Getting a jump on pump maintenance to reduce costs and improve resilience

Water Operational Analytics

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Wellington Water’s mission is to manage the drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater services of the council owners in Petone, Wellington, New Zealand, where the utility is based. Wellington Water supplies more than 160 million liters of water per day to Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Porirua, and Wellington, and 4.1 million liters of water per day to Greytown, Featherston, Martinborough, and Porirua. In Wellington, 154 million liters of wastewater goes to the four treatment plants every single day. To improve pump maintenance and service to 418,000 in and around Wellington, the utility trialed Info360 Insight from Autodesk as part of a solution with Stantec.

Wellington, New Zealand

Predictive maintenance to improve efficiency

Wellington Water prides itself on its deep in-house knowledge of water infrastructure services management. That knowledge is used to deliver service efficiently and cost-effectively, including maintaining the utility’s 259 pump stations in Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt, Wellington, and South Wairarapa.

Leaks in the water network and stormwater inflow and infiltration (I&I) into the wastewater network threaten efficiency and raise costs. Wellington Water takes a proactive approach to maintenance, monitoring pumps for problems before pumps fail or pipes leak. However, in the past, being proactive can have a price: Some pump refurbishments were undertaken based on standard usage metrics or when a noise or vibration was identified during routine maintenance.

In many cases, when the pump casing was opened, the pump was in good condition. Therefore, refurbishment maintenance without deeper data analysis is inefficient: It usually causes unplanned expenditure, is time-consuming, and increases operational risk. It may also mean having only one pump available during unforeseen periods of repairs.

Pump performance dashboard in Info360 Insight.

Sharing data and generating insights

Stantec is a global professional services company with 17 New Zealand offices, and a skilled water team assisting with issues such as equipment modernization and optimization. Senior Mechanical Engineer James Curtis and the team in New Zealand have been consulting with Wellington Water on an overall pump modernization project.

“Optimization is a common project for our clients,” Curtis explains. “When you optimize the pumps, you benefit from peak efficiency. And by achieving peak efficiency, you also achieve 100% of your asset life.” Given Wellington Water’s investment in pump infrastructure, realizing return on investment was critical.

The challenge was delivering that ROI, beginning with Wellington Water’s maintenance program. The answer was data. However, the data generated by the utility’s SCADA systems was raw and not easily shareable—it sat largely in spreadsheets in separate stand-alone systems, increasing the difficulty of delivering a single version of the truth.

Data-sharing across teams

Curtis and his colleagues at Stantec trialed Info360 Insight to help Wellington Water develop a preventative asset maintenance program. Using Info360 Insight, the utility could maximize its vast storehouse of raw SCADA data to better understand its operational performance.

Curtis saw value in using Info360 Insight to reduce performance failures and improve efficiency. Instead of sharing raw SCADA data, Wellington Water could feed the data into a solution that included analytics and modeling, capital planning, asset management, and operational performance. The utility could share the water performance data across teams such operations, planning, modelling, and asset management.

“By using their own data, they could have more control over the results, and the utility could be more transparent,” Curtis says. And instead of dozens of easily losable spreadsheets or paper reports, Wellington Water engineers and operations managers could view the same data in the same dashboards.

Stantec and Info360 Insight deliver a plan of action

Stantec worked alongside Wellington Water to develop a methodology for their preventive asset maintenance program. First, they identified the need to establish real-time direct connections to incoming data instead of relying on manual downloads. These connections enabled standardization of internal pump performance calculations and the expansion of pump performance analysis to include factors like seasonality considerations. With this methodology in place, templated project calculations were able to be scaled to remaining sections of the water infrastructure network for future analysis and project work.

Using Info360 Insight, Stantec applied their methodology to build a holistic preventive asset maintenance solution that eliminates the need to search for data in separate spreadsheets or SCADA systems. Wellington Water engineers are now set up to use Info360 Insight to forecast maintenance requirements, understand system design and performance, confirm that assets are operating as expected and are right for the site, and validate capacity flows, pressures, and model calibration. The solution has been essential in helping the team meet service goals and reduce carbon emissions with a smooth running, reliable plant.

“People need to know which assets are in trouble and how they should fix problems. There’s a good deal of value in a pump performance dashboard with simple metrics and visuals, telling you what to prioritize.”

--James Curtis, Senior Mechanical Engineer, Stantec

Delivering through analysis

Stantec brought its team’s extensive water infrastructure knowledge to the Info360 Insight templates and dashboards to incorporate four phases:

  • Sourcing and configuring data capture. Gap analysis on the instrumentation and telemetry are made available for each pump so they can be prioritized for monitoring based on energy use and criticality. Info360 Insight supports this by automating data collection and integrating data from multiple data sources.
  • Establishing pump performance metrics. Typical metrics would include preferred operating, outage, high variation in pump hours, and catchment growth.
  • Analyzing for operational insights. Info360 Insight dashboards display the performance metrics derived from telemetry and field test data.
  • Using insights for action. Typical actions might be pump overhaul timing based on actual condition and would preferentially operate the most-efficient pump combinations and speeds.

Electricity cost savings at 20%

Based on the trial solution Stantec built in Info360 Insight, Wellington Water estimated they would experience approximately 20% savings in electricity costs. In addition, the utility is saving costs associated with doing maintenance only when it’s needed and with the reduction of field tests needed to assess pump condition.

The utility adopts a proactive maintenance for pumps, and has also improved its operational resilience. Now, detection of failing pumps or other performance issues occurs before the problem impacts service to customers. Measuring the potential for functional failure from performance deterioration allows the water utility to proactively intervene with pump refurbishment or renewal.

As Curtis explains, the benefits of proactive asset maintenance go beyond lower electric bills. “Energy savings translate to reduced carbon emissions,” he says. “Plus, engineers gain knowledge around pump system performance. And they have a high potential for detecting red-flag pump problems before there’s loss of performance.”

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