Water Wastewater Plant Software Upgrade Wrings New, Actionable Information Flow from Legacy Hardware

May 17, 2012
FactoryTalk VantagePoint software reveals hidden efficiencies and cost savings in water treatment

Every enterprise wants to improve. Those that succeed do so by understanding where they are today and mapping out a clear path to achieving better results for tomorrow. Undertaking this journey demands technologies that provide accurate, actionable information. But more often than not, facilities have a mix of legacy systems from a variety of vendors that make accessing the data needed for improvements more difficult than ever.

Recently, a Canadian water wastewater operation that encompasses six separate treatment plants recognized its need to not only increase visibility into existing systems, but spot trends that would help them better predict their production needs. Because a range of issues might diminish a plant’s ability to deliver water supply – from flow issues and spiking electrical usage to greater-than-average demands by one water user on the network – the operation needed real-time visibility into factors that affect flow. Gaining this information would allow the facility to react to specific issues affecting the fluctuation in demand, without having to risk inaccuracy by “guessing.”

The facility also sought a way to improve the accuracy and efficiency of data collection and reporting. The existing reporting system relied on daily log sheets assembled by local operators from six different treatment plants. The forms often contained anecdotal information rather than actual or comprehensive metrics. Not only was this manual process extremely time-consuming, it also limited managers’ ability to take immediate action on problems.

The utility enlisted Grantek, an Ontario-based systems integrator and its partner, Rockwell Automation, to identify areas in need of improvement and implement a manufacturing intelligence strategy that could help them reduce risk of downtime and optimize operations. Grantek’s solution utilizes FactoryTalk VantagePoint software to tap into information from systems across the operation. These systems have been automatically identified, gathered and stored by FactoryTalk Historian software. The application provides visibility into production by putting all this data into context through a Web-based reporting tool that gives users a comprehensive picture of the factors contributing to the performance of their operations.

By marrying FactoryTalk VantagePoint software with the specific information demands of the water wastewater operation, Grantek modeled the physical units of the facility (high lift pumps, intake pumps, e.g.) and plant processes (chlorination, filtration, e.g.), logged those names into a library, and created drag and drop functionality that provided for a quick and easy migration. The software was scalable and compatible with the operation’s legacy systems, and leveraged the enhanced visibility and reporting capabilities inherent in the application.

Grantek’s solution also provided easy-to-use reporting on key performance indicators, enabling users – whether operator, line supervisor, plant manager or executive – to hone in on the suitable level of detail for their role. Because the FactoryTalk VantagePoint user experience is very intuitive, the water/wastewater operators can now access role-appropriate information with a simple click-through on the Web-based system.

“Role-appropriate visualization is critical to creating value for our customers,” says Rick Hargreaves, Grantek regional manager. “While an operator needs particular information to make quick decisions on the floor, a manager may only seek high-level dashboard displays that allows taking measure of the whole system with a quick glance.”

The software further simplified the water/wastewater plant’s systems management by eliminating the need to know where the data came from. Information seekers no longer need to jump through complex data management hoops to find necessary information.

“Water facilities use a lot of chemicals,” Hargreaves explains. “Want to know how much? We created a reference tag that combines data from all the chlorine monitors across the enterprise with the click of a mouse. It significantly enhances an operator’s ability to access information with very little training.”

In a regulated industry, the ability to quickly provide information is critical to avoiding downtime, fines, or worse. FactoryTalk VantagePoint software changed the water/wastewater operation’s information gathering and reporting process from a four day ordeal, consuming an average of 2 to 4 people to about a half-hour of a single employee’s time.

In addition to saving valuable time, the water wastewater facility benefited from a solution that reveals hidden inefficiencies. After Grantek used FactoryTalk VantagePoint to create a billing system for the facility to replace its manual entry spreadsheet system, management found a $100,000 billing error that had previously gone unobserved.

“Our ultimate goal for any operation is to build a system that provides accurate, real-time information to decision-makers,” says Hargreaves. “We know from experience that FactoryTalk VantagePoint software can fix the problems our customers bring to us, but it can also fix problems they don’t even realize they have. It’s this access to data that empowers operators with the ability to make improvements that ultimately save time, money and create a culture that promotes continuous plant improvement.”

For more information, view the on-demand webcast here or join us at RSTechED to learn how you can leverage the power of manufacturing intelligence to optimize your operations. Session selection guide available here

FactoryTalk and Rockwell Software are trademarks of Rockwell Automation, Inc.

Trademarks not belonging to Rockwell Automation are property of their respective companies.

Companies in this Article

Sponsored Recommendations

Measurement instrumentation for improving hydrogen storage and transport

Hydrogen provides a decarbonization opportunity. Learn more about maximizing the potential of hydrogen.

Learn About: Micro Motion™ 4700 Config I/O Coriolis Transmitter

An Advanced Transmitter that Expands Connectivity

Learn about: Micro Motion G-Series Coriolis Flow and Density Meters

The Micro Motion G-Series is designed to help you access the benefits of Coriolis technology even when available space is limited.

Micro Motion 4700 Coriolis Configurable Inputs and Outputs Transmitter

The Micro Motion 4700 Coriolis Transmitter offers a compact C1D1 (Zone 1) housing. Bluetooth and Smart Meter Verification are available.