Tony O'Hagan - Consulting

Consultancy in asset management

My expertise

Large infrastructure companies, such as railways, water companies and other utilities, typically have many thousands of assets. Managing, maintaining and renewing such a large asset base is challenging. Since the time of the privatisation of the water industry in the UK, I have been providing statistical consultancy on development of asset management plans. I created the software package ABLE through a contract with eight different water companies. I have since been involved in applications to railways, and in extending the aproach to whole-life costing.

My clients

In the UK water industry, I have worked for most of the 'big ten' water and sewerage companies, including Thames Water, Anglian Water, Yorkshire Water and South West Water, as well as some of the smaller companies. I have also worked for Railtrack, the London Underground and other railway operators, and alongside major engineering management consultancies such as W S Atkins, Kellogg Brown & Root and MWH. My work on the ESTEEM project at London Underground has helped them to win a prestigious award for innovation in asset management.

Typical challenges

The kind of asset management planning that I have been involved with concerns estimating the need for (and the cost of) maintenance, renewal and replacement of large systems of physical assets. For companies with large infrastucture of this kind, the development of an asset management plan is an expensive and time-consuming task. To get a high quality assessment of the investment need for a single asset can cost thousands of pounds, so to do this for many thousands of assets in impractical. The usual approach is to carry out detailed studies of this kind on just a sample of assets. Nevertheless, the high variability between assets means that quite large samples are needed to achieve any kind of accurate planning. The ABLE approach entails the combination of a few high-quality studies with many lower-level judgements. It is a very flexible framework, and can produce great reductions in the number of detailed studies required. As the original developer of this approach and its most experienced practitioner, I can offer a unique level of expertise.

A familiar challenge in deciding on asset management strategies is to judge the impact of different intensities of maintenance on reducing asset failures. If, for instance, a water company were to replace 10% of its water mains, how much would this reduce the incidence of burst mains? The answer clearly depends on how well they can target their replacements at the pipes most likely to fail in the near future, and this is itself a major challenge. I have developed methods to estimate failure rates of assets, identify optimal selections of assets for improvement, and quantify the resultant improvement in performance. The Bayesian methods involved represent a unique and powerful approach to these challenges.

I am happy to consult on these or other problems in asset management planning.

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Updated: 18 January2017
Maintained by: Tony O'Hagan