GE Intelligent Platforms (NYSE: GE) announced that the City of Cincinnati’s Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) has standardized its Proficy Software platform for optimizing its wet weather facilities, equipment and operations. Proficy solutions will assist the city’s management in bringing together disparate pieces of information about their wastewater system from remote locations to provide a system-wide view of what’s really happening across their watersheds.
Cincinnati prides itself on being on the forefront of using technology to make things better in its community. The MSD will be working with GE Intelligent Platforms and its integration and solutions partner, Gray Matter Systems, located in Cincinnati, to apply Proficy Software to new and industry-leading solutions that can be replicated by other wastewater utilities faced with combined sewer overflows.
“We like to push the envelope and spur new technologies -- computer technologies or control structures -- whatever it takes,” said Tony Parrott, Director of Water and Sewers, for the City of Cincinnati. “Not only does this enable us to meet our own needs but there’s something to be said about developing new capabilities and solutions to improve water quality that can be leveraged by other CSO communities across the country. That’s powerful stuff – we’re not only solving problems here with technology, but nationally as well as others implement similar platforms.”
One of the key aims of the project is to aid in the reduction of discharges from combined sewer overflows as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water Act. Under the Act, cities are required to reduce and, in some cases, stop releases of untreated wastewater into the environment through combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows. These requirements apply to every wastewater system in the country and have dramatic implications for systems in older communities which have significant overflow occurrences.
The MSD will be utilizing the full suite of Proficy Software including GE’s Industrial Automation Solutions like Proficy iFIX, Historian and CSense, as well as the company’s new mobile applications, such as Proficy Mobile to capture data on excess water produced during periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt, which can exceed the capacity of the sewer system or treatment plant and result in discharge of pollutants into nearby streams, rivers or other bodies of water. The city is also at the forefront by using Proficy Workflow integrated with its CMMS system for real-time condition-based asset management, creating work orders on the fly for faster response.
“If we are to use the traditional approach – just build infrastructure – that’s a significant cost,” said Parrott. “Not only would we incur the cost of constructing bigger pipes and storage tanks, but those assets have associated maintenance costs as well. Wet weather operational optimization will complement our capital program, allowing us to accelerate water quality improvements and reduce costs with technology.“
“GE is on a development path that closely aligns with the utility’s needs today and into the future,” said Bernie Anger, General Manager for GE Intelligent Platforms. “Our goal every day is to make the Industrial Internet real for our customers. The Proficy software suite will position MSD to leverage the best available technologies for wet weather operational optimization, build on the existing technology platform and allow for accelerated implementation of analytics and decision support tools.”
Utilizing the Data Management & Analytics solutions available in the Proficy suite of software products, the MSD will be able to take technology a step further and introduce data analytics that would help to identify the optimal way to manage flows through their system and take advantage of the existing system capacity. With software technology the MSD is also reducing its total cost of ownership. They won’t have as many new assets to own and maintain down the road. And, they won’t have to deal with long term sustainability, which is ultimately the cost of infrastructure.
“If we’re able to successfully do this – reduce overflows at costs lower than just relying on capital projects,” concluded Parrott, “then imagine the cost savings for the community and ultimately across the entire wastewater industry.”
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