What do you get when you cross an engineer with an astrophysicist?

Charles Oldham, Associate Director
08 December 2016
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Charles Oldham of Amey Consulting asks what skills are needed to deliver effective asset management strategy in the world of infrastructure today?

It’s not a joke or a riddle. It’s the question that all businesses working in the infrastructure sector should be asking themselves.  A blend of skills is now needed to meet the enormous challenges our infrastructure is facing, you need to be a cross between an engineer with an astrophysicist!

The UK has invested far less than other developed countries in infrastructure since the 1980's - effective asset management strategy is now crucial.

According to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), public spending on UK infrastructure has been less than countries like France, Canada, Switzerland and the US since the 1980s.  Yet the demand on out transport networks has never been higher.

With the lack of investment and with today’s increase in demand, it’s clear that the right asset management strategy has never been more important.

Using big data or even small data to make smart decisions

Data is the hot topic of the industry right now. Almost everyone who works for or with an asset owner will be talking about using data to make smart decisions, but what does this really mean?

Well, I suppose this will differ from business to business but for us, at Amey, it’s about really understanding the assets we manage, using cutting-edge technology to harvest data that matters and then having some of the brightest talent interpret what the data is telling us and translating it into action.

How the busiest transport assets use data

Working with Transport for London, we’ve used real-time data to predict equipment failure in sufficient time to deploy a maintenance team and prevent down-time, keeping the world’s busiest metro moving.

After success with the London Underground, we’ve applied this technology  (developed jointly by an engineer and an astrophysicist) to Heathrow, the world’s busiest airport.  It keeps essential equipment constantly in use, with minimal down-time.

Is data more than a phase?

There’s always a risk when something new comes to market, that not everyone will get on board – that some might dismiss it as a fad and carry on doing what they did before hoping that it will all blow over.

We see data differently and we’re making some bold moves to really embed this change into the way we do business.

One of the things we’re doing is to build the biggest infrastructure team dedicated to data, technology and analytics in the UK, thereby cementing our commitment to making data more than a trend.

Our growing team of remarkable people are here to help manage your assets

The new multidisciplinary team of infrastructure analysts is made up of a growing team of remarkable individuals with a huge range of skills and experience including backgrounds in engineering, history, neuroscience, architecture and economics to name a few.

With dozens of chartered engineers, PhDs and 16 languages between them, they are definitely an intelligent bunch but it’s their combined knowledge and experience that will enable us to find out things we never expected about the assets we look after and really make a difference to the work that we do – and that’s what you get when you cross an engineer with an astrophysicist.

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