Over the last fifty years, and particularly over the last two decades, cities and regions around the world have expanded rapidly. The construction and installation of numerous major infrastructures (airports, bridges, roads, ports, railway lines, etc.) has been an important part of this rapid expansion.

At the same time, the first generation of major societal infrastructures in many societies began to show their limits. Sometimes causing dangerous and inevitably costly accidents.

Infrastructure is the backbone of any society. They provide essential services such as transport, water supply and energy. The long-term performance of any major infrastructure is essential to safety.

But also, to the safety and smooth running of a society, and is often central to the economic activity of a city or region. Today, many examples of infrastructure around the world are aging and approaching (or exceeding) the end of their lifespan.

The sustainability of these assets is crucial to ensure the functionality and resilience of any important infrastructure. To deliver essential services in a sustainable way, it is essential to understand the long-term challenges of effective asset management. And finding the optimum balance between performance, risk and resources (costs, human resources, material resources).

Bernard Gaudreault is Director of Asset Management Consulting at Norda Stelo. With many years’ experience in this field, he is a passionate advocate of the strategic importance of asset management:

“Asset management plays a crucial role. It helps develop the organization’s people and capabilities, prioritize investments, plan maintenance. And to ensure that resources are used wisely to achieve the expected level of service or performance.”

Asset performance – a strategic imperative

Assets are very expensive. They are expected to perform to rigorous international standards for specified periods (typically 25 to 50 years). Maintaining their condition and performance is arguably the most important challenge for the overall management and ongoing viability of the infrastructure.

Major repairs (planned or unplanned) or replacements are costly. They take time and have a major impact on economic activity and service to the public.

For all infrastructures – such as airports, freeways, ports, water and sewage systems, etc. – there are a series of fundamental operational areas. – there are several fundamental operational areas in which asset management has undergone massive change over the past two decades.

As these changes have evolved, the challenges of our modern age – climate change, public accountability and the ability to serve larger populations more efficiently and safely – have given greater importance and urgency to the need to develop strategic, integrated methods for managing assets effectively and sustainably.

Better integrated essential information

Over the past two decades, it has become clear that information management systems deliver better, more integrated data and information to decision-makers and operational management. With essential data and information at hand, strategic choices regarding investment, maintenance and repair become more obvious. They are easier to justify or reject in favor of more efficient alternatives.

It’s important to note that strategic choices and asset management decisions are not annual or periodic events. Rather, they are an ongoing process of interpreting regular streams of data and information. And this, to better inform the choices and decisions that are made.  As Bernard Gaudreault notes:

“Asset management is not a one-off project, but a continuous improvement approach. It has no beginning and no end. This approach aligns the organization with its purpose and strategy.”

It is therefore essential for decision-makers and managers to have a solid base of knowledge and experience on which to base their strategic choices and decisions:       

  • Knowledge of what’s in place
  • Likely risks and how to mitigate them
  • Being accountable to the society served by the infrastructure           
  • Making sound financial decisions on costs and investments

Impact on improving sustainability and sustainable development

As the ability to manage assets more effectively has grown, and better, more integrated information has become available, the strategic nature of asset management is becoming readily apparent. And this is thanks to its impact on several key areas.

The degree of impact will vary according to the extent to which an organization has embarked on cataloguing its assets. In assessing their condition and performance and understanding the degree of risk relative to condition. And to the performance and possible costs of mitigation.

Today, continuous planning requires the collection and analysis of solid data and information. All aimed at determining the appropriate knowledge, resources and action plans.

Specialized information management, monitoring and sensor systems collect data and shape information. Vulnerabilities need to be reduced, risks mitigated and infrastructures developed for greater resilience in the future.

This global and strategic view of assets will enable choices to be made. These will translate into the most effective asset management practices and programs possible.

The key areas of planning, strategic decision-making and operational efficiency that have a critical impact on asset sustainability and viability are developed below.

