Project Description

Wastewater treatment plant wins after upgrading and integrating a CMMS

Customer Since: 2015 | Industry: Energy

Much like manufacturing facilities, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) face growing challenges, including stricter compliance regulations, aging equipment, outdated technology and rising energy costs. WWTPs are always looking for better ways to treat used water responsibly and to efficiently manage solid waste disposal.

After adding a biosolids dryer facility (BDF) to address challenges, upgrading the existing software made sense to ensure proper operation and maintenance of the complex assets.

The need for efficient operations and innovative solutions

In 2016, the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) was established to operate, improve, comply with environmental regulations and set budgets for the municipal water and sewage treatment plant for the City of Detroit and its communities. After closely examining the facility’s short- and long-term needs, the GLWA decided to add a Biosolids Dryer Facility (BDF). BDFs treat sludge and reduce wastewater solids volume through heat drying (dewatering), resulting in a reusable end-product: Class A Exceptional Quality (EQ) biosolid. These EQ biosolids meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. They can be used as farm and vegetable garden fertilizer.

The GLWA contracted with the New England Fertilizer Company (NEFCO) to design, build and operate the BDF. Along with expanded end uses for the dried biosolids—including bulk land application, fertilizer blending, land reclamation and alternative fuels (cement kilns, power generation, renewable fuel)—the BDF would have superior emission, noise and odor control systems.

The GLWA Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF), serves 40% of Michigan’s population, three million people. Before the BDF, the total solids generated by the plant averaged 450 dry tons per day, which were disposed of using incineration (67%), landfills (22%) and land application (11%). The city projected annual operations and maintenance (O&M) savings of $16.9 million with the BFD, a 20-year O&M savings of $337.3 million (in 2013 dollars) and an 8.5-year payback period on the $143 million capital investment in the facility.

Tap the experts

NEFCO brought considerable experience in building, commissioning and running BDF facilities to the project. To complement the new BDF, NEFCO wanted to upgrade the existing computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) to increase the cost-saving benefits offered by newer, technologically advanced systems.

In addition to compatibility with the existing GLWA system and the ability to keep pace with growth and changing requirements, the CMMS had to offer preventive maintenance scheduling capabilities; tracking functions, including corrective emergency maintenance tracking; and the incorporation of a coded identification system to inventory all loose and packaged items.

The CMMS provider had to guarantee that the system could be installed and operational 30 days before the completion of the facility’s first three dryer trains. Using detailed research and team input, NEFCO prioritized and weighed critical factors to make its final decision.

Challenge the CMMS

In addition to upgrading the CMMS to meet the needs of the greenfield GLWA plant, NEFCO’s planned to standardize and optimize operations at several legacy plants. Selecting the most suitable and capable CMMS for one entity can be daunting. Selecting one to handle and adapt to six different plants multiplied the decision-making criteria.

The upgraded CMMS would need to be populated with crucial data while providing an accurate picture of the organization’s present status and maintenance processes to achieve the desired stability and consistency and meet NEFCO’s corporate improvement goals.

Secure a trained and enthusiastic team

Early on, NEFCO engaged with key legacy plant personnel and other stakeholders. By soliciting their input, the company ensured a smoother transition to the new CMMS and helped secure support to effectively implement the new system. Once the final candidate was chosen, the NEFCO team prioritized work assignments into manageable, achievable pieces and worked with the new CMMS provider to offer online and onsite training.

Begin with a baseline

The Quincy, Massachusetts, plant’s legacy maintenance management system was chosen to build the baseline for the new eMaint CMMS. Facility-specific forms were created to incorporate the system with legacy plants.

Once NEFCO’s new CMMS became operational, plant managers took full advantage of its broad features, from ordering supplies and tracking spare parts, to using reports and dashboards to analyze key business metrics, such as mean time between failure and mean time to repair.

At the innovative GLWA plant, mechanics use tablets to review standard operating procedures and enter the completion of field work orders with electronic signatures. Personnel can easily tap into the central data system to show how they complied with maintenance regulations to meet strict industry standards. The new CMMS’s tracking abilities can instantly provide accurate maintenance histories to help personnel decide whether to replace or repair assets.

Ultimately, NEFCO’s CMMS choice reduced operational costs by providing a way to strategically and accurately input, optimize and apply valuable data to control short- and long-term maintenance activities, with the goal of increasing asset life cycles while effectively expanding to meet future growth and technological advances.

“eMaint is our state-of-the-practice CMMS. It allows us to track key business metrics, helps us comply with environmental standards, and ensure work is completed on-schedule. About 100 employees interact with eMaint, and everyone in NEFCO appreciates eMaint’s ease of use and 24/7 access.”

Bill Hollman, Corporate Operations Manager, NEFCO