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P A R T A Introduction and the âWhyâ of GAM
3 Introduction For a transportation infrastructure owner, geotechnical assets are the walls, slopes, embank- ments, and subgrades that contribute to the ability of an agency to perform its strategic mission. Legacy approaches often group geotechnical assets into the category of unpredictable liabilities or hazards. Worse, geotechnical assets may be ignored altogether until failure forces action. At the same time, functional life-cycle expectations exist for geotechnical assets, and these assets contribute measurable value to the transportation network. Thus, walls, slopes, embankments, and subgrades are indeed assets and should be managed to realize the measurable life-cycle and performance benefits that are possible for owners and users. Across nations and across infrastructure systems, numerous examples of geotechnical asset management (GAM) implementation have resulted in life-cycle cost savings, reductions in performance and operational disruptions, and fewer emergency stabilization projects. NCHRP Research Report 903: Geotechnical Asset Management, Volume 2: Implementation Manual (the GAM Implementation Manual, for short) provides the guidance, tools, and supporting information for a transportation infrastructure owner to realize the benefits of GAM with a focus on quick imple- mentation and value creation. Asset management is ultimately a life-cycle process and involves a culture that can be adapted through process improvements once the process has started. The most important step is simply starting; otherwise, value is lost. Readers seeking information about the research process and background information that informed the creation of this manual are encouraged to consult NCHRP Research Report 903, Volume 1: Research Overview. C H A P T E R 1 Overview
4 Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies, Volume 2: Implementation Manual How to Use the GAM Implementation Manual The GAM Implementation Manual introduces risk-based asset management concepts for geotechnical assets that can be used by departments of transportation (DOTs) and other trans- portation infrastructure owners at any stage of transportation asset management (TAM) imple- mentation and at any point in the geotechnical asset life-cycle. Lack of prior asset management practices need not be an excuse for avoiding management of an existing asset, as there are ben- efits to starting at any time during an assetâs life-cycle. The time to start is now! The GAM Implementation Manual is organized into three parts, which are briefly described in the balance of this section. Part A: Introduction and the âWhyâ of GAM Part A of this manual introduces GAM and, more importantly, introduces why it is important to implement GAM. The âwhyâ discussion provides introductory information that introduces the case for GAM to the various stakeholders, including department executive decision- makers, transportation asset managers, and geotechnical and geological staff (geo-professionals) who will lead and participate in the GAM process. This âwhyâ discussion is intended as a high-level summary of reasons to perform GAM. Throughout the manual, the reader will find other examples of the reasons for GAM, many of which are supported by existing successful practices. Part B: Starting GAM Implementation Part B provides agencies and asset owners the opportunity to hit the ground running without having to get bogged down learning all the nuances of asset management or geotechnical assets beforehand. Part B teaches the basics of GAM through step-by-step implementation instruc- tions. The âGAM Planner,â a simple spreadsheet-based (Microsoft Excel) worksheet tool, has been created to supplement this section and will enable rapid creation of a real and functioning GAM inventory and assessment. Together with appendix files that supplement this manual, a slide presentation useful for GAM training, and a spreadsheet-based net present value (NPV) planning template, the GAM Planner can be downloaded at no charge from the report web page. To access these resources, go to www.trb.org and search for âNCHRP Research Report 903â. A technical memorandum on implementation of the research findings also can be accessed using a link on the NCHRP 24-46 project page.
