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Tauranga City Council's asset planning: From Spreadsheet to Enterprise System

Cucumber’s Craig Cleary talks about his amazing journey implementing enterprise asset planning software at Tauranga City Council

Four years ago Cucumber was invited to help Tauranga City Council (TCC) implement asset modelling software. Councils are asset-intensive organisations that use their wide portfolio to deliver services to citizens including parks, property, roading and “3 waters” (water supply, waste water and storm water). As well as delivering important services, they also need to plan to replace or upgrade assets many years in advance and determine their costs and funding – all the while balancing risk, criticality, and optimal timing of expenditure.

Whilst managing existing assets is usually done with well-established enterprise systems, the future planning activities have traditionally been done in humble Excel, despite this representing millions of dollars in investments. TCC was no different, but they had a vision to take their asset planning processes to another level – enter Riva (now called Powerplan Asset Investment Optimization Suite).

Riva’s software had been purchased alongside TCC’s asset management solution Accela, the master system for storing asset data. Riva was purchased for some critical actions: calculating asset depreciation, planning for asset replacement and valuation.

Riva was partially implemented but wasn’t in a usable state when Cucumber came in. Rather than trying to solve everything at once, Craig decided to take a progressive approach. The first step was setting up integration and modelling of the simpler aspects, replacement of parks and property assets based on age and condition.

Once this was bedded down and the solution stabilised, the team moved to the 3 waters assets which represented a major increase in volume and complexity involving the integration of CCTV data for pipes which calculated the current condition based on data. A new modelling strategy was also implemented to determine when to replace or rehabilitate assets, yet still allowed human intervention when an asset planner knew best.

Since then, Cucumber continually evolved the solution which has included:

  • Several upgrades to the software
  • Getting asset data from a data warehouse rather than directly from Accela
  • Reworking CCTV calculations to include replace/fix recommendations
  • The ability to differentiate between upgrades and replacements
  • Building in modelling and research done by industry experts on failure of certain pipe materials

What this four year journey has brought to TCC:

  • A consistent replicable model which is updated constantly – freedom from setting up spreadsheets every 3 years and extracting and producing data that is immediately out of date
  • A model that spans a full life cycle replacement of each asset, not just the next replacement
  • Transparency; we can see what it’s doing and why with nothing hidden in the bowels of a spreadsheet
  • A model that can and is constantly improved to produce better results which are based on new learnings and local knowledge about asset longevity without relying on inaccurate estimations
  • The ability for valuers to do their 3 yearly valuation based on system rules rather than writing complex queries

So where to next?

This has proven so successful that the journey of constant improvement will continue with:

  • Another upgrade to further improve performance using calculations from over 50 years of modelling
  • The addition of the transportation assets from RAMM (road assessment and maintenance management) via the data warehouse
  • Delivering dashboards to enable asset managers to see not only the current state but also the future profile

TCC has been the first council in New Zealand to implement this type of modelling solution and use it on an ongoing basis, and their data future looks bright. These actions have truly demonstrated that the harnessing of data to inform future actions is creating increased efficiency and accuracy for its staff.

For more information on how Cucumber’s team can help create efficiencies with your organisation, get in touch.