All these areas are essential to the management of infrastructure assets in the short and long term. They become more readily accessible through the use of sophisticated information gathering capabilities and specialized integrated information systems.

Lifecycle management

Asset identification and inventory

A complete infrastructure inventory is essential. By identifying, valuing and cataloguing assets, we can understand their condition. But also, their replacement value and the stages in their life cycle.

Taking stock of what’s in place and how it’s working provides the data and information needed to plan and implement proactive maintenance and replacement strategies. A well-maintained inventory contributes to efficient resource allocation and risk mitigation.

Preventive maintenance

Implementing preventive maintenance practices is essential.  With the aim of maximizing infrastructure lifespan. Better data, shaped by increasingly sophisticated asset management information systems (such as Stelar), enable asset managers to use data analysis and asset condition monitoring technologies.

The resulting information enables early detection of potential problems. It facilitates timely intervention. Over time, they reduce the likelihood of ongoing performance problems and catastrophic failures.

Risk assessment and mitigation

Vulnerability analysis

Understanding existing and potential asset vulnerabilities is essential to developing sound risk mitigation strategies. In-depth vulnerability assessments help identify potential threats. Whether due to natural disasters, the effects of climate change or man-made risks. These assessments provide vital information for strategic decision-making processes.

Resilience planning

Strategic management of asset sustainability involves preventing damage. But it also means preparing for and recovering from adverse events. Resilience planning ensures that infrastructures can withstand shocks and stresses. It aims to minimize downtime in the event of problems. But also, to facilitate rapid recovery in the event of disruption.

Sustainable design and materials

Environmentally friendly infrastructures

Incorporating sustainable design principles into infrastructure development contributes to both environmental preservation and asset sustainability. The use of environmentally friendly materials, energy-efficient technologies and consideration of long-term environmental impacts are key aspects in ensuring that infrastructures stand the test of time.

Innovation in materials science

Advances in materials science play a key role in improving the sustainability of infrastructure. Investing in the research and development of innovative materials with superior strength, durability and resistance to corrosion and wear can significantly extend the lifespan of infrastructures.

Financial planning and investment

Life-cycle cost analysis

Effective asset management means taking into account the total cost of ownership over the entire life cycle of an asset. LCC analysis helps decision-makers to allocate resources efficiently. It balances initial costs with long-term maintenance and replacement expenses.

Long-term investment and financing strategies

Sustainable financing mechanisms are essential to maintain and upgrade infrastructure over time. Governments, private entities and public-private partnerships must work together to establish financing models that guarantee a steady stream of income for infrastructure maintenance and improvement.

Regulatory compliance and standards

Compliance with standards

To ensure the long-term viability of infrastructure, it is essential to ensure that it complies with current industry standards and regulations. Compliance with safety, environmental and quality standards not only enhances sustainability, but also minimizes legal and reputational risks.

Advocacy and regulatory cooperation

Engaging with regulatory bodies is essential. But also, to actively participate in the development of standards to foster a regulatory environment conducive to infrastructure sustainability. Collaboration between industry stakeholders and regulators can lead to effective and adaptable standards. Standards that promote sustainable infrastructure development.

Meeting the challenge of strategic asset management

Effectively managing the sustainability of infrastructure assets is a multi-faceted challenge. It requires a combination of proactive planning, innovative technologies and strategic investment. By adopting a holistic approach that encompasses lifecycle management, risk assessment, sustainable design, financial planning and regulatory compliance, decision-makers and managers can ensure the long-term resilience and functionality of critical infrastructure.

Adopting these strategic imperatives protects current investments and improves the quality of future decisions. But also, to lay the foundations for a sustainable and robust infrastructure ecosystem for the future generations it will serve.


Today and for the foreseeable future, it is strategically necessary to assess existing and planned assets, and to make informed decisions about their maintenance, repair, replacement and acquisition.

Contact us today for help and the peace of mind you deserve. Let us be your steadfast ally in meeting these challenges together. Take action today. Your solution is just a conversation away!