1 Managing Long-Life Assets

Managing Long-Life Assets /

When developing long-term strategies, it is important to differentiate between the primary asset, with a long service life, and elements or components of that asset, that may be repaired or replaced to allow the primary asset to achieve its design life. In the case of pavements, the pavement structure may require several wearing surface replacements, either through overlay or removal and replacement of the wearing surface, to ensure the pavement structure lasts as long as intended. For assets such as bridges or signal installations structural elements or functional components may be repaired or replaced multiple times within the service life of the primary asset. In almost every case the failure to perform these maintenance and preservation actions, or failure to perform them at the appropriate time will lead to reduced service life of the primary asset.

When determining the appropriate treatment for a long-life asset, it is important to understand the root cause of the condition being prevented or corrected. Inexpensive treatments that address the visible or measured condition without addressing the cause of the distress are not cost effective. Examples of such treatments include:

  • Thin overlays of asphalt pavements that are displaying structural cracking.
  • Painting corroded structural steel members without proper surface preparation.
  • Filling leaking bridge joints without proper materials or preparation.

While such treatments may, in some specific circumstances, be needed to provide minimal function or safety until a more substantial repair can be made, they should not be considered part of an optimal life cycle strategy.

Treatments made to achieve or extend the service life of these assets can also address changes in conditions or assumptions that have occurred since the asset was designed and constructed. Examples of these types of treatments include seismic retrofitting or applying scour protection to bridges, or increasing the hydraulic capacity of corrugated culverts by relining with smooth interiors. Each of these treatments reduces the risk of premature failure to an extreme event, and may at the same time address other structural or functional needs, without replacing the primary asset or changing its functional nature, i.e. increasing traffic-carrying capacity.

Read more in the chapter: 4.1.3 Developing Life Cycle Strategies