Assets were always conceptualized and visualised as point assets like a boiler that is commissioned at a specific location inside an oil and gas plant. Traditional EAM solutions are typically designed for discrete assets. However, Asset Intensive organizations in certain sectors like Oil & Gas, utilities, railways etc have peculiar kinds of assets that span across several kilometres. Such assets typically extend across one physical dimension in space and often connect with other assets through their relationship in their associated linear infrastructure. These are known under the name ‘Linear Assets’.
Linear assets also experience wear and tear, have maintenance strategies associated with it and undergo periodic and corrective maintenance like any other asset during its usage lifecycle. But then, what is the difference in these linear assets which makes it more difficult for traditional EAM solutions. I will try to highlight a few features specific to linear assets.
1. Linear assets span long distances and are divided into segments. Its components or features can frequently change along its length. Linear assets are interconnected with other linear assets to represent an infrastructure network topology. It is important to record and track failures, maintenance and associated costs at the segment level.
2. Use of GIS: Linear assets need data from different sources. GIS is one method to acquire information. Ideally a good system should incorporate both GIS and linear asset management data for visualization on a map view .
3. Dynamic Segmentation – Multiple sets of attributes can be associated with any portion of a linear feature independently of where it begins or ends. Eg: A pipeline may be around 100 kilometres. A few common attributes are as shown below.
|Start point||Start point of liner asset||Distance value in UOM||For point locations, the position along the linear asset is indicated in this field|
|End point||End point of linear asset||Distance value in UOM|
|Length||Length of the linear asset||Length of linear asset in UOM|
|Unit of measure(UOM)||Unit of measure of the linear asset||Miles, Kilometers etc.|
4. Linear Referencing methods- The position of a linear asset could be represented in many ways. Permanent reference locations or markers are used as a reference to describe the exact position of objects and activities/events along the pipeline. These may be absolute positions from the start of a segment or relative positions to a mile post.
5. Linear assets have a longer life. While conducting reliability analysis and studies, data may be sparse and limited to a few segments like a bend in a pipe which is more prone to corrosion and the majority of the segments may not have experienced failures during its operating cycles.
There are several characteristics that are unique to linear assets making it even more difficult to implement and maintain. The need to have a robust EAM solution is imperative to increase asset capability and availability. A low performance at any section of the linear asset can have big impacts on overall throughput.