City of Westminster, Colorado
Water utility crews often juggle siloed technologies to manage specialized work activities, from valve maintenance and inspections to hydrant repair and flushing.
The City of Westminster implemented a new mobile app that reduces manual data entry and streamlines workflows.
Lauren Walcott is always seeking new ways to streamline work and maximize resources for the City of Westminster, Colorado. She works as the infrastructure asset management coordinator for the Department of Public Works and Utilities, which manages 33,000 metered accounts for 112,000 people within the city for water, potable water, wastewater, and reclaimed water. That entails complex workflows for water treatment and wastewater treatment, as well as field operations.
The Westminster field crews were already using E.H. Wachs valve exerciser to operate valves when the city adopted Cityworks in 2019 as the asset management solution across the organization.
“Crews were essentially getting a reading from E.H. Wachs that they had to hand type into Cityworks,” says Walcott. “They asked me if there was a way the two products could talk to each other. We learned that Cityworks and Trimble were offering an integration with E.H. Wachs that could automate existing workflows.”
Implementing the Solution
The solution was Trimble Unity Mobile for Cityworks, a new mobile application that improves end-to-end services, optimizes asset data collection, and manages workflows for water and wastewater utilities. The average age in the Westminster valve operations crew is 25 years old, and “they’re always down to try new technology and integrations,” says Walcott. “So, we jumped on board.”
The app works seamlessly with Cityworks AMS, providing a plug-and-play solution for streamlined data collection and condition assessment workflows. On Windows devices, the app supports an integration with E.H. Wachs to eliminate the manual entry of valve exercising data and key performance indicators. It also helps simplify the amount of hardware carried by field crews.
“This integration reduced the time previously spent hand typing and the human error of manual data entry,” says Walcott. “The tool assesses how much torque is being used and reads that right into the system, as well as number of turns and additional data about the valve.”
Cityworks products and the new Trimble Unity Mobile app are built on a common platform of Esri technology, allowing users to access the same data across the entire Cityworks platform as well as in web maps, ArcGIS Dashboards, ArcGIS Insights and more. With this tight coupling of technology, field users and office users are able to view the data for infrastructure and workflows in real-time.
The app supports high accuracy GPS positioning when integrated with Trimble GNSS receivers (Trimble R-series). This allows users to collect accurate location data at the same time they are performing mandatory inspections—saving time and personnel resources while improving the quality of the organization’s geodatabase. Adding Trimble Unity Remote Monitoring (RM) also enables field technicians to manage and install Telog IoT devices to help organizations monitor asset performance data in the field.
Walcott also likes that Trimble Unity Mobile for Cityworks can work offline