Capture Knowledge to Operate and Maintain Assets, Equipment
Capture Knowledge to Operate and Maintain Assets, Equipment
Capture Knowledge to Operate and Maintain Assets, Equipment
By: Chris Hotop 2 minute read

Information gathered now can help postpone or even prevent costly delays, repairs and replacements by giving personnel the data they need to make the right decisions, when and where they're needed.

Critical equipment, assets and systems don't always come with a user manual — or at least not anything that could possibly contain all the adjustments, operational requirements, repairs, upgrades and replacements necessary for keeping an airport running smoothly.

That's why keeping up-to-date on specifications, conditions, plans, maintenance schedules and other items is essential. Information gathered now can help postpone or even prevent costly delays, repairs and replacements by giving personnel the data they need to make the right decisions, when and where they're needed. Establishing systems, components and subcomponents to be accounted for and tracked is also important to properly communicate lines of responsibility to staff and/or contractors. This can help delineate the entire facility into manageable pieces so that critical assets do not fall through the cracks.

Most facilities are fortunate to have longtime staff with great amounts of institutional knowledge and know-how to operate and maintain the systems. However, as longtime personnel retire and others depart, capturing information that otherwise might be lost becomes even more critical.

Here are some key aspects of asset management to consider:

  • Create a baseline.

A key and instrumental method of documenting and maintaining information from staff is to create a baseline for the system. Many facilities lack information about past and existing conditions. Without knowing what a facility has in place and its condition, how can it be maintained, serviced or scheduled for replacement? This goes both for historical information and existing conditions: For each system compile an assessment that includes location, type of equipment, manufacturer, equipment age, service life, deferred maintenance and replacement value. Also, be sure to document services and repairs that have been performed, and track issues that have arisen in the past, are ongoing or remain unresolved. Such information often proves instrumental in being efficient and effective.

  • Document operational and maintenance activities.

A preventive maintenance plan should be in place, or one should be created. Having a regimented plan that includes daily, weekly, monthly and annual activities — and with observations and operational checklist verifications for each system — is essential for overall performance, especially as staff sets guidelines for following manufacturers' recommendations. Maintenance tasks should be uniform for all staff performing preventative maintenance, and
plans for specific systems should be tabbed, indexed and readily available.

• Provide hands-on leadership.

Managing directors and department heads should allocate time to walk down to the systems in place and observe firsthand how a system was installed, its operation and any difficulties with accessibility or maintenance. Understanding types of systems or subsystems — including new versus old, monitored or not, and head end communications — helps capture the overall picture of an entire system. Interviews with staff are important and should occur during walk-throughs or staff meetings, providing open-communication opportunities for everyone. Having multiple concepts and ideas for improvement improves planning.

Geodatabase files and proprietary data collection tools can be used to collect critical asset information, which then can be integrated with current or future Enterprise Asset Management Systems (EAMS). Burns & McDonnell has provided this type of support to major airports in establishing baselines for existing assets, including the documentation of nameplate information, equipment age, remaining service life, conditions, risk effect and O&M practices. Using this information, along with deferred maintenance and replacement costs, recommendations can be developed based on predetermined planning horizons for repairs and capital improvement programs as well as O&M plans. Issues identified and corresponding recommendations also can be used to generate work orders through the EAMS for tracking and completion by airport staff and/or service contractors.

Chris Hotop, PE, LEED AP, is a project manager in the Aviation Group at Burns & McDonnell.


To reduce risks in maintenance and operation of critical assets and systems, invest in gathering useful information through:

  • Facility condition assessments
  • Documentation of record drawings
  • Surveys and walk-throughs
  • Meetings with stakeholders
  • Interviews with longtime staff
  • Utilization of EAMS for work order and project management tracking
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