Capital Improvement Programs

Capital improvement programs (CIPs) are notoriously in service of squeaky wheels. Whatever makes the most noise gets funding, right?

That approach often doesn't serve the interests of the agency or its clients. Sometimes, critical system elements quietly go belly-up, then have to be funded through expensive capitalization. When this happens, communities often lose their ability to adapt and begin a decades-long service to debt financing.

Better to evaluate the risk to the community or utility for each project, then prioritize the projects for funding from highest risk to lowest risk. This reveals what projects need funding and when. As a result, agencies can set aside money and staffing resources in anticipation of large needs.

That's exactly what we do with RD/CIP, our proprietary CIP development software. RD/CIP allows agencies to build realistic project costs and timelines, prioritizes projects based on their modeled risk to the community. It also treats project cost, risk, and time as dynamic elements.

  • Project risk of failure increases if a project isn't funded by deadlines.

  • Project costs increase with an annual inflation rate or set of rates, avoiding the mistake of putting projects on the street based on out-of-date cost estimates.

Have you got a CIP that keeps funding the easy projects (even while important system elements reach the end of their service life)? If you want to implement an intelligent, systematic, and transparent approach to CIP prioritization, give us a call about licensing RD/CIP to provide ongoing CIP development.


Computerized Maintenance Management systems

Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMSs) can iron out maintenance challenges by focusing maintenance effort on proactive activities, rather than reactive ones. But the real payoff for the considerable effort involved in transitioning to a CMMS lies in developing a logic that attacks the issues with the highest risk of failure first.

Ewers Engineering has developed a failure risk-based CMMS logic for flexible implementation across a range of platforms that permits maintenance effort through the full range of proactive maintenance practices: Reactive, preventive, predictive, reliability-centered.

No matter what phase your CMMS development is in, we develop the CMMS into a flexible, transparent system capable of preventive, predictive, and reliability-centered maintenance activities at multiple sites.

This is a good time to undertake CMMS development because GIS-based CMMS has become a flexible commodity that can be developed with much less expense and more capability than was available as little as five years ago.

If your agency is developing the base data for a CMMS, consider maximizing the effectiveness of the result at this transition period. This is a time- and labor-intensive process. If it is structured well, this initial effort can develop a CMMS that can not only produce work orders and track completions, critical parts and supplies, and labor, but can be used to develop the data necessary for effective predictive maintenance practices like oil assessment, thermography, and vibration monitoring that can significantly extend the lifespan of large capital-intensive facilities. In addition, as operations and maintenance staff develop their skills with these advanced maintenance practices, staff culture of improvement tends to increase.

Storm Pumps
Crushed Float

Decision Support Services

Recently, we got a great question from a maintenance supervisor: Should maintenance (including condition assessment) be skipped in favor of simply replacing a pipeline? The prospect of spending tens of thousands of dollars in maintenance on a pipeline that is well into its service life for much of its length is daunting. So is raising millions of dollars to replace the line and managing its replacement.

The same questions could then be posed for all large capital assets: “Why keep them? When should they just be replaced?”

The decision whether or not to retain a large capital asset depends on multiple, sometimes-competing objectives. Our detailed, realistic failure risk models establish a clear path to understanding the benefit of complex capital assets throughout their life cycles. Our work develops decision support tools that provide repeatable, transparent, flexible, and systematic bases for decision-making around large capital asset life cycle investments. Their mathematical models allows us to provide graphical expression of risks, consequences, benefits, and failure likelihoods in maps, graphs, and logic diagrams for easy communication with boards of directors with a range of technical expertise.

We strive to provide simple, easily calculated formulas that can yield (and have yielded) graphical, mapped results. They are oriented to answer these deceptively simple questions:

When should a pipeline asset be removed from service?

What is the maximum annual budget for maintenance activities, including condition assessment?

What is the optimum option for any particular capital asset: repair, replacement, rehabilitation, or refrain (do nothing)?

If you're asking the same questions or think that someone is going to ask these questions soon, consider developing a risk model as the first step to building a decision support tool.