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Malaysia’s national sewerage company embarks on GIS to manage assets

Anusuyah Bai S.K. Sivalingam, Head of Asset Management Unit, Indah Water Konsortium, Malaysia
Anusuyah Bai S.K. Sivalingam
Head of Asset Management Unit
Indah Water Konsortium

Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) has been leveraging Enterprise GIS for handling spatial information of its physical assets as part of its advocacy to provide efficient sewerage services to nearly 20 million people. Its Head of Asset Management Unit, Anusuyah Bai S.K.Sivalingam, tells Geospatial World more.


Can you describe the amount of assets that IWK has to manage?

IWK business is very much centred on physical infrastructure assets.  Currently, IWK is responsible for operating and maintaining more than 6,000 public sewage treatment plants and approximately 16,000 km of sewer networks. IWK’s operational coverage includes most parts of Peninsular Malaysia, providing sewerage services to nearly 20 million people.

What is the biggest challenge in treating domestic sewage?

The large number of public sewage treatment plants, their geographical spread and varied designs coupled with poor quality of inherited facilities makes effective and efficient operation and maintenance extremely difficult. Refurbishment programmes have been initiated to bring these facilities to working conditions, and a gradual upgrading programme will enable standards to be met.

The sewer network has its share of problem. Many sewer pipelines are old and in poor condition. This causes problems of infiltration and inflow which in turn affects the treatment facilities and pump stations. Other problems include blockages, surcharging and overflows and also exfiltration. Programmes to identify critical sewers, carrying out investigations and instituting rehabilitation are required.

How does GIS help you overcome this?

Visualisation is one of the most powerful aspects of GIS (not forgetting accurate data to go along with it) and this assist IWK in our planning aspects as well as to get the buy-in from the stakeholders to provide funding for the programmes mentioned above.

When did IWK decide to embark on Enterprise GIS? What was the reason behind it?

IWK embarked into an Enterprise GIS in 2009, namely IGIS (Integrated Geographic Information System) for handling spatial information of the physical asset (Sewage Treatment Plants and Sewer Networks) and it is being widely used by users in various departments within IWK.

At first when IWK initially started off, we took over large number of assets which was geographically spread out. Added to that, lack of data on existing assets hampered our business activities. This data vacuum drove the company to focus on data acquisition. Efforts have been made to verify base information of assets.  IWK’s strategic approach has been to focus on asset data integrity, systems to manage data and transform the data into information. Follow up to that, developing decision making tools to enable the information to be processed to knowledge and as a basis for decisions and actions relating to assets and service delivery.

Hence, the spatial and non-spatial information about the asset is crucial in making any decision and planning. Using GIS is a great aid in graphically presenting geo-referenced information and using it as an enabler for decision making.

Can you brief us about IGIS and what all systems are being integrated with it?

IGIS represents a high level GIS system with graphical & data linkage and appropriate interfacing between map entities and databases to enable integration of spatial and attribute related sewerage information. We constantly update, verify, monitor and crosscheck the data to ensure the quality of our sewerage assets data and this helps by integrating IGIS with other IWK systems,  such as the:

  • Asset Management Information System (AMIS) – this has the details of all treatment plants such as location, treatment plant type, population type,etc
  • Industrial Finance System (IFS) – has the details of all enterprise resources management system that includes Financial, Asset Maintenance, Purchasing and Business Reporting modules
  • Billing Record and Information System (BRAINS)–this  has the details of all IWK customers and is used to bill customers for sewerage services and to log customer’s billing enquiries, customer service, collection and debt management
  • Customer Operational Enquiry and Desludging System (COEDS) – this manages operational enquiries and is used to log customer’s operational enquiries, issue job orders, record work details and invoices detail
  • Laboratory Management System (LMS) – this system records and monitors sampling of effluent from IWK’s treatment plants.

Have you done any internal study on the Return on Investment (RoI) after implementing geospatial technology in your business?

Currently, we have yet to conduct a detail study on the RoI of using geospatial technology in terms of how much we have saved or can save due to proper planning through GIS and so on. However, we are convinced that our operations have become more focused and efficient through the use of such technologies.

Which are the future areas of application that IWK is looking at?

While GIS offers a platform for accessing various types of business data, integrating work orders, updating network information and finding customer information, a GIS driven analysis can also help identify future demand trends and thus help IWK in planning ahead of time.

In IWK, currently GIS is mainly used for planning purposes; however we are working on various innovative methods. We are currently looking at:

  • GIS integration with Early Warning System and Electronic Security System located at our plants – to have a dashboard with icons and to know the exact location if an alarm is triggered
  • GIS integration with a Hydraulic Modelling System – with data accuracy from GIS, analysis such as determination of system capacities, development of what-if scenarios  and planning improvements will be more valuable
  • GIS integration with Asset Risk Management System – visual display of asset-related risks and show hotspot especially for sewer network assets
  • Integration of GIS with SAP(ERP System) – IWK is currently embarking into the SAP World and will be the first in South East Asia to implement the Linear Asset Module (module to manage asset such as sewer network, pipeline, etc).

Tell us more about the integration with SAP.

The Linear Asset Module will be integrated with GIS to conduct geospatial analysis for linear assets as well as for visualisation purpose. Besides that, we will also be implementing Mobile Workforce Module in order to assist our field-based employees by eliminating paperwork and provide them with handheld gadgets with GIS functions installed.  This will:

  • Increase productivity –capture  data without added burden
  • Cost saving in administration
  • Provide user with good data and information on asset at site
  • Faster response
  • Better decision making