Program of works solver development

Modla and the Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) develop a program of works solver for the water industry

Modla Technologies and the Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) share a common objective to better manage ageing infrastructure through innovation. In character with this goal, this project was created to develop a program of works “solver”, using the Modla asset analytics platform.

The program of works “solver” determines which assets to address as part of a specific program of works. In its simplest form, the output consists of a list of assets and a point in time in which to perform a specific maintenance task or capital intervention. The recommendation considers cost, risk, and any constraint e.g., resource availability imposed upon it by the user. The development of the solver was guided by the following overarching objectives:

• Develop a standard approach to optimisation replacing disjointed spreadsheet solutions.

• Develop a universal program of works solver as defined by the 17 IWN participants.

• Develop a solver that is compatible with other water utility assets.

• Ensure the solution is easily accessible through a web application.

The project scope was to develop a single analytical solver, which is to be tested and validated using an exemplary asset class. Sewer mains were chosen to validate the solver and three utilities namely Gippsland Water, Barwon Water and Melbourne Water participated in the validation.

While the sewer mains model can benefit from additional review and input from industry, it provides a strong base to continue improvement.

Using Gippsland, Melbourne, and Barwon Waters’ data, the results showed a significant overlap in assets identified by the solver and those identified by each utility. The variance in assessment was produced by differences in how the asset was modelled and grouped, as well as company specific rules.

In addition to developing the solver, the project made a significant contribution to the wider industry by developing an open-source sewer mains model. The model can be used to inform other analyses such as a maintenance strategy optimisation, budgeting, and regulatory submissions.

Across industries, results show that optimisation initiatives like this program of works solver, can deliver 5%-10% more value from their portfolios when faced with the same financial constraints, while requiring considerably less resources than a manual prioritisation approach.

This finding highlights the efficiency benefits to be gained by industry if asset knowledge and business processes can be shared. Modla’s vision is to facilitate this sharing of knowledge and fill the need of an enabling platform.

In summary, the project has provided a workable solution for participants to develop optimum programs of work. The asset models of interest can be continually improved, and the participants can produce programs of work in hours, assuming the required input data is available.

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