2016 RIMS Forum – new ideas, new connections

The Road Infrastructure Management Forum has become a must-attend event for the broad roading infrastructure management industry. Contractor magazine was a guest at the 2016 Forum. Report by ALAN TITCHALL.

The fifth annual event was held in Rotorua at what must be one of the most comfortable (think nice theatre seats) event centres in the country – the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.

Some 215 delegates attended this year, made up of roading managers, consultants, contractors and others from utility companies, the civil contracting industry, industry suppliers, local authorities and the NZ Transport Agency.

This is a very well run event and packs a great deal of ‘knowledge’ into two days. It is like a huge industry, insider discussion and sharing of knowledge and case studies – without political or regulatory overtones. There was no ministerial opening, just a welcome from the Forum’s chair, Simon Gough and Adam Bevins, the National Lead, Asset Management at Downer, representing the main sponsor of the event.

If there was a single theme, then it concerned the ‘quality’ of data as something that is integral to all areas of infrastructure works, and asset investment and management.

RIMS runs this event with the support of IDS and NZUAG (see side box if you are starting to get lost in this kaleidoscope of acronyms), with RIMS and IDS being under the IPWEA umbrella.

RIMS Forum chair Simon Gough is presented with the prize for the Best Presentation for Day 1 (as chosen by the audience), by Pio who MC’d the Forum with a balance of professionalism and humour.
RIMS Forum chair Simon Gough is presented with the prize for the Best Presentation for Day 1 (as chosen by the audience), by Pio who MC’d the Forum with a balance of professionalism and humour.

The first day of plenary presentations, organised by RIMS, had a focus on sharing asset management good practice, data collection, works management, transforming data into intelligence, and the use of systems and data in optimised decision making and the management of assets. The day included a ‘huddle’ session around tables called ‘Rapid Download talks’, where services and software were demonstrated.

The second day was made up of two concurrent, focused theme streams – Roading Optimised Decision Making (the more technical of the two) and Corridor Access Management. These streams were designed for sharing difficulties and learnings, debating and digging into key issues. In what must be a first for the events industry and delegate comfort, all 28 speaker presentations were restricted to a maximum of 20 minutes.

“An important goal of day two is to provide a forum for professionals in the sectors of the industry that do not often get the opportunity to meet as a community to come together and make contacts/network,” says Simon Gough, Forum chair.

“The Forum started as a single discussion five years ago and has become a major event, having gone from 100 delegates to 215 delegates this year, including representatives from 35 local authorities.

“We have also gone from a one day event to two days by joining with an original IDS [Infrastructure Decision Support] stream and introducing a corridor management stream with the help of the NZ Utilities Advisory Group.”

The Forum idea originated, Simon says, because there were so many concerns in the sector.

At the opening of day one he told delegates: “One of the principles of the Forum is to support you and your sense of place in the industry, and encourage you outside of your day to day routines to find new ideas and connections across our industry.

“If you can walk away with two new ideas, two new contacts and two new products and services then we feel we have been a success.”

Forum highlights

ALIM – Asset Lifestyle Information Management

BIM – Building Information Modelling/Management

CAD – Computer Aided Design

CAR – Corridor Access Request

IDS – Infrastructure Decision Support

IPWEA – Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia

NZUAG – NZ Utilities Advisory Group

RAMM – Road Assessment & Maintenance Management software

RIMS – Roading Infrastructure Management Support

SUBMITICA – Interface to RAMM’s CAR Manager

TTM – Temporary Traffic Management

Keynote speaker was Brian Middleton, vice president of Bentley Systems in Australasia and based in Sydney.

His presentation on asset lifecycle management made the point that, with about 80 percent of the total lifecycle cost of an asset expended during operations and maintenance, common sense would suggest that asset managers are critical to whole of life management.

“Yet in practice asset managers are still ‘handed’ asset post-construction with inadequate supporting data,” he says.

“Understanding and controlling how information is accepted, stored, managed and shared, both around the organisation and outside corporate boundaries is critical when making decisions.”

Brian discussed this issue in detail through a case study on Crossrail – Europe’s largest civil construction project (NZ$35 billion), showing real benefits to asset owners by starting with the ‘end in mind’. This massive project is half a billion pounds ahead of budget after four years, and only 1.5 weeks behind time.

We will cover Brian’s case study in detail in a future issue of Contractor, but he is emphatic that BIM is not an adequate system for civil asset lifestyle management, even though it has been widely adopted in the industry. And don’t store data in the CAD, he says.

“Don’t let the CAD manager take over – no one uses CAD modelling for asset management.”

Another impressive first day presentation was made by Dawn Inglis who was the Road Corridor manager at Waipa District Council before being seconded to a regional role as project director for the Waikato RATA (Road Asset Technical Accord).

In her presentation ‘How collaboration is building better asset management capacity and capability in the Waikato’, Dawn explained how the Waikato Mayoral Forum brought together the region’s 12 mayors and the regional chair to bolster cooperation, share knowledge, generate savings and other efficiencies. This roading workstream led to the development of RATA to support strategic asset management functions across the region. A number of local authorities are now looking at this case study, which we will detail in a future issue of Contractor.

A number of presentations at RIMS 2016 covered the all-important RAMM database for corridor access managers and corridor access requests (CARs), and temporary traffic management (TTM), and the Submitica interface that was launched early last year to access this database. We were told at the Forum that Submitica is gaining usage over ‘Dial Before You Dig’ among CARs.

If you are wondering about the strange title – Submitica was originally meant to be called Submittocar (which makes sense), but was misinterpreted during the marketing development.

Both Submitica and the RAMM programme have come a long way over the past year. For instance, a recent change to the CARs interface is a map of the ‘corridor’ showing a model of all other works going on in an area. You can imagine the image of Auckland’s CBD at the moment, with huge projects under construction such as the new convention centre and preliminary work on for the CityRail Link?

We look forward to publishing presentations from the 2016 Road Infrastructure Management Forum over the following year and thank RIMS for its kind invitation to attend its event this year.

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