Management of distributed assets : rapid inspection and tracking

July 2020
The task seemed daunting: carry out inspections at 38 locations across the UK, assessing 478 structures in 11 weeks, with reports issued rapidly and data collation centralised. But this is the schedule we achieved for waste management company Biffa, developing software tools along the way that enable rapid data review for all the sites and structures, and prioritisation for immediate actions.

The sites visited by our engineers Rob Bath and Mark Young are spread all over the country, from Redruth in the South West to Sunderland in the North East. They include waste transfer stations, mixed and plastic recycling facilities, Biffa’s Polymers Division and landfill sites, and a rail depot. At each site, we categorised and assessed the condition of all containment structures present, completing digital forms we customised using the FastField mobile app. The app’s spreadsheet output was imported into Whitby Wood’s standardised report format using a tool developed by our software engineers, making it possible to send Biffa a detailed assessment within four days of each site inspection.

To help our client get an overall picture, we brought in the data collected by others from the rest of Biffa’s sites — they have 73 in the UK and Ireland. We also worked with engineers Taylor & Boyd at one site in Northern Ireland, supplying our methodology for their data collection. We used proprietary visualisation software to summarise the full dataset, creating a client-accessible dashboard that maps and charts the survey information.

We plan to build on this rapid-delivery asset management process by adding a web-based Intranet interface that will update in real time, showing new data as it is collected and enabling ongoing tracking of structural remediation or replacement works.

If you are managing a portfolio of sites or structures and want to discuss the possibilities for rapid documentation or centralised tracking, contact Whitby Wood’s director of engineering intelligence, Alex Baalham.

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