Track assets and consumption

In this installment of What Works, the city of Des Moines generates six-figure savings with sustainability technology.

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The treatment facility operated by the Wastewater Reclamation Authority (WRA) in Des Moines, Iowa, processes wastewater from 17 different counties, municipalities and sewer districts. Serving a population of approximately 560,000 residents, the WRA produces high-quality, recycled wastewater that is discharged to the Des Moines River.

lead bill millerBill Miller, the enterprise asset management (EAM) asset sustainability maintenance administrator for the WRA, had initially proposed the idea of implementing an asset sustainability application to help the facility efficiently maintain its equipment, locations, and assets. Due to its uniqueness and industry-specific capabilities, decision makers selected Infor EAM Energy Performance Management for the project. The WRA’s goals for the initiative included integrating data between the new application and its existing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and Hach Wims water management applications. Additional objectives were to establish and configure energy and condition monitoring capabilities and to analyze asset energy usage trends to detect excessive energy use and help reduce costs. By identifying potential savings opportunities using sustainability technology, the facility would be better-equipped to meet all maintenance requirements within its current budget.

Implementation of the application began in July 2010 and was completed in January 2011. Project leaders first established maintenance best practices and then set up and configured Infor EAM Energy Performance Management around the best practice model before integrating the solution with the existing systems. These steps helped to minimize implementation challenges and allowed the WRA to become the first facility in North America in the water and wastewater field to achieve PAS 55 certification, which is a designation recognizing the optimal management of physical assets.

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Only six months after deployment, the WRA was able to decrease energy usage by 100,000 kWh using its new asset sustainability technology. Noting that the facility accounts for 50% of the local city government’s power costs, this resulted in significant overall savings for the City of Des Moines.

“Prior to this project, we were not aware that certain process air blowers in our facility were running more often and less efficiently than others,” says Miller. “Now we have the real-time data to monitor each blower individually to ensure all are running at the optimum level, saving significant energy.”

By enabling in-depth asset analysis and data capture, the WRA has developed more efficient asset maintenance plans to help prolong asset lifespans and ensure more timely equipment upkeep. With consolidated, real-time information access, automated alerts, and advanced reporting capabilities, the facility can now compile custom physical condition lifecycle reports, which combine data on work order histories, energy consumption, facility conditions, and inspections, delivering a complete picture of the WRA’s operations. This provides engineering and finance users with critical information necessary to schedule asset maintenance and replacements that will optimize efficiency and eliminate avoidable costs.

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Since the initial implementation, the facility has integrated several major systems with the solution and is currently tracking 50% of its total monthly energy consumption down to the individual asset level. To date, the WRA has realized annual savings of $200,000 and increased overall energy efficiency and maintenance productivity by 25%. The facility also improved productive (wrench) time for maintenance technicians to repair or replace assets from 20% to 75%, compared to an industry average of 30-50%.

“We are currently working to integrate the asset sustainability application with our building maintenance system, which will allow us to monitor additional components such as our HVAC unit,” says Miller. “The WRA has also established a goal to expand our use of advanced analytics to track asset consumption on a minute-by-minute basis. This will help us to make further process adjustments to shave off additional energy use.”

The facility is in the process of installing sensors on each asset, which will automatically record and exchange data with the EAM system. This will provide visibility into the subcomponents of equipment, allowing the WRA to pinpoint the specific part within an asset that requires maintenance. If sensors indicate a reading that is outside the minimum or maximum trending range, users will receive an automated alert detailing the exact asset and component that should be examined. Currently the WRA is also in the process of implementing Infor Ming.le, a social business application that will enable employees to “follow” assets within the facility. This will provide a central platform where users can collaborate and view in-context intelligence regarding maintenance and energy use.

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Because of its innovative and successful use of sustainability technology, the WRA received the Governor of Iowa's Environmental Excellence Award in 2010 for energy efficiency improvement and was recommended for the same award from the Midwest Governor's Association. The WRA has also received numerous grants to further its sustainability initiatives, which have helped to replace approximately $1 million in variable frequency drives (VFDs) and 50 inefficient electric motors within the facility.

“There is considerable pressure for local governments to reduce their costs and carbon footprints,” says Miller. “Pursuing a sustainability initiative, based on a reliable technology platform, is the most effective way to reduce energy consumption and expenses and enhance environmental responsibility.”

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