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Linear Asset Management and Dynamic Segmentation- Part I

Traditional Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems always treated assets as point assets. Plant equipment, Fleets, IT assets you name it, they are all point assets and have self-sufficient programs available within most of the EAM packages to take care of their maintenance requirements. So what's the fuss about linear assets then?

Assets like railroad, gas pipelines etc. have characteristics which are associated to its length and may differ throughout its course. Moreover, locating a work area; tracking the work history; asset to asset/location relations etc. are always a limitation with point asset management process. Let us consider a case of railroad section spanning miles and crossing state boundaries.  As we traverse through the length of rail road section, we can observe that specification of these sections changes, for example, speed limit for a section of rail changes on gradients or rail crossing; a section with curve has an angle of banking which is unique to the extent of curvature; a section with crossing/frog/ turnouts has different characteristics etc. All these changes within one single asset definitely require a different maintenance approach.

Maintenance operations like track inspections, gauging, track replacement etc. requires the planners to exactly locate the problem area section so that the crew can be dispatched accordingly. Work on the sections also have dependencies on other related assets like level crossings, underground culvert etc. and it is necessary to relationally capture them for better planning of work. This is because work on the principal asset can impact the dependent assets. Hierarchical relations seldom worked with Linear Assets as it meant breaking down of assets into multiple smaller assets to facilitate the parent child relationship. With no single location able to contain a linear asset, the location specific tracking also failed. Questions arose- how do we have these different specification captured? How to locate when there is no specific location information? Having no provision to create relationship within a particular segment of asset, how to define dependencies? The need was clear, a generalized view of assets as point assets had to change.

The questions are many but the concept of Dynamic Segmentation is the ultimate answer; it helps the maintenance planners to segment an asset into logical portions without impacting the underlying geometry of the Asset. Once the segments are identified, pinpointing the problem area and planning the work becomes easy. In the next part on this blog, through relevant examples, we will see how IBM Maximo deals with linear assets and in particular cater to concept of dynamic segmentation.

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