MWRA's Facilities Asset Management Program: Phase I

EP Editorial Staff | September 2, 2002

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) is nearing completion of Phase I of its Facilities Asset Management Program (FAMP) for the Deer Island Treatment Plant (DITP) and related field operations facilities to plan, manage, and coordinate the engineering, maintenance, operation, and financing required to maintain these facilities to regulatory requirements. FAMP has two objectives:

  • Cost effectively replace the less durable capital components of the facilities at the appropriate time to ensure reliable plant operation and preserve the value of the original investment
  • Prolong the equipment life and control the rate of replacement (i.e., avoid large spending spikes for consolidated retrofit or rehabilitation projects)

The Authority has initiated this project to develop the most efficient strategy to integrate maintenance, operations, and engineering activities to support the FAMP objectives.

In order to implement the FAMP objectives, standardized maintenance management practices had to be developed. Uniform maintenance information management and condition monitoring capabilities were reviewed and selected for DITP and its related facilities.

RCM Review ProcessBackground
The MWRA is responsible for providing wholesale water and sewerage services, in whole or in part, to 61 communities and 2.6 million people. In addition to its operating responsibilities, MWRA is responsible for rehabilitating, repairing, and maintaining the regional water and sewerage systems. Since its assumption of the ownership and operations of the systems in 1985, MWRA has undertaken an ambitious program of capital improvements to the systems, with estimated expenditures for fiscal years 1986 through 2009 of more than $7 billion.


Given the significant value and critical nature of the assets for which MWRA is responsible, effective maintenance of the systems is of paramount importance. The Facilities Asset Management Program (FAMP) is a comprehensive, agency-wide effort to most efficiently and effectively manage the region’s water and sewer infrastructure.

Upon completion of the construction and startup of DITP, the nation’s second largest wastewater treatment plant, the MWRA assumed responsibility of approximately $2 billion in assets (construction value $3.5 billion) to maintain. In addition the agency had embarked on other large capital projects that would require similar asset care including a new water filtration plant.

Maintenance recommendations were provided by the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and were required to sustain warranty requirements. These OEM recommendations were calendar-based preventive maintenance (PM) tasks somewhat conservative in nature (worst case scenario) and not operation-specific.

As the warranty periods came to a close and some equipment failures became evident, the staff began strategic planning for an equipment replacement program to replace equipment in an organized and cost-effective manner to avoid large spending spikes from capital projects.

In addition to the equipment replacement program, replacement and maintenance of nonequipment assets (utilities, roofs, storage tanks, etc.) also will be addressed in Phase II of the FAMP initiative.

Management structure organization
As one of the agency’s top priorities, the FAMP initiative was intended to be implemented across all operating divisions. An organization structure composed of a steering committee, project team, and implementation teams was developed .

The groups comprised a good mix of staff from the operating divisions including senior management, union leaders, procurement, and engineering, along with maintenance trades, operators, and consultant support. This team approach was needed to effectively create change and staff buy-in.

In the beginning of Phase I, regular weekly meetings were held to facilitate the project schedule and monthly steering committee meetings were held to communicate progress and program direction.

A communication plan was developed where regular presentations are conducted (to date more than 850 people or 57 percent of the staff have received some level of project briefing) and a combination of newsletter articles and all-staff memorandum are distributed. In addition, status posters are strategically displayed throughout the facility for staff and visitors. The adoption of a communication plan has supported the culture change and conveyed to staff that senior management is committed to the project.

Phase I scope and status
In order to facilitate the Phase I program and obtain expertise in the area of asset management, a consultant was selected to support Authority staff. The Phase I work was broken down into four tasks: inventory and evaluation, condition monitoring, CMMS survey, and maintenance optimization pilot study.

Inventory/evaluation. This task included gathering technical data (nameplate data, technical data, and supplier information) for 18 wastewater facilities comprising more than 3800 pieces of mechanical, electrical, and instrumentation equipment. Tagging equipment with a unique numbering system (consistent within the MWRA) also was included in this task. Temporary tags were installed initially and correct nomenclature verified prior to ordering and installing permanent tags. This task was completed with a mixed crew of MWRA and consultant staff.

The traditional method of gathering data on paper forms was eliminated which facilitated the work and helped to meet the schedule for data input into the new CMMS. Palm-based handheld units were employed and proved to be a cost-effective alternative. The reasonably priced units were programmed to accept all the required data and automatically generate the correct tag name. In addition, the correct permanent tag size (3 or 4 in.) and type (no hole, one hole, or two holes) were also identified by design for ease of ordering.

