Wastewater Plant Software Upgrade Delivers Manufacturing Intelligence

August 20, 2012

Software Upgrade Delivers Manufacturing Intelligence Resulting in Hidden Efficiencies and Cost Savings

The Project

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.

The water/wastewater operation enlisted Grantek, a 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.

The Opportunity – Increased Production Visibility through Manufacturing Intelligence

Gaining increased production visibility through manufacturing intelligence implementation 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.

Grantek’s Solution to Achieve Operational Excellence

Grantek’s solution is centered on FactoryTalk VantagePoint software from Rockwell Automation. FactoryTalk VantagePoint software taps into information from systems across operations that has been automatically identified, gathered and stored by FactoryTalk Historian software – including systems developed by a number of different vendors and varying widely in age.

The FactoryTalk VantagePoint 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.

“Our ultimate goal for any operation is to build a system that provides accurate, real-time information to decision-makers. 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,” says Michael Lohmeyer, Grantek VP, Sales.

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.

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