Improved Data Collection
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.
By marrying FactoryTalk VantagePoint software with the specific information demands of the water/wastewater operation, Grantek modeled the physical units of the facility (highlift 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.
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."