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Sustainment Management System enables proactive asset management of CE built infrastructure

Wes Somers
Dr. Ivonne Bates

Air Force Civil Engineer Center Operations Directorate Asset Visibility Division

    We are at the forefront of establishing a standardized, Defense Department-wide facility condition assessment, or FCA, process for all built infrastructure. The ability to anticipate built infrastructure weaknesses, thereby preventing deterioration and failure as part of daily operations, is on the horizon and will significantly change how we budget, plan and prioritize built infrastructure requirements. Bases that embrace this paradigm shift will reap the benefits much earlier than bases that do not. 

     Currently, the Air Force uses different methodologies for assessing the condition of its assets, resulting in inconsistent condition index data and an inability to accurately plan, program and budget work for facilities. Further, it blurs the connection between asset management best practices and benefits, such as reduced workloads and project funding based on more refined future year requirements. 

     In addition to the urgency in managing CE's built infrastructure portfolio, the DOD mandated that all facilities and components in the Real Property Asset Database be inspected and rated using a Sustainment Management System, or SMS, or alternate data system by September 2017 to coincide with concurrent Financial Improvement Audit Readiness requirements. 

Enabling Proactive Asset Management
     The Air Force Civil Engineer Center Operations Directorate is actively managing the Air Force-wide implementation of the SMS, a suite of web-based software applications developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help leadership, facility engineers, technicians and Activity Management Plan, or AMP, and sub-AMP managers decide when, where and how to best maintain CE's built infrastructure. The goal, through implementation of SMS and complete asset visibility at each installation, is to be more proactive in planning, identifying, budgeting for and executing requirements. 

      Currently PAVER and BUILDER, two active SMS applications, are utilized for calculating and validating condition assessment scores and asset inventory. The Air Force is currently spearheading the development of a utilities SMS application through the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center's Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, which will add to and standardize requirements forecasting across the three built infrastructure activities - facilities, transportation networks and airfield pavements, and utilities. CERL is developing the FUELER SMS, which is Defense Logistics Agency funded and is integral to the utilities built infrastructure. 

      Technology is never the complete solution. There is an immediate need to provide guidance to the field to achieve the mission of standardizing, collecting, analyzing, validating and maintaining accurate horizontal and vertical infrastructure data to support resource allocation and operational decisions. The SMS Playbook, currently under AFCEC/CO development for the Air Force, will implement standardized assessment processes enabled by SMS across the CE enterprise according to a DOD mandate and will drive utilization of SMS in day-to-day operations. 

Base-Level Application
     At the installation level, SMS provides scenario, trend and cost analysis capabilities. SMS automates the means of exploring different action plans under various budget scenarios. SMS's Work Item Cost Analysis tool determines the return and return-on-investment for each work activity type (i.e., do nothing, stop gap repair, repair, replace); this tool identifies the most cost-effective options, showing the benefits of repair versus replacement and the consequences of deferring work for a given item. This makes multi-year work plans easier to formulate and funding requests easier to justify. Further, a base can analyze the total dollar amount attributed to an asset (such as an HVAC unit) over its lifespan against its relative condition, perform root cause analysis and determine if a project is needed to remedy the problem. 

     SMS's condition index trend analysis can search through base inventory to estimate the best time to initiate maintenance or repairs several years in advance. This helps bases prepare out-year budgets and lower the total asset lifecycle cost of ownership. Bases can anticipate the optimum time -- the "sweet spot" -- to repair specific components and minimize the penalty costs incurred from deferring maintenance; bases can later determine if work performed reduced the number of issues recorded against a given asset, resulting in lifecycle cost savings. Work items not completed in one year will be generated the following year at a higher cost due to inflation and, for repair work types, the cost of additional deterioration. Constrained scenario analysis provides insight into what parts of the inventory will suffer at a given funding level. As a result, bases will see optimal facility performance out of the dollars invested.

Real Benefits
     Even in its early stages, users of SMS are realizing the benefits of this powerful tool. To realize the benefits of SMS and implement proactive asset management principles, bases must establish an updated inventory. With the help of AFCEC's Asset Visibility Team, the 721st Civil Engineer Squadron at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado, inventoried and assessed nearly 400,000 square feet, or 98 percent, of the installation in only four days, noting the condition according to predefined standards in SMS. 

     Cheyenne Mountain's Deputy Mission Support Group Commander Steven Rose stated that implementing BUILDER, with the help of AFCEC, secured $8 million in funding for issues previously unidentified. Before BUILDER implementation, facility assets only gained attention if something broke, while other unidentified issues existed and were left to fester. This drives to the basic principle of SMS - proactive condition assessments avoid reactive service calls.

     On a larger scale, the 97th CES at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, inventoried and assessed four million square feet of facilities in four months, a rate of 100,000 square feet per day. Further, Altus designed its own Microsoft Access database to cross-reference failing facilities in SMS to projects scheduled in the Automated Civil Engineer System - Project Management and resources expended against the asset. To support ability of commanders to make data-driven decisions, Altus used BUILDER and ACES-PM outputs to visually illustrate facilities in need of project funding and articulate root causes of recurring issues. This demonstrates the ability of SMS to serve as an advocacy tool, ensuring resources are allocated appropriately.

Good Data Rolls Up
     SMS provides enterprise-wide asset visibility of condition and geographic data, enabling higher levels of CE to project long-term built infrastructure requirements. CE can supplement or validate requirements models for the development of AMPs that feed the Program Objective Memorandum budgeting process and assist in the development of projects for inclusion in the Comprehensive Asset Management Plan. The Air Force can apply asset management principles to its real property portfolio based on refreshed data, which is essential in a highly resource-constrained environment.

Implementation Support
     To deploy and optimize the use of SMS and comply with the mandate, AFCEC/CO is developing the SMS Playbook to publish the SMS Implementation Plan and provide standardized, base-level guidance for conducting facility condition assessments. The playbook incorporates input (successes, lessons learned) from operations engineering elements at several bases. Sections on SMS-specific guidance (such as BUILDER Supplemental Guidance) describe roles and responsibilities, desired outcomes, data sources, references, prioritization criteria and practical examples for leveraging SMS outputs to inform requirements. This playbook will be deployed to the CE Portal by mid-August 2015 and consumes the information currently contained in the FCA and Linear Infrastructure Playbooks, which will be retired. 

More than a Mandate
     SMS is an element of CE Transformation and CE's asset management philosophy and represents a shift toward a proactive versus reactive asset management strategy. Instead of keeping assets operational by relying primarily on corrective repairs (after a system or component has failed due to significant loss of function), this strategy focuses on condition-based repairs, which can be planned prior to failure with the support of SMS and results in higher performing assets at lower lifecycle costs. Base-level users will possess a powerful, user-friendly tool to support daily operations, and AFCEC and headquarters will achieve enterprise-wide asset visibility to inform wide-scale resource allocation and strategic planning. SMS establishes a knowledge base that makes built infrastructure data more complete, consistent and accessible.