IPWEA NZ President and Principal Asset Advisor at Beca, Priyani de Silva-Currie shares her opinion on why Asset Management is such a vital part of our system.
We have progressed as a nation in our skills and experience in core asset management, of this there is undeniable evidence. One could assume that armed with these skills our current and future investment in infrastructure should be rosy. Unfortunately we face a problem: long term underinvestment in our infrastructure has resulted in a reasonably quantified and certainly well known infrastructure investment deficit to contend with. An infrastructure deficit is the difference between the assets we have currently, versus the level of assets we actually need, presently we do not have enough.
Unfortunately we face a problem: long term underinvestment in our infrastructure has resulted in a reasonably quantified and certainly well known infrastructure investment deficit to contend with.
There are many whys for this deficit. Skills shortages to complete works, rising costs in the supply chain, poor allocation and monitoring of operational and capital funds, unrealistic or ambitious work programmes, non accurate asset and performance data, asset lives not meeting design expectations, levels of service and customer demands increasing, the list goes on. All of these external and internal challenges have an available remedy in an asset management world.
A key contributing factor to our predicament is that even today, in 2022, we still observe pockets of poor system leadership that undermine good asset planning. All of the vital technical skills learned in asset management cannot be realised if the commitment and momentum from organisations to incorporate asset management practices into their decisions, as a vital part of their system, isn’t there. Asset Managers need to be better at telling the story within organisations – and a complex story it is. It’s one of opportunity cost, opportunity lost, and the consequences of investment procrastination.
Minister for Transport, the Honorary Michael Wood acknowledged at a recent presentation to a leading consultancy, that Aotearoa has one of the lowest debt levels as a country. This is good in terms of financial position, but also represents this historic systemic underinvestment in many of our infrastructure sectors. Whilst it is good that the newly released national infrastructure strategy to address future investment has been developed, as a nation we are still a long way from even meeting the required investment for our communities to prosper, and it looks like the gap is growing exponentially.
Asset Managers play a big part in developing long term infrastructure strategy, asset management plans, and financial models to ensure that we have the right asset investment approach at the right time.
So I ask all organisational leaders to consider this question: Is your system going to be part of the problem or part of the solution to our infrastructure deficit?