Water utility companies are under more pressure than ever to improve their overall performance and cost efficiency. The aging system makes it increasingly difficult for water utility companies to provide the services desired by the current customer base. Aging fixed assets equate to increasing operational and servicing costs, resulting in disproportionately high operating costs which must be managed by weakened service capacity. The best way to face this challenge is to introduce best practices through an Integrated Asset Management (IAM) Approach. The overall scope of the Integrated Asset Management Platform provides water utilities with improved management, better services, increased financial benefits, higher creditworthiness, and enhanced compliance and transparency.
Based on a PLGP recommendation and subsequent discussions with the Mayor of Elbasan, the Municipality of Elbasan has agreed to participate in the Integrated Asset Management for Water Utilities in South-Eastern Europe Program which is implemented collaboratively as a strategic alliance, jointly financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the private partner HydroComp (HCE). For Albania, these efforts are coordinated through the hub of the Water Supply and Sewerage Association (SHUKALB).
However, because the Elbasan Water Utility is a considerably large utility for this program’s standard operating procedures, it was agreed that PLGP would provide additional support and capacity building assistance to prepare datasets for the data conversion and evaluations. PLGP will also provide training to additional Elbasan personnel on the use of the software and IAM methodologies, ensuring sustainability of the methodology beyond the life of PLGP’s support.
For the past five months, the PLGP Asset Management experts have been working in tandem with the Elbasan Water Utility technical staff to design a Utility Asset Management Approach, which includes building the asset datasets with proper attributes, transposing all data information into the Asset Management Platform, and operating the Asset Management Software effectively. This process has been monitored daily by the EDAMS’ (Asset Management Software) team using a cloud-based, online platform.
“Moving away from what we are used to doing daily is very difficult, but when the change presented to us increases the benefit of the utility and therefore better service to our clients? Rest assured that we will embrace it and use it to guarantee improvement in all technical, financial, and service aspects of our utility,” said the Technical Director of Elbasan Water Utility, Mr. Doçi.
As a result of this intensive partnership, the main transmission network of the urban area along with approximately 50% of the water supply network served by Elbasan Water utility has been uploaded onto the EDAMS Platform. In parallel, the Elbasan staff is registering all rural systems and Water Supply System GIS data in villages are being converted and uploaded to the EDAMS Platform. This has been very challenging work, as the utility lacks proper water supply system maps, making it quite difficult to locate buried assets throughout the territory of Elbasan Municipality.
More than 170 km of water supply pipes, 3 main reservoirs sites, and 3 main well fields have been uploaded to the EDAMS. The PLGP experts are supporting the water utility’s technical staff to validate this data and will continue to assist them with subsequent issues that may arise during the operation of the EDAMS Platform. The technical staff of the Elbasan utility have shown high levels of motivation and are working together with great passion to fulfill this goal, ensuring that the progress made to this point will continue to move forward.
“Asset Management has been ignored for decades in our Water Sector. Renewing and replacing the nation’s public water infrastructure is an ongoing task. Proper Asset management can help utilities maximize the value of their capital as well as their operations and maintenance costs. Strategic asset management is not necessarily based on the quantity of resources you have, it is more about developing an appropriate plan and implementing streamlined processes and procedures to maximize the investment in those resources.” – Hantin Bonati, Vice Minister of Infrastructure and Energy