Inside Melbourne Water's $20m asset systems overhaul

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Inside Melbourne Water's $20m asset systems overhaul

'Once in a 15-year opportunity'.

Melbourne Water was at a crossroads: upgrading to the eighth iteration of its ageing asset management system meant a lot more investment, but wouldn't allow it to improve its existing processes.

The system managed $15 billion in both natural and man-made assets, meaning the underlying technology needed to be robust.

The utilities provider didn't want to upgrade and tie itself further into a system that was no longer flexible - it wanted a solution that would allow it to rework its existing business processes and operate more efficiently.

So it decided to embark on what it calls a "one in a 15-year opportunity". 

After undertaking an audit of its current environment, Melbourne Waterredefined its operations into seven core processes - maintenance regime, risk management, work order management, the asset register and performance data management.

The water body went to market for a vendor that could deliver an end-to-end, enterprise-wide solution that would replace the legacy asset management system - not with a like-for-like system, but with something that aligned with its seven identified core processes.

Melbourne Water selected the IBM Maximo Asset Management System and opted for Fujitsu as a delivery partner, based on a similar project the firm carried out for Sydney Water.

Thirty disparate onsite systems and databases were then converted into the Maximo solution, with $1 billion in work orders migrated over six months.

Melbourne Water staff undertake around 50,000 maintenance tasks each year, and the utility provider now has visibility of all its assets and related jobs through a single dashboard.

The project culminated in three days of outage prior to Christmas to complete the migration. Melbourne Water was given $22 million in funding for the project, and eventually came in under at $20 million.

It expects to save $70 million in costs over the next 15 years as a result.

“We have richer data and analytics for all our water supply system, rivers such as the Yarra, creeks and sewage treatment plants which means we can fine tune our maintenance regimes and better manage our inventory," IT program director Chris Truscott said.

“If we have scheduled maintenance, we know exactly what parts are needed and can plan accordingly so jobs are completed more quickly and more safely."

The utility is now leveraging the new platform to improve its mobile capabilities by bringing operational systems and asset management processes to field workers.

Its focus to date has been on reducing double-handling of data and paperwork so work orders can be updated in real-time on provided iPads, Truscott said.

Truscott and Melbourne Water are finalists in the Utilities category of the iTnews Benchmark Awards. The winners will be announced at a gala dinner at Melbourne's Grand Hyatt on February 17.

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