Global Water Fathom takes a different tack on asset management, believing that for many utilities, especially smaller utilities, off-the-shelf solutions may be too expensive or too difficult to implement.
According to Vice President Jason Bethke, there are about 52,000 water utilities in the United States, most of them small, making it difficult to invest the resources necessary to beneficially deploy an asset management solution. Consequentially, smaller utilities answer this through casual knowledge management as opposed to formal asset management. In principle, the experienced staff convey their knowledge about the utility’s assets to newer hires. But knowledge is easily lost, and prioritization of work is more about intuition than objective analysis.
Fathom contends that its approach gives utilities a faster pathway to the benefits of asset management. Fathom’s Asset Management Solution eliminates the traditional hurdles such as software purchases, implementation phases, configuration with other tools (e.g., GIS) and internal change management, instead delivering this as a cloud-based service with little or no upfront costs.
Fathom’s Asset Management Solution takes advantage of the fact that many asset components within water are common from one utility to another. Take, for example, fire hydrants, many of which come out of a single foundry. The types of work orders that can be created for fire hydrants are common. Applying this same logic to other common asset components such as pipes, valves and pumps, Fathom can streamline the initial implementation for the utility. The tool has over 3,000 routine work orders typical to water utilities. For those situations where there are unique components or needs, Fathom’s solution allows for easy customization.
“This allows us to manage the cost of asset management relative to the benefits a utility receives from asset management,” remarks Bethke. “You can handle changes gradually, as staff adapt to the solution. As a result, you can get to where you want to be, at a much lower upfront cost. This gives small and mid-sized utilities access to tools that are as powerful as those used by the largest utilities in the world.”