Make Your Operational Data Work for You

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September 20, 2018 | Jay Nelson

It’s no secret, the water industry is poised to undergo a profound evolution. The advancement of internet of things (IoT) applications to the water industry with smart sensors, field telemetry, and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) has provided an unprecedented amount of information in the form of big data to water systems managers.

But large data sets without clear insight do not always lead to confident decision-making and action. On the other hand, if used correctly, these technological leaps can and will have a wide-ranging impact on utility intelligence and operational efficiency.

Sourcing the right data, for the right key performance indicators (KPIs)

Implementing a smart sensor system to acquire, a telemetry system to send, and a SCADA historian to house data relevant to wet infrastructure performance is the first step in developing a data-driven operational strategy.

Then, once a system is configured to provide a constant stream of data it is essential that it is thoroughly analyzed for trends and actionable insight based on the right KPIs. This is where operational analytics comes into play.

Whether it’s a daily calculation of an Infrastructure Leakage Index (ILI) for water loss control, a comparative monitor of gallons per minute (gpm) pumped between similar assets, or a reconciliation of pump run times against energy tariffs, measuring and visualizing the right metrics can be the strongest catalysts in driving action.

A proper operational analytics solution, like Info360, makes this easy by taking harvested data, as well as weather forecast data, and employing mass balance calculations and biz block technology to automate KPI visualization in a rich and accessible dashboard format. Selected components of these dashboards can automatically populate reports that become readily available to stakeholders including operators, engineers, and system managers.

This leads to a current, holistic understanding of what is going on in water and wastewater systems in any given moment. No longer is SCADA data left in the historian untouched or used in yearly (or longer) intervals with the sole purpose of model calibration. It becomes an indispensable daily tool that provides real-time insight into zone-specific system performance.

Turning insight into action

Once the right KPIs are measured in near real-time, they can directly inform improved operational action. With Info360, signs of abnormal system performance automatically trigger alerts that are sent to operators via text or email – facilitating a quick communication of operations and maintenance (O&M) needs from the control room to field crews.

Assets that exhibit varying levels of performance – even if they exist in comparable environments – can be tracked for flow, pressure, or energy use anomalies. This informs whether it may be more cost-effective to replace an existing asset or to let it run until its end of useful life, thus connecting operational data to effective asset management planning.

Rather than becoming inundated by data and being left to make assumptions for operational strategy, activating O&M data from SCADA to work for operators is invaluable in providing a clear path for action.

This improved operational strategy, founded on real-time data acquisition and analytics, enables system operators to act confidently. As such, they are enabled to employ strategies that have both a positive impact on utility finances and an improved delivery of service to ratepayers.

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About the Authors

Jay Nelson

Jay Nelson

Marketing Content Manager


Digital technologies have the chance to change the way the world uses water. Jay is a Content Manager at Innovyze and writes about how the top challenges faced by water management professionals can be overcome using smart analytics.