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‘More imagination and more bravery’ needed to act on AMMA

Anglian Water’s head of strategic investment management reflects on the key recommendations and considerations outlined in Ofwat’s Asset Management and Maturity Assessment – or AMMA.

Discussing the need to simultaneously respond to AMMA and prepare for AMP8, Anglian Water’s head of strategic investment management Matthew Humphrey told Utility Week’s Water Industry Asset Management conference that amid exciting tech advances in areas such as climate science and data analytics, and subsequent opportunities in network management, deeper collaboration was firmly on the agenda.

“We need more imagination and more bravery,” he told delegates, urging that the time had come to stop thinking about five year cycles in favour of planning 25 or 50 years into the future.

“How can we better monitor operational resilience and asset health and get under the skin of asset health, rather than short term performance commitments?” he continued. “Let’s get better at risk and review.”

Released in September 2021 in a bid to deliver more effective communication and consistent thinking in relation to asset health, management and their links to resilience across the water sector, Ofwat’s AMMA set out a series of insights to inform water company asset policy for the benefit of customers, environment and society.

Comprising findings from research gathered from water companies between November 2020 and March 2021, its overarching recommendation is for firms to work together to improve asset management maturity across the sector – most prominently through industry forums and action plans.

  • Resilience, reliability and collaborative transformation to adopt technology and innovation are among the key themes at the Utility Week Forum, which will take place in London on 8-9 November. Find out more here.

AMMA recommendations also outline that boards have clear oversight and understanding of asset health risks and plans to mitigate them, as well as improved approaches to planning by aligning short, medium and long-term measures via detailed delivery strategies.

On top of this, its recommended that companies systematically identify areas of uncertainty, develop data management strategies, ensure staff are trained to plan and manage asset efficiency, and that social and environmental value is both tracked and monitored in any intervention.

With this in mind, Humphrey explained that practical points for improvement could include more proactive approaches to open data – such as steps to make data more broadly available to the supply chain and academia, for example – alongside a greater focus on attracting a new pipeline of talent to counterbalance an ageing industry workforce.

While Humphrey explained that a number of responses were already well underway – “industry groups popping up all over the place” – he asserted that broader innovation and more habitual sharing of best practice was still required to plug gaps in areas such as data and environment management.

Humphrey added that Ofwat had also pledged to consider how its regulation could change to reflect these findings.

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