Overview 5 Part B is structured for learning GAM by doing GAM; it will enable the geo-professional or asset manager to begin implementing GAM regardless of agency stakeholder interest levels and without requiring mastery of complicated processes and data. As a process, GAM implementation as described in this manual proceeds using steps that have less precision than is typical in engineering design. The geo-professional is thus encouraged to move forward with GAM knowing that uncertainty is part of the process, and that this uncer- tainty will reduce with time and implementation experience. The benefits of GAM justify starting now rather than waiting to develop expertise before begin- ning implementation. This âlean startâ approach is supported by numerous case studies that have demonstrated it is better to start simply and improve with time than to invest in a complex approach up front without implementation testing along the way. When supplemented with con- tinuous improvement over time, the lean start approach is a proven path toward realizing quick success for a GAM plan. Figure 1.1 illustrates the GAM implementation steps detailed in Part B. Part C: Understanding the GAM Process Once GAM implementation has begun following the simple steps in Part B (or should a GAM plan already be in place), Part C provides technical and supporting information about TAM concepts and the integration of GAM with TAM that can help an agency move toward a more mature level of GAM as justified by the return on investment (ROI) over time. Why Implement GAM? The benefits of GAM are real and measurable, and are increasingly being recognized by both public and private infrastructure organizations. Based on outcomes from successful programs around the world, performing GAM yields benefits that include: â¢ Financial savings across the geotechnical life-cycle, with values reported to be greater than 30 percent by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE 2013) and 60 percent to 80 percent per unit length of embankment in the United Kingdom (Perry et al. 2003); Because asset man- agement creates value, delaying implementation wastes resources and delays realiza- tion of benefits. Starting GAM is the first success- ful step an agency can take, and this manual will facili- tate implementa- tion whether it is done by a moti- vated individual or with support and input from across a department. Define and Locate Assets Assess Current Condition Assess Performance Conduct Investment Analysis Communicate Results Incorporate Process Improvements Figure 1.1. Implementation steps detailed in Part B of the GAM Implementation Manual.
6 Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies, Volume 2: Implementation Manual â¢ A process to measure and manage involuntary safety risk exposure across the entire asset class; â¢ Lessened traveler delay and closure times, resulting in improved network operational performance; â¢ Reduced adverse economic impacts to users, private enterprise, and communities; â¢ Fewer impacts and damages to other transportation assets; â¢ Optimized resources, improved sustainability, and well-maintained reputation; â¢ Enhancement of data-driven decisions that support agency and executive objectives; â¢ A greater understanding of risk exposure levels and distribution, and the ability to manage those risks; and â¢ The ability to start very simple and adapt the GAM process over time as the economic benefits are realized. The outputs from even a simple GAM plan will enable individuals responsible for geo technical assets to have a defensible basis for operational decisions, enhancing their ability to compete for resources and funds. Further, those responsible for geotechnical assets will be able to communi- cate to executives and planning staff the levels of risk and costs that an agency may be accepting through legacy design and maintenance practices. Financial Responsibility for GAM GAM enables an infrastructure owner to measure and manage the life-cycle investment of assets such as slopes, embankments, walls, and unstable subgrades based on performance expectations and risk tolerance. The reasons for implementing GAM are comparable to those that justify any other individual or business practice that is directed at making smart invest- ments with limited funds. Using GAM, organizations will better manage risks to traveler safety, mobility, and economic vitality, and will be able to make knowledge-based life-cycle invest- ment decisions. Public agencies have a fiduciary responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer-provided funds. Moreover, an agencyâs ability to function well and succeed in its mission depends greatly on whether it is viewed as a good steward of public funds. Consequently, agencies establish policies and procedures to ensure that public funds are used effectively, waste is minimized, and invest- ments can withstand the test of public scrutiny. GAM is a value-added process that supports agency personnel in fulfilling their commitment to good stewardship of taxpayer funds. Managing Risk The consequences associated with adverse performance from geotechnical assetsâimpacts to traveler and worker safety, travel delays and closures, unplanned or urgent staffing needs, and direct expenses to maintenance and engineering programsâare well understood by many DOTs. System users experience the adverse geotechnical performance first hand, as they are impacted by delays and closures; they also may incur vehicle or property damage, or in the worst case experience, they may sustain injuries from an unfortunate safety event. When adverse events occur, the public often will question an agencyâs failure to prevent the event (i.e., to proactively manage the underlying situation), which leads to reputation issues. The fact that readily identifiable impacts originate from geotechnical assets makes it pos- sible to measure asset performance in terms of the assetâs condition and the consequences to the owners and users of the asset. Each asset performance measurement will have a magnitude and a location reference, and will change with time, depending on the asset ownerâs investment GAM is an oppor- tunity for the geo- professional to earn a âseat at the asset management tableâ when it comes to communicating investment needs, competing with other asset groups, and making mea- surable improve- ments to agency performance. The NCHRP study team reviewed case studies of agencies that had years of experience with GAM. When discussing GAM with agency staff, the study team received responses along the lines of âWhy wouldnât you do GAM?â These agencies had real- ized such favor- able benefits from GAM they could no longer envision operating without GAM.
