Public infrastructures maintenance is a complex subject with multiple issues at stake. At the crossroads of public policies, relations between administrations and budgetary constraints, it is too often neglected in favor of investment in new equipment.
Today, next-gen CMMS solutions (Computerized Maintenance Management System) enable local authorities and public sector administrations to take up this subject in order to considerably improve public infrastructures maintenance for which they are responsible, at a reduced cost.
Public infrastructures maintenance challenges
The maintenance of public infrastructure involves major issues, from economic attractiveness to user safety issues, not to mention the logistical organization of the people involved.
Why is public infrastructures maintenance a neglected subject
The serious lack of maintenance of many French public infrastructures was once again discussed following the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy. While the inadequate maintenance of the railway networks is well known, some hospitals are also in poor condition, and the availability rates of nuclear power plants are insufficient, to name but a few examples. As a result, many infrastructures managed by the public sector are reaching the end of their lifecycle and accidents are on the increase.
If the causes are partly political, they are also to be found in the financial methods of investment selection, which favors new equipment and neglects the maintenance of existing equipment. These methods, which are very effective in comparing new projects with each other, are much less effective when it comes to comparing in heavy new ones.
Moreover, the overall budgetary pressure on the public sector often leads to sacrificing public infrastructures maintenance in order to allocate resources to the wage bill and unavoidable current expenditure.
The economic importance of public infrastructure maintenance
Yet a country’s public infrastructure heritage has a significant, often unrecognized value. The link between them and GDP has been demonstrated by numerous studies, notably because of the added value in terms of economic attractiveness. These infrastructures are thus a powerful lever for attracting foreign investors. Indeed, economists have highlighted the importance of the quality of French infrastructure in the country’s strong attractiveness, which ranks third in the world in terms of foreign direct investment.
Like real estate assets, it is therefore necessary to take into account the cost of infrastructure, its depreciation in relation to its operating life and its maintenance in order to preserve both its heritage value and its capacity to provide the expected service. Under-investment or lack of maintenance may lead to their depreciation or, worse still, to their gradual mismatch with the services expected of them, leading to disruption of the local or national economy and risks for users.
Maintenance of transport and public buildings
The maintenance of transport infrastructures is both particularly important and relatively complex. While public infrastructure assets of national and regional importance receive a certain amount of attention, this is less true for infrastructures of local interest, which are also of significant interest for the economy of the territories.
However, it is important to adopt the necessary measures and budget allocation for the regular maintenance of this infrastructure, in order to maintain normal economic life, without it being hampered by prohibitions or restrictions on its use, the consequences of which would be far more serious than the investment made.
Airport maintenance, a logistical challenge
But the maintenance of these infrastructures is not simple. Airports, for example, require customized maintenance management due to their complexity. They need to efficiently monitor their assets (spread over a large area and in different environments) and the storage of spare parts to maintain them at an optimal level of service.
The multiplicity of people involved in the maintenance of public buildings
As far as public buildings are concerned, the multiplicity of people involved in managing and maintaining them makes their maintenance particularly complex. The challenge is to manage its organization while thinking about maintenance in a global and long-term way.
Deploying a CMMS to optimize public infrastructures maintenance
CMMS has become a must in many economic sectors. Although it is still too little used today in the public sector, next-gen CMMS platforms represent a major opportunity to improve public infrastructures maintenance easily and with a reduced investment.
Traditional CMMS in the public sector
Because of its characteristics (high cost, technical constraints, long lead times for implementation), the deployment of conventional CMMS in the public sector must meet specific constraints and needs. It must in fact respect the political agenda as well as administrative procedures and take into account the will of the people involved.
However, it does meet a real need for improved maintenance management and a strong public expectation. Several opinion surveys have shown, for example, that transport is the third most important concern in France.
Implementing a CMMS in public transport
This sector provides a perfect example of the cumbersome implementation of traditional maintenance software in the public sector, but also of its usefulness. The French public urban railway company wanted to adopt a CMMS solution in 1995. Many departments were reluctant, while the maintenance of many centres and stores was chaotic. The introduction of CMMS therefore took several years but considerably improved the efficiency of maintenance management and procedures. It was not until the end of 2004 that preventive maintenance could be applied.
This sector provides an eloquent example of the cumbersome implementation of traditional maintenance software in the public sector, but also of its usefulness. The French leading urban transportation company wanted to adopt a CMMS solutionin 1995. Many departments were reluctant, while the maintenance of many centres and stores was chaotic. The introduction of CMMS therefore took several years but considerably improved the efficiency of maintenance management and procedures. It was not until the end of 2004 that preventive maintenance could be applied.
This example also shows how quickly users should get that their new maintenance solution is effective. In the public sector, teams are often afraid of being “spied on” when a new IT tool is implemented. But if it makes their job much easier and quicker, they are much more likely to adopt it.
Next-gen CMMS are an opportunity for public actors
CMMS applications such as Mobility Work represent a major opportunity for the maintenance management of public infrastructures.
A limited investment
On the one hand, the financial investment to be made is very limited compared to that involved in conventional CMMS solutions. Indeed, it is no longer necessary to spend a considerable amount of money to purchase software, but only to take out a monthly subscription of 30 euros per active user. For public decision-makers, the budgetary constraint is therefore much easier to accept.
A mobile solution
On the other hand, this CMMS solution is mobile. It can be used from any smartphone or tablet. For departments in which agents work in large spaces such as an airport or a bus or metro maintenance workshop, this feature is a major asset.
Furthermore, the Mobility Work application has been designed to be very easy to use, just like any other application in everyday life. It is therefore much easier to convince the maintenance staff to change their habits in order to use it, and there is no need to train them, hich is costly in terms of time and investment.
A community dedicated to information sharing
Finally, the ability to share information with a community whose perimeter can be parameterized streamlines communication between agents and departments. In terms of time and efficiency of maintenance actions, the benefits are huge.
The days when companies or organizations (public or private) had to equip themselves with maintenance management solutions that were restrictive and difficult to handle seem to be over: the market is seeing the emergence of next-gen software that is completely different from traditional software, just like Mobility Work. This application offers both a community-based maintenance management platform and a maintenance social network where users can exchange tips and best practices.