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Asset Management is the future of construction


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April 1, 2015 by David Bowcott

Asset Management! In past columns, I’ve referred to the concept of Asset Management and how a growing number of owners are more thoughtfully planning the implementation and interaction of all phases of their assets’ lives to optimize asset performance.

Asset Management has always been around. In the past two decades, though, the concept has begun to organize itself globally through the sharing of best practices and the development of standards which are bringing consistency to Asset Management implementation.

For a concept to truly take hold in today’s global economy, a “meeting place,” so to speak, is often necessary. This is where practitioners can share ideas, experiences, and best practices and grow their knowledge.

One of the key Asset Management meeting places appears to be the Institute of Asset Management (IAM), founded in the United Kingdom in 1994. The mission of IAM is “…to advance for the public benefit the science and practice of asset management.” For just over 20 years, IAM has been helping its members develop and apply Asset Management knowledge, best practices and standards.

Its membership includes owners from all walks of life – both governments and private-industry sectors including power, mining, energy, manufacturing, real estate, and several others. While there are several Asset Management associations out there, none seems to unite all practitioners of Asset Management – from all segments of the economy – quite like IAM.

As of January 2015, the Canadian Chapter of IAM is up and running. They are hosting several kick-off sessions across Canada in 2015 to help unite Canadian IAM members. In addition, it is their hope that these sessions will encourage others to join IAM and participate in discussions aimed at trying to build and operate perfect assets for our Canadian economy. The IAM website provides details on these events – see https://theiam.org/events/listing.

So why might Asset Management be the future of construction? Well, it could be that construction expertise is in fact the future of Asset Management. It is a simple concept – construction contractors have borne, and continue to bear, significant risk with regards to the performance of the assets they help build, and in some cases help to maintain and operate.

When you bear risk, you become keenly aware of the potential impact risk can have on your project. As a result, you strive to uncover the best ways to manage all the risks you bear. Owning the risk has left several contractors with significant battle scars. The knowledge those battle scars represents is only now being tapped by owners to build assets with lifecycle performance certainty.

If an owner had five power plants and hired a design firm and a contractor to build each plant, does that owner really possess the full knowledge on how to best build and operate its assets? What if there is a contractor out there that has built over 100 power plants? That contractor has had to deal with the asset’s construction phase risks and the operational phase risks (via warranty), and therefore might possess knowledge that could be very helpful to that power-plant owner as he manages his portfolio of assets.

That, in a nutshell, represents the opportunity now facing the construction industry – could the construction contractor community engage more fulsomely with the owner community to build better assets? At the firm I work for, it appears that this is a direction that more and more owners are heading in. Based on the data we possess, it is becoming clear that owners that integrate more thoughtfully with the construction community tend to have assets that perform with greater performance certainty through the design, build, and operations phases.

I highly encourage you to learn more about the concept of Asset Management and see how this trend could help you create greater value for your customer base. There is tremendous potential in this space and some owners are shedding their traditional methodologies to pursue new procurement strategies that optimize the return on their asset investments.

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David Bowcott is senior vice-president, national director of Large/Strategic Accounts at AON Reed Stenhouse Inc. Send comments to editor@on-sitemag.com.


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