Easily Improve Your Operational Efficiency Hint: Use Technology to Upgrade Your System
The water industry has some tough challenges to overcome, and the list is long. The first item on this list of many is, of course, an aging infrastructure along with the related leaking pipes and water loss, which also translates into substantial lost revenue.
Other challenges include retirement of experts and the loss of their knowledge and experience and the difficulty in attracting capable and talented employees to keep facilities running. Moreover, there is the population migration from rural areas to urban areas resulting in a decreased revenue base.
Keeping smaller utility plants efficiently operating is a balancing act between the available workforce and finances. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as the water & wastewater industry adopts and implements available technology. The Lake Cities Municipal Utility Authority (LCMUA) is an example of how utility authorities can use technology to improve their system’s operational efficiency even with a lean workforce.
LCMUA Use Case - Navigating the Challenges of an Aging Facility
Lake Cities Municipal Utility Authority (http://lcmua.org) is located in Lake Dallas, Texas and provides superior drinking water, fire protection, and pressure to the Shady Shores, Lake Dallas, and Hickory Creek areas (together known as the Tri-Cities). It also operates according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) standards in potable (drinking) water and sanitary sewer services. LCMUA operates 21 lift stations, 3 elevated storage tanks, 3 ground storage tanks, 10 pumps on the water side (with 3 altitude valves), and 46 sewer pumps on the wastewater side.
The reality was that LCMUA had an aging infrastructure system that needed help from top to bottom. To better manage and maintain their facility, upgrading the system was one of the organization’s biggest priorities. In addition, a large portion of LCMUA’s budget at the time was spent on call-outs, false alarms, and failing equipment. For instance, the team had to constantly send test alarms to make sure the system was still functioning, and it was common for an operator to get a call once a week that alarms were not working. Additionally, the pre-existing SCADA system was actually a combination of three competitor products, which ended up providing LCMUA personnel with three different sets of operating data. Besides requiring a unified solution for their new HMI/SCADA, the authority also required one that could handle Distributed Network Protocol (DNP3) communications and interface with existing Servelec Technologies TBox combined PLC/RTU hardware installed at every lift station, pump station, and elevated storage tank in their system.
And as with most facilities, LCMUA’s personnel are typically busy everyday working on projects such as preventative maintenance or making repairs, so they cannot monitor the operations at all times. Because this facility works with a lean workforce, they needed a solution that could give them 24/7 operational visibility and accommodate the often-remote workforce. The software solution also needed to be able to send alerts notifying personnel to pull their attention away from their daily duties to address larger, more serious issues. Consequently, to upgrade their system, LCMUA sought solutions to replace the older SCADA system, to reduce the related costs, and to ultimately manage
the facility more efficiently with a lean workforce. To tackle their challenges and achieve their goals, LCMUA first worked with system integrator WHECO Controls of Fort Worth, Texas and then completed the project with system integrator Impact Automation and Controls of the Dallas/Fort Worth area .
The Solution: Using Technology to LCMUA’s Advantage
WHECO Controls selected and deployed the following ICONICS software and installed its plant historian:
- GENESIS64™ web-based real-time HMI/SCADA suite with WebHMI™
- MobileHMI™ data mobility software suite
- AlarmWorX™64 Multimedia OPC alarm management software
- ReportWorX™ enterprise reporting, charting, and analysis software
- Hyper Historian™ high-speed, reliable, and robust plant data historian.
By using ICONICS solutions, LCMUA saw immediate value.
Realized Real-Time Benefits Through an Upgraded System
Lake Cities Municipal Utility Authority immediately realized benefits through an upgraded system with ICONICS solutions. The facility obtained a new HMI/SCADA system that met their needs for quality and maintenance within their water and wastewater system without any of the issues or data discrepancies they had experienced with their previous system. With ICONICS GENESIS64, they achieved improved secure visualization of water and sewer levels, as well as improved monitoring and control of potable water and wastewater, elevation, PSI, intrusion pumps, pump monitors/controls, pump failure status, and temperature. Moreover, as many of the organization’s operators utilize iPads in the field, ICONICS’ WebHMI and MobileHMI software enabled LCMUA’s teams to monitor and control connected systems through “Any Glass” - a user interface that delivers 2D and 3D real-time operational visualization and intelligent dashboards.
The authority now considers their visualization to be “top notch”, their alarming to be “solid”, and their data mobility to have an “impressively fast response time”, all of which were vast improvements compared to their previous system.
Fast forward a couple of years and in addition to new graphic displays and trends brought about through the software, the authority sought to further increase their team’s efficiency and collaboration with the new alarms and notifications provided through or whatever they need to do to get the problem solved. And they can make that decision very quickly. They also appreciate having a system that allows them to share the workload. For example, water alarms are sent to the water department, and wastewater alarms are sent to the wastewater department. Rather than everyone getting the same alarms all the time, the team can decide who gets what alarm when, which is extremely important as operators are not always on shift. This new software also addresses the problems of new hires or retiring operators. With the improved ability to control and manage the facility, it is easier to transfer knowledge from the retiring personnel and attract new talent. Simply put, the team is better equipped to maintain the expertise needed to run the facility efficiently.
Now that Lake Cities Municipal Utility Authority has experienced what ICONICS automation software can do, they anticipate expanding their remote worker support to further increase efficiency with more advanced capabilities such as worker location, push notifications, and priority calling. Rather than continuing to maintain a disparate, obsolete system, LCMUA made an investment in technology to improve operational efficiency and pave a path to better serve the Tri-Cities areas. Other companies in the water and wastewater industry can take LCMUA’s lead to get a handle on their own challenges moving towards more sustainable and efficient operations. And technology is key.
Want Your Operation to be More Efficient, Sustainable, and Competitive?
Learn more about how your facility can benefit from available software. Register for ICONICS Connect 2021 virtual event to discover the latest in digital and automation technology and what’s in store for the future. Visit here for complimentary, on-demand access.
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