Leading managers of critical infrastructure in Australia recently gathered in Sydney to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the asset management industry, at a conference attended by asset owners, utilities and senior figures from within the utility sector.

Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure was held from 16-17 August at the Swissotel in Sydney, providing more than 70 members of the asset management community with an opportunity to learn from the industry’s best, network with clients and colleagues and discover some of the latest innovations when it comes to the art of managing critical infrastructure.

Debating the key issues

The expert panel of speakers lined up for the event was spearheaded by two keynotes – Steve Doran, Director of Infrastream and Chair of the Sydney Chapter of the Asset Management Council, and Antony Sprigg, CEO of the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia.

Mr Doran’s keynote presentation, Leading innovation in asset management, kicked off day one of the conference.

According to Mr Doran, strong industry competition and shareholder perception that companies are not future-proofing are two of the critical reasons why innovation has become a necessity for today’s asset managers, rather than a luxury.

Mr Doran warned delegates that they needed to consider risks such as their traditional technologies becoming obsolete, and more agile start-ups providing more cost-effective solutions when weighing up how heavily to invest in innovative new methods of managing assets.

Antony Sprigg’s keynote presentation provided the opening for day two of the conference, with his presentation focusing on The role for ‘sustainability’ to inform and evaluate asset management for critical infrastructure.

According to Mr Sprigg, the last few years have seen a shift in industry attitudes towards sustainable thinking when it comes to our assets, and in his presentation he explored the role a sustainable approach to asset management should play in Australia’s future.

Mr Sprigg urged companies to think about sustainability as an essential part of their planning, rather than just something extra.

The asset owner’s perspective

The keynote presentations were supported by a number of speakers who directly manage assets themselves.

Peter Harcus, General Manager of Asset Strategy Gas at Jemena, discussed recent changes in Australia’s energy landscape which have led to Jemena adapting its approach to managing pipelines.

Also providing the asset owner’s perspective was Paul Higham, Head of Service Planning and Asset Strategy at Sydney Water, who explored the way in which a consumer-centric view of asset management can drive innovation for the water sector.

Representing the rail industry was Michael Killeen, Asset Manager at NSW TrainLink, who explored the topic Establishing the desired balance of cost, risk and performance in his presentation.

Panel discussions get to the heart of the issues

The program for Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure included two panel sessions, allowing speakers to interact and freely discuss some of the key issues they face on a daily basis.

On day one, the speakers representing asset owners participated in the Predictive Maintenance Panel, where they discussed some of the techniques they’re all using to predictively maintain their assets.

On day two, delegates enjoyed the Innovation Panel, led by Andrew McAlpine, Asset Performance and Systems Manager at TransGrid, and comprised of keynote speaker Steve Doran, Keith Paintin, Principal Consultant Asset Management at Jacobs and Greg Tyrrell, the Executive Director of the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems (AAUS).

During this session, the panelists considered how innovative asset owners currently are when it comes to the management of their assets, and discussed some of the innovative technologies they are each excited about.

Establishing industry connections

The speed networking session allowed delegates to make new connections within the industry

Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure allowed delegates plenty of time to network and get to know other members of the asset management community a bit better.

On day one, delegates participated in a formal networking session in the form of the Speed Networking session.

During this session, all delegates had the chance to meet many of their fellow delegates, and compare notes on their individual roles within the industry, the useful information they’d picked up during the sessions so far, and to consider potential opportunities to work together in the future.

Feedback from delegates from this session was particularly positive, with many noting that the timing of the session – right before lunch on day one – allowed particularly fruitful conversations to continue and go into further detail over the extended break.

At the close of day one, delegates also enjoyed a more informal networking drinks, where they were able to continue conversations started in the speed networking and meal break sessions in a relaxed environment.

With plenty of opportunities to connect with colleagues, combined with the intimate nature of the event, delegates left the event particularly pleased with the new connections they were able to make over the two day event.

The inaugural Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure was a highly successful event, with delegates commenting on the quality of the speakers, the depth of the presentations and the surplus of networking opportunities as the key benefits of attending the event.

The second annual Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure will be held again in August next year – keep reading Utility in print and online so you can stay up to date with all of the details about next year’s event, and head to for more information.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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