Overview 7 and maintenance levels. When asset performance is measurable, the task of communicating the need for asset management to stakeholders and executives becomes much easier. For geo- professionals working in resource-constrained departments with limited executive involve- ment, a simple GAM system will help them compete effectively for resources by enabling them to determine and communicate risk levels and investment needs using data-driven processes. Even without executive-level GAM or TAM support in the agency, the geo-professional or TAM team can be confident knowing they are applying good business practices in the alloca- tion of their work efforts and resources. Decision Support Even when implemented at a simple level, GAM processes can provide the geo-professional with data that enables operational decision-makers to make better-informed choices in order to: â¢ Reduce expenses and optimize investments for geotechnical assets at any point in the asset life-cycle; â¢ Reduce broader economic impacts associated with asset failures, (e.g., injury, loss of life, or property damage to citizens, businesses, and other governmental agencies); â¢ Lessen delays and closures associated with adverse performance of geotechnical assets; and â¢ Support environmental sustainability and public relations initiatives. Starting Simply A simple GAM implementation can be completed without a large investment while following a framework that can connect to a broader TAM program or performance improvement initia- tive. As has been demonstrated through successful asset management plans from around the world, continuous improvement is the recommended practice for reaching an advanced level of asset management maturity. In other words, it is an acceptable approach to start simply and increase precision over time with financially justified improvements to processes, data, and staff capabilities. This manual provides an implementation framework for developing a simple GAM system. Considering proven examples from successful programs, this framework was formulated to enable a resource-limited staff to implement GAM without a sizable upfront program
8 Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies, Volume 2: Implementation Manual commitment. Using the framework, the geo-professional can demonstrate the purpose and value of GAM, thus establishing defensible justification for further investment. This approach is of particular importance because GAM is currently not mandated; however, efforts are underway in at least one U.S. state to legislate implementation if voluntary agency actions are not adequate to enhance public trust. At present, GAM must be justified on the basis of real, measurable value and risk reduction. With time, continuous improvement through favorably justified investments can allow an agency to develop a more mature GAM program. Just as an agency measures and reports on metrics such as annual budgets, traveler safety, and economic contributions, geotechnical asset performance can be communicated as an out- come of GAM implementation. Within any framework, communication of this performance is a key process to demonstrate the value proposition for obtaining limited funds based on a sound business case and a favorable ROI. Unlike many procedures in traditional engineering and construction project delivery, asset management is not a task to be checked âDone.â Rather, it is a continuous process. Further, asset management objectives will vary by agency and over time within an agency. Thus, GAM implementation is best started as a simple process that demonstrates the range in potential benefits and that can be adapted over time with feedback from executives and stakeholders. For example, one agency may realize its GAM system can provide measurable benefits to preserving asset condition, whereas another agency may learn that potential improvements can come in the form of reduced traveler delays. Starting with a simple GAM implementation allows each agency to use feedback from TAM and executive staff to improve workflows and identify activities that can be minimized. Rather than expending resources up front to execute a comprehensive but untested plan, a simple GAM implementation that matures over time can better match the specific objectives of each agency. A GAM system that connects with strategic objectives can stand on the basis of economic, operational, and social benefits without depend- ing on regulatory requirements for implementation. Starting with a simple process that matures over time is a proven enabler of successful asset management.