The current digital transformation fever flooding the water sector is becoming a tsunami that, if we are not clear on how to approach it, can lead us into territories that are quite complex to govern. Integrated water cycle management involves not only management processes, customer service and commercial activities, finance and HR, but also a large component of industrial process management. We collect water, transfer, filter, treat, distribute and purify it through processes that have to be properly governed.
In the operation and maintenance process environment, digitisation is a fact of life; for years now, we have had 90% of the signals we need in our SCADA systems and information from our assets in a CMMS. We can always go further by intelligently sensing our processes, thus facilitating the application of artificial intelligence techniques to our operational systems, but the actual virtualisation of our most critical systems is a fact. In this sense, the application of the so-called digital transformation can be understood as the direction of our management towards Advanced Industry, an evolution of the Industry 4.0 concept that prevails in the market.
In this framework, in order to properly manage the life cycle of our assets, I see the need for a paradigm shift, the evolution of the concept of physical assets towards the concept of operational digital assets (DAO). When we talk about the DAO, we are not referring to a digital asset in the IT environment (documents, audio, images...), but to the virtual representation of an operational asset, twin of the physical asset, which must be created, maintained and managed at the same time and with even more intensity than the usual physical asset.
If in the management of a traditional asset we pay attention to mechanical, electrical or physical variables that condition its MTBF, maintainability, criticality or obsolescence, the management of DAO assets must be focused on their usefulness for the organisation as a source of data generation, the management of their quality and their governance in an advanced management environment through Operational Intelligence (Oi) techniques.
Proper DAO asset management will provide a source of information of immense value, not only for maximising the lifecycle of the organisation's current assets but also for future ones
The management of DAO must be governed from the systematic of an operational intelligence focused on the operation of data. DAO management must be governed by systematic operational intelligence focused on the operation and analysis of data that allows us to make decisions on operations as they are generated or collected in monitoring systems. Focused on continuous real-time monitoring of business processes and operations and assisting in the optimisation of those ongoing activities and processes, it will enable us to identify and detect undesirable situations in assets that could correspond to disruptions, failures or bottlenecks in day-to-day operations. The iO model must be supported by a coherent and robust infrastructure for the analysis of data from the operation of our assets, including a SCADA system aimed at obtaining defined metrics and KPIs for operations and processes in real time, a specialised environment for the machine learning analysis of operational data and a coherent automation and cybersecurity model.
Proper DAO asset management will provide a source of information of immense value, not only for maximising the lifecycle of the organisation's current assets but also for future ones. Used as a basis for the necessary evolution of operational intelligence towards advanced systems for project management, operation and maintenance with BIM methodology, asset information management and AIM, operational digital twin and advanced predictive and prescriptive analysis techniques, they present us with an exciting future that will allow us to achieve optimal management of our assets and the desired operational excellence.