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Evansville Water & Sewer Utility: 4 Tactics for Managing & Organizing Vertical Assets

The Evansville Water and Sewer Utility (EWSU) draws water from the nearby Ohio River to supply water and sewer services to 65,000 customers in the metropolitan area. As a longtime Trimble Cityworks user, EWSU is well-versed in managing and tracking its horizontal water and wastewater assets.

Vertical asset data for the utility’s three water and wastewater treatment plants had historically been tracked via paper methods and work activities were being tracked through two legacy systems. Although the two asset management systems for the utility’s treatment plants were working well, neither system had a mapping component, and the asset selection process was not robust enough to consistently meet EWSU’s preventative maintenance needs.

Recognizing there was a gap between the information being collected and the assets being managed, EWSU turned to longtime trusted advisor POWER Engineers, Incorporated (POWER), to overhaul their vertical asset tracking and management procedures. Here are four ways EWSU organized its vertical asset data and plant maintenance workflows.

1. Improving Inspection Programs

The team began by converting the water treatment plants’ mechanical work activities in the legacy system to Trimble Cityworks AMS branching inspections. Branching inspections were selected since they could facilitate the robust nature of the vertical asset hierarchy and align with the Institute of Asset Management’s best practices.

Since EWSU did not have a complete GIS database for the treatment plant, the project team was able to build the assets into the branching inspection so that each system branch was exclusive. With this style of inspection, observations displayed to the user are determined by each previously selected result, allowing the user to hone in on a discrete asset or system and create a finite selection. This helps ensure accuracy of inspections by reducing the chance of choosing an incorrect asset.

Before the implementation of Trimble Cityworks, deteriorating asset conditions of water filtration were not reportable or traceable and were often communicated verbally or recorded on paper, which made it difficult to properly manage and maintain this system. To help streamline these processes, linear inspections in Trimble Cityworks were developed to capture cyclical preventative maintenance activities. Instruction and safety check observations were configured without any predefined result set and were designed to appear at the top of each observation set. This arrangement ensures the user must review the observations prior to beginning the inspection. To support the water treatment plant’s preventative maintenance needs, roughly 30 cyclical inspections were configured.

Realizing the benefits that Trimble Cityworks, Esri, and their vertical asset management system could provide, stakeholders on the wastewater side of the treatment plant requested POWER’s assistance with migrating wastewater work management practices to Trimble Cityworks. This involved an intense review and understanding of the approximately 440 separate work types within the legacy system and how those would translate into Trimble Cityworks work orders and inspections.

This migration has resulted in removing redundancy and culling the work activities down to roughly 180 total work orders and inspection templates. These inspections and work orders will tie into the new vertical asset hierarchy being developed for wastewater assets.

2. Expanding Vertically

Building on examples from similar utilities around the country, POWER constructed a vertical asset structure that was concise, promoted ease of data editing, and facilitated the future growth of the utility’s GIS data. By strategically grouping similar assets into a small number of tables (HVAC, electrical, etc.), EWSU staff can easily find specific types of equipment without having to search through an overwhelming number of tables.

Using GIS relationship classes, EWSU can quickly find all assets in an individual wastewater treatment plant or facility. Not only will this allow for reporting on all assets in a facility or site, but will also allow for future reporting to identify assets that are frequently failing or incurring an excessive cost. EWSU plans to continue expanding its GIS vertical hierarchy to make sure all inspection and asset data are cataloged in GIS, the utility’s system of record.

3. Streamlining Inspection Workflows

EWSU implemented a number of key features to help refine and streamline various workflows for their inspection programs. The utility set up its inspection program hierarchies to be location-based rather than equipment-based. This allowed the maintenance crew to follow a similar process that was originally used before the implementation of Trimble Cityworks, which included selecting a building location first instead of the equipment type. When the crew visits a location, all preventative maintenance can be done at one time in a single location, removing the need for multiple visits—making inspections and maintenance activities more efficient.

The location-based process aligns with the GIS and helps streamline inspections for the utility, making it more cost- and time-effective. This workflow allows an entire filter bed group or the entire chemical building to be inspected during one visit with each component visited representing a unique inspection observation.

Due to the concrete construction of treatment plants, the signal strength inside most plants is low, making it difficult to input inspection data from the field. EWSU solved this issue by implementing the Trimble Cityworks mobile app, which can be used in a disconnected environment and synced when back online. They also provided the teams with iPads equipped with cellular LTE connectivity. With this new setup, teams don’t have to rely on a Wi-Fi signal to conduct their inspections within the plants.

4. Planning for the Future

EWSU plans to expand its use of Trimble Cityworks and ArcGIS to encompass electrical, HVAC, and structural inspection activities. They also plan to create a vertical GIS asset model for water treatment, which would further assist in maintaining their water assets and would expand their use of Trimble Cityworks in plant management. In the near future, EWSU will perform condition scoring and weighting of inspections for each individual vertical asset.

Once all vertical assets are established and organized, EWSU plans to use Esri’s ArcGIS Field Maps to keep assets updated in the GIS. Field Maps will be useful for the utility to capture asset data in the field and can be used seamlessly with the Trimble Cityworks mobile app.

With plans to transition from the geometric network to Esri’s new Utility Network, EWSU has set a clear path for meeting its asset management goals. This will ensure the utility continues to provide safe and reliable water and sewer services to its customers for many years to come.

For a more in-depth look at EWSU’s asset management strategy watch their presentation from the 2021 Cityworks Innovate Conference.