.g., failure of retaining walls. Each element of an infrastructure, e.g., wall, slope, bridge, etc., is a key asset which needs to interact with other assets to have a fully functional infrastructure. Lately buzz words such as “Asset Management” are becoming trendy in the industry. At it very core the concept of asset management involves a systematic condition assessment of various elements of any infrastructure and evaluation of the remaining service life in terms of prioritization of maintenance (repairs).
Naresh Samtani has been performing these types of studies for over 15 years and has developed innovative tools for efficient asset management. Naresh has helped local and state agencies develop a practical asset management program where in-service facilities are rated in terms of observed distress and two priority ranking systems for maintenance and repair are developed.
These two prioritization systems are based on the “normalized raw score” (NRS) method and the “quality function deployment” (QFD) method. The advantage of having two systems is to ensure that the asset (wall, bridge, rock slope, etc.) that needs the most attention is independently confirmed by two distinctly different systems and thereby assures the owners that they can correctly plan and allocate appropriate resources (human and monetary) to assets that are in dire need of help. NCSG has helped local and federal agencies apply this method of asset management that has resulted in the owners being more transparent and rational in their funding allocation process. In fact, use of this approach of asset management has helped owners secure funding for maintenance and repairs since the funding sources can better explain their decisions to allocate funding to public and political entities.
Brief descriptions of NRS and QFD prioritization methods of asset management are given below:
Normalized Raw Score (NRS) Method
The NRS method is based on developing a score for each asset based on the number of observed distress cases with their severity levels and then normalizing the score with respect to the maximum score from all the assets that were included in the evaluation. Although agencies may tend to assign different names for their asset management systems, almost all agencies utilize this method with some variations, e.g., using weighted or unweighted scores, consideration of ancillary items such as traffic control, public relations, political expediency, etc. Often the use of this method involves use of judgment and anecdotal evidence to develop priority ranking. Therefore, this system may lead to subjective results.
Quality Function Deployment (QFD) Method
The QFD method is a decision making tool to quantitatively estimate quality based on various measurable data sets. The various data sets are interrelated through a quality function deployment matrix. The concept is used to obtain an independent and objective priority ranking of the assets with respect to need for repair in terms of their “quality function deployment” (QFD) score. The scores are then plotted in a specific format to obtain an “affinity chart,” which is a graphical expression of the quality function deployment matrix. Points plotting in the first quadrant are of greatest interest because they signify an above average relative raw score (RRS) and an above average number of observed distress cases. For each asset in the first quadrant, the length of the line from the origin to its respective point on the affinity chart is calculated. These values represent a measure of importance with respect to repair of each asset. The longer that line, the more important the need for repair of the asset. Thus, a graphic representation of risk is obtained that helps the decision makers to comprehend the priority and also develop a strategy for explaining their decisions to the various stakeholders such as local jurisdictions and travelling public. An example of application of QFD system with affinity chart can be found here.
NCSG’s Unique Innovations for Asset Management Systems
With over a decade in asset management experience, NCSG has expanded the concept of the QFD system and affinity chart to make it even more powerful to meet the needs of industry’s latest codes and specifications. Examples of additional features include, but are not limited to, use of stochastic (probabilistic) processes, incorporation of concepts of load and resistance rating factor (LRFR) methodology, and estimation of remaining service life. NCSG is confident that this level of asset management is unique and innovative that other firms cannot offer.
Please Contact Us if you are interested in developing a practical and innovative asset management program.