During the inventory/tagging exercise, the team conducted a cursory overview of the equipment’s condition (visual, audible, and discussions with facility staff) and summarized the general condition findings in a detailed report. The report categorized the condition into predefined categories: excellent, good, poor, temporary, and failed. This information has been fed into the corrective action planning and budgeting process.

The Authority selected MAXIMO from MRO Software, Bedford, MA, as its computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Although DITP began using the system in 1995, the field operations department only began using it in March 2001. The use of the handhelds for data collection allowed the team to electronically load the newly collected technical data into the CMMS ahead of schedule.

In a concurrent effort, a MAXIMO Steering Committee facilitated the software standardization effort. Policies and procedures are being shared between operating divisions and has resulted in quality data and consistent reporting.

Condition monitoring. The Authority recognized that the project’s maintenance optimization process and subsequent plant-wide maintenance optimization programs would result in predictive maintenance tasks, including vibration analysis. In an effort to support these tasks, the MWRA is installing permanent vibration analysis equipment as one leg of its predictive maintenance program.

Other predictive maintenance programs currently in use include infrared inspection, oil analysis, and a vibration analysis service contract. The review and enhancement of these and other predictive maintenance programs is being conducted under Phase II of the project.

In Phase I, the MWRA identified 70 pieces of rotating equipment as critical or of sufficient capital cost to warrant dedicated permanent vibration monitoring equipment. The list of equipment includes both DITP and field operations (remote collection system facilities) such as pumps, motors, compressors, and turbines.

Currently the new condition monitoring system is in the final stages of design and equipment installation is anticipated to begin in early 2003. Upon completion of the construction phase, vibration analysis training and establishment of baseline vibration signatures will be conducted.

An accurate and maintained CMMS is an essential component of a successful asset management program. The Work Coordination Group uses the CMMS to manage all aspects of the Deer Island maintenance program. It is used for work order management, preventive maintenance, the equipment database, planning and scheduling, asset management, recording maintenance costs, and generating reports.

CMMS survey. The objective of the survey of DITP’s CMMS (was to determine the status of data quality, present utilization, and suitability to support a maintenance optimization process.

A review was conducted on all equipment data stored in the system for the 1250 pieces of equipment in Primary Clarifier Battery “A” pilot area. The equipment data was compared and reconciled with the source data (the equipment nameplate/specification information provided by project contractors and their suppliers as part of the construction turnover requirements) to evaluate the quality, completeness, and accuracy of the data. The data modules surveyed included equipment, inventory, preventive maintenance, and work orders.

Additionally, the CMMS data and source data were compared to the hard copies of all data located in the Deer Island Technical Information Center (TIC). The review required a cross-reference and included reviewing documentation such as vendor manuals, drawings, relevant process and instrumentation diagrams (P&ID), and some field verification.

The project also included a review to determine the degree to which the CMMS system was being utilized and identified areas where it was under- or overutilized. The review included the utilization of all program functions:

  • Cross links to inventory
  • Performance reporting metrics—identified unnecessary or ineffective maintenance reports and unused or underutilized performance reporting features
  • Appropriate performance metrics to be monitored by various levels in the management, maintenance, engineering, operations, and budget departments
  • Existing CMMS procedures including staff interviews regarding use and quality of equipment data and database performance
  • Adherence and proficiency of labor and material charges to the appropriate equipment tag

A detailed report was created where deficient or substandard data and CMMS utilization was documented including detailed recommendations and a complete corrective action plan.

The survey completed an audit of Primary Battery “A.” Examples of areas needing improvement include the following:

  • Missing equipment—The CMMS lists 1247 equipment items for Primary Battery “A”; however, the DITP technical library actually has equipment data on 1646 items, a 32 percent difference. Conversely, 100 pieces of equipment in the CMMS were not in the Deer Island technical library. While the differences generally did not involve major equipment, it did include certain valves, pumps, and instrumentation. The omission of data could possibly result in equipment not receiving the proper preventive maintenance.
  • Missing equipment data— Incomplete equipment data was originally supplied as part of system turnover. A typical Equipment Data form (called a “1080” Form) has approximately 30 data entry fields. Some of the data is obviously more critical than others. However, for the 1247 pieces of equipment reviewed, the manufacturer’s name was not provided for 313 items, the installation date was not provided for 327 items, and the installation cost and replacement cost was not provided for any of the equipment items. Omission of this cost data impedes life cycle costing to be determined in an effort to predict future capital expenditures and using the CMMS to its full capabilities.
  • Tagging and equipment hierarchy—196 equipment items had conflicting tag names or hierarchy. An accurate equipment hierarchy allows maintenance costs to be allocated to the individual areas. Reports then can be generated to highlight which equipment, system, or plant areas required the most maintenance resources.

