UP THERE WITH THE BEST: WHY KIWI ASSET MANAGERS ARE HOT

Vicki Deighton, CEO of Canadian asset management software company Deighton Associates, visited New Zealand recently and cites our public infrastructure asset managers − especially in roading − as amongst the best in the world.

WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF YOUR VISIT TO NEW ZEALAND?
Auckland Transport recently carried out analysis of over 6000 kilometres of roading using our dTIMS software and we’re here to discuss that analysis. I’ve also come to Auckland to meet the recipient of a Deighton research grant, Lin Chen from Auckland University. She has been working on new developments with our research team in Canada and has already made a really valuable contribution.

WHY DO YOU THINK KIWI ROADING ASSET MANAGERS ARE AMONG THE BEST IN THE WORLD?
Two characteristics set New Zealand asset managers apart from their global counterparts – their collaborative approach and their pragmatism. The concept of having private and government consultants come together in a non-competitive environment for the development of national asset management goals would be unheard of in most international environments.
The New Zealand government should also be acknowledged for legislating in September this year a requirement for planning 30-year investment in asset management plans.

CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT YOU MEAN BY BEST PRACTICE?
We oversee a global community of software users which makes us well placed to gauge comparative performance levels. New Zealand’s collaborative approach and commitment to the sustainability of asset management is frequently used as a benchmark for other countries to strive towards. When we refer to ‘best practice’ we’re trying to create a mind shift away from a short-term-fix mentality, towards a long-term strategic approach which we know to be far more effective for all stakeholders.

GLOBALLY WHAT ARE YOUR PREDICTIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF ASSET MANAGEMENT?
The requirement for asset management is becoming more and more an expectation rather than simply a consideration. It’s trending from managing the condition of your assets based on budgetary restraints to becoming more about
managing levels of service provided to the users of the assets, managing the risk of assets failing and the resources that you use to fix those assets. The need remains to not only know what assets you have and their current condition but to be able to predict with confidence, and a degree of accuracy, the future condition of those assets so that you can plan to manage the assets with respect to levels of service, risk and the resources needed.

WILL THERE BE ANY BIG CHANGES IN THE SHORT OR MEDIUM TERM WITH REGARDS TO TECHNOLOGY – OR PROCESS-BASED SECTOR ADVANCEMENTS?

Asset management is all about getting relevant information out of the data that you have into the hands of asset management decision makers. Advances in technology will give those managers even more information making it even more important to have effective tools to support critical analysis. Globally, we’re seeing a change of mindset by asset managers from reactive to proactive and New Zealand is leading that charge.

CAN YOU QUANTIFY THE RESULTS OF EFFECTIVE ASSET MANAGEMENT PRACTICES?
A great local example is the results achieved by Central Otago District Council. Any statistical framework is only as good as the quality of the input data and Central Otago District Council put considerable effort into ensuring its data was of a high quality.

Using the dTIMS forecasting software resulted in a $300,000 annual saving. Council also achieved a 96 percent satisfaction rating for its network which is well above the industry average. They, like so many councils, had the dTIMS software but didn’t think it would scale down for their relatively small network of 400 kilometres of sealed road. They are now converts.

WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU SEE FOR ASSET MANAGERS GLOBALLY OVER THE NEXT DECADE?
One of the challenges that New Zealand faces, along with the rest of the developed world, is the toxic combination of an ageing population and ageing assets combined with an ever increasing length / quantity of new assets.

What the public don’t understand is that when you build more roads the construction cost is just the tip of the iceberg. So who pays for the replacement and all the maintenance along the way?

If you have an ageing population there will be less money in the kitty for maintenance and replacement of assets as that money is going into health care and other associated costs. This makes it even more important to have a strategic
plan for both replacement and maintenance of assets. LG

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