Asset Management Manual
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2.4.2 Lifecycle planning

Lifecycle planning describes the approach to maintaining an asset from construction to disposal. It involves the prediction of future performance of an asset, or a group of assets, based on investment scenarios and maintenance strategies. The lifecycle plan is the documented output from this process (UKRLG and HMEP, 2013).

Lifecycle plans may be used to demonstrate how funding and/or performance requirements are achieved through appropriate maintenance strategies with the objective of minimizing expenditure while providing the required performance over a specified period of time (PIARC 2000).

Lifecycle planning can be applied to all road infrastructure assets and can adopt a range of basic approaches depending on the maturity of the organization and the skills and capabilities of its staff. However, its application may be more beneficial to those assets that have the greatest value, require considerable funding, and are high risk and/or seen as critical assets. In some cases, complex approaches may be applied, and in these circumstances, higher quality data and predictive modelling techniques will often be needed. Where minimal data are available, a more basic or a risk-based approach may be adopted, as discussed in section 2.3.

The lifecycle of an asset covers the following stages:

  • Creation of a new asset: This may include a single asset, such as a new bridge, new lamp column, or sign post, or a series of new assets in the construction of a new road.
  • Routine maintenance: This is the reactive and cyclic activity to maintain the asset over time. Examples include pothole repairs, tensioning of safety fencing, and cleaning of drainage and signs. It should be noted that strategies for routine maintenance may affect the long-term performance of the relevant asset. The approach to routine maintenance needs to be considered as part of the lifecycle planning process. Effective routine maintenance has the potential to extend asset life.
  • Renewal or replacement: This is the process required to bring the asset back to the required performance after it has deteriorated. This generally requires capital expenditure, unless it is a smaller item in the road inventory, in which case it could be replaced as part of routine maintenance.
  • Decommissioning: Most road infrastructure assets are rarely decommissioned. However, there are instances when some assets are removed from service. Such instances are likely to include closing bridges or removing street lighting, signs, and barriers.

Maintenance strategies may be developed that consider different treatment options and balance renewal with routine maintenance. These strategies should take into consideration the service life for each treatment option and balance the costs over a planned period of time. The objective of this process is to provide a lifecycle plan for an asset that will support the implementation of the asset management strategy and objectives. When applying a lifecycle approach, the following questions may be answered for a short-, medium-, and long-term period of planning for each asset:

  • What funding is needed to achieve the right maintenance standards (or performance targets)?
  • If there is insufficient funding to meet the required maintenance standards, what is the resulting asset performance expected to be?
  • What funding is required to maintain the asset in a steady state or in any other condition?
  • What is the lifecycle plan that delivers the minimum whole-life cost?

Adopting a lifecycle planning approach supports organizations in applying the principles of asset management to set maintenance standards that they can afford and/or that are desirable.

The desired performance is determined by setting the maintenance standards through developing performance targets, as described in section 1.4. Current asset performance is assessed through collecting information and data, based on the approach described in section 2.1, and monitoring performance, as described in section 2.2.

Typically, maintenance standards will have been selected for each asset type or group. These standards would normally represent the maintenance thresholds but may vary depending on the maturity of the organization that is applying lifecycle planning principles. It should be recognized that different performance requirements may also be adopted across different network hierarchies. For example, strategic roads may have different maintenance standards than less trafficked rural roads.

Where assets are to be maintained in a steady state, the lifecycle plan should be developed to meet existing performance requirements, as shown in Figure


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