Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)In Asset Management

Overview

Geographic information systems (GIS) technology plays a very important role in the field of asset management. It’s so important that many EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) systems come with built-in GIS extensions.

For utility companies, providing high-quality service is priority number one. These companies also tend to have a very high number of assets (vehicles, meters, towers, just to name a few). Asset managers want to minimize the cost of owning and operating their assets while maintaining the quality of their service.

Workorder management (which entails the repair, maintenance, and operations of the physical asset) is integrated with GIS spatial data. Work orders are generated in response to an incident or derived from a routine maintenance schedule (e.g Preventive Maintenance).

Visualizing work orders on a map has many benefits. Asset managers use work order clusters to assign available manpower to areas with high demands. They also use GIS routing capabilities to minimize travel time. It’s also possible to monitor the health of assets by analyzing their maintenance reports.

And there’s thematic mapping. Spatially viewing assets based on same/similar attributes. EAMs, like Maximo, use failure codes to identify problems, causes, and remedies on assets. Thematic mapping of problems/causes may identify clusters that require further investigation.

ESRI’s ArcMap

ESRI’s ArcMap can be integrated with many EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) systems. The integration allows a seamless flow of information between GIS and EAMs to help asset managers make data-driven decisions. This in turn helps organizations save time and money by making informed decisions.

Before implementing a GIS-based asset management system, the city of Fort Worth used traditional paper-based systems to track assets. This made it difficult to keep accurate asset inventory as well as keep up with their repairs. Fort Worth has a population of over 895,000.

The implemented new system provides one-point access to the city assets. Field workers can now use mobile devices to view and markup assets, eliminating the need for 1000s of paper maps every year. The markups can be shared with other field workers or office staff, improving communication.

Implementing GIS-based asset management has helped the city save money, eliminate data entry backlog, and most importantly, prioritize projects. According to the city officials, decisions are no longer based on intuitions and experiences. Now they are data-driven.

Other GIS Software

Many utility companies use software other than ESRI’s for their asset management needs. Their choices are could be on the application’s unique features, the company’s legacy data, or even budgetary constraints.

GE’s SmallWorld has a unique network connectivity model making it the natural choice for many utility companies. Companies like Xcel Energy, the 2018 Dive Utility Award winner. Xcel Energy serves more than 3 million customers across 8 states. It uses SmallWorld GIS for asset management.

QGIS, the free open-source GIS software is increasingly becoming the application of choice for utility managers in small communities and those with limited resources. It provides asset management solutions that are low cost, easy to implement, and unique to their needs.

Conclusion

Asset managers are leveraging GIS technology to keep their assets operational and services flowing. From tracking repair history to prioritizing where assets need replacement (both complete assets and spare parts) to tracking vehicle fleet using their GPS locations. A win-win situation both in terms of keeping their customers happy and saving their companies money.

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Former GIS Analyst in Oil and Gas industry turned Copywriter.

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Ally Fumo

Ally Fumo

Former GIS Analyst in Oil and Gas industry turned Copywriter.

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