A corrective action plan has begun to fix equipment data. The audit will ensure that the information triangle is complete, and will include comparing and updating installed equipment nameplate data, CMMS data, and the equipment technical library information. Although the final plan has not been formulated, an extensive time commitment is expected so strategic, cost-effective methods will be investigated.

Administrative review—The report recommends the development of comprehensive maintenance policies and procedures to ensure the highest level of data quality to support a strong asset management program. This data is converted into useful information assisting in making accurate and timely maintenance decisions. These procedures would include maintenance planning workflow, CMMS database quality assurance, and procedures to formalize changes to the CMMS equipment, job plans, and preventive maintenance databases, as well as a link to technical documentation.

Procedures to formalize the maintenance program are in various stages of development and use. The procedures developed under this task will be used Authority-wide to ensure a consistent approach for all maintenance activities. These procedures include equipment replacement/maintenance configuration control and workflow process procedures. A Work Planning Desk Guide has been completed and is in use at Deer Island and being reviewed for use throughout the MWRA. In addition, maintenance performance metrics are being developed for a facility asset management program that focus on reliability based maintenance.

CMMS programming changes—Deer Island currently uses approximately two-thirds of the capability of the CMMS system which, reportedly, is the case with most other maintenance organizations. Additional utilization of specific modules and programming enhancements were recommended. Programming changes are in the process of being implemented to increase CMMS functionality. These improvements include interfaces with other applications, modifications to data entry features, and the use of specific dialog boxes for warnings and instructions.

Training—Specific training guidelines were provided to ensure the procedures and the CMMS are used correctly. Training is to be provided to all personnel for maintenance procedures. Development of a formalized training program is in progress and will support the current cross-functional training program as well as enhance the widespread use of the CMMS throughout the MWRA.

Maintenance optimization study. In an effort to optimize agency-wide maintenance efforts, various maintenance optimization strategies required evaluation. The selected strategy, Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM), was included in a pilot study on DITP’s Primary Clarifier Battery “A” equipment.

The pilot has been completed with favorable results and RCM has been adopted throughout the MWRA.

DITP currently uses calendar-based preventive maintenance. All the equipment maintenance tasks and frequencies were provided by the OEMs and their representatives as part of the Boston Harbor Project. A review of various industry-wide maintenance optimization strategies (i.e., Total Productive Maintenance and Reliability Centered Maintenance) was conducted to gain efficiency of maintenance resources while maintaining or increasing plant reliability. The maintenance strategies were evaluated for:

  1. Ability to establish or revise maintenance tasks (preventive, predictive, and proactive) based on the technical basis established for each equipment maintenance task, the clear cost benefit established for each equipment maintenance task, and maintenance practices established for equipment individually based on its specific application in the plant (i.e., its criticality to the plant or system process and the consequences of failure).
  2. Ability to reduce overall maintenance man-hours (emergency, corrective, preventive) and maintenance material costs with no decrease in plant reliability.
  3. Ability to identify hidden failures in plant systems or equipment.
  4. Ability to establish mean time to repair (MTTR) and mean time between failure (MTBF) for equipment.
  5. Ability to extend the useful life of the equipment or plant systems as a whole.
  6. Ability to establish technical replacement criteria for equipment and/or systems.
  7. Ability to provide feedback to the Facility Asset Management Program to aid in the planning for equipment replacement.
  8. Ability to work in conjunction with, support, or be integrated with the various equipment lifecycle methods evaluated.
  9. Estimated cost of implementation (estimated time and effort of consultant and Authority staff) for each maintenance strategy compared with the estimated maintenance savings (manpower, materials, extended equipment life, etc.) for its respective strategy.
  10. Ability to address and improve DITP maintenance metric benchmarks.

RCM was selected for the pilot program because it was capable of answering many of the questions and concerns posed above including the review of impacts to safety and the environment. Over all RCM was able to meet the MWRA’s main objective— gain efficiency of maintenance resources while maintaining or increasing plant reliability.

Twelve pre-selected systems were identified within an area of the plant (a cross section of equipment located in the Primary Clarifier Battery “A” area) where the use of RCM methodology was piloted and performance metrics compared to adjacent equipment (which use OEM-based PM tasks and frequencies) for a six-month period.

RCM is a structured process where operations and maintenance staff jointly recommend the most appropriate maintenance requirements (including tasks, frequencies, and trades) of a physical asset as it is operated at Deer Island. History has shown that the vendor’s PM recommendations tend to be conservative and do not always adjust for varying operating scenarios (i.e., does the pump run continuously for 24 hr or cycle on-off every 40 min., etc).

Presently the RCM pilot program has completed implementation of the 22 system reviews using the RCM process and monitoring of results continues.

The pilot results to date include a decrease in preventive maintenance (PM) hours (25 percent reduction in labor hours) and a 10 percent decrease in corrective maintenance (CM). While the results to date are preliminary and somewhat narrowly focused, they are encouraging.

The vast majority of operations and maintenance staff who were resistant to the RCM approach at the outset have since changed their minds, citing a variety of reasons including improved knowledge of the system and greater participation in the decision making process. RCM promises to be an integral part of MWRA’s ongoing effort to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness, and optimally maintain the assets under its stewardship.

The maintenance strategy review also included the following benchmarking activities:

  • A telephone survey included results of discussions with six large facilities (five public utilities supplying water and wastewater services in a manner broadly equivalent to the MWRA operation, and a steel mill that is striving to be at the forefront of asset management/maintenance management technology). The survey questions addressed business strategy, organizational structure, roles and responsibilities, maintenance strategy, work orders, maintenance management systems, asset management policies, maintenance staffing, procurement, and warehousing.

    The results show that, in general, the unionized and public (utility) facilities have further to go to achieve world-class asset management when compared to private, nonunion counterparts. Even the private facility acknowledges that there are opportunities to improve and that their benchmarking has shown that world-class operations often have pockets of excellence and areas of relative weakness.

  • Two site visits at other facilities were conducted to observe and investigate any implemented (in progress) maintenance optimization strategies/programs considered for the FAMP project.

The timing of the site visits was perfect and a turning point for the project because it confirmed the use of RCM as a viable PM methodology, confirmed the need for a comprehensive condition monitoring program, helped set the roadmap for future activities, served as a workshop empowering staff to consolidate the valuable lessons learned by others and add them to the recipe as ingredients for a successful program, and showed that a company has achieved world-class status utilizing these maintenance tools and techniques.

We learned a number of lessons including:

  • Treat the program as a capital project (dedicated staff, schedule with milestones, involvement from all business functions)
  • The CMMS must be populated with accurate data
  • RCM is a good PM tool and can build a strong operations and maintenance workforce
  • There is a need for executive sponsorship and a communication plan to effect culture change
  • There are many spokes to the asset management wheel.

In addition to review and selection of RCM as the maintenance optimization strategy, an equipment replacement strategy also required consideration. A report was prepared presenting a detailed review of equipment lifecycle terminology, site-specific capital planning alternatives, and specific recommendations and an action plan to help optimize the capital planning program and equipment replacement process. The report also focused on short- and long-term planning, review, and comment on MWRA’s lifecycle cost analysis (LCCA) model and reviewed both private and public sector approaches. Further review and implementation of the various recommendations will assist in the timely planning and budgeting of capital equipment replacement.

Future steps and phases
The asset management program is one of continuous improvement and is often quoted as “it is a journey, not a destination.” It is a multi-phase program and we have initiated the second phase. The Phase II program will implement recommendations from the Phase I project including items such as implementation of maintenance business strategies, formalization of MWRA maintenance business practices, establishment of priorities for further RCM analyses, review of opportunities to further optimize the benefits of the CMMS, and recommendations for additional condition monitoring/predictive maintenance approaches for various types of MWRA equipment.

Some basic elements will remain in place to maintain the momentum to continue with a successful program:

  • Regular staff briefings
  • Team building
  • Agency-wide coordination
  • Communication plans
  • Intranet site development
  • Industry-wide benchmarking
  • Maintenance performance monitoring

The success of a comprehensive asset management program requires careful planning and a commitment of resources—a difficult task with pressures of normal workloads and competing corporate initiatives. Executive sponsorship and continuous communication at all organizational levels can facilitate the change required to maintain a successful asset management program. MT




View Comments

Sign up for insights, trends, & developments in
  • Machinery Solutions
  • Maintenance & Reliability Solutions
  • Energy Efficiency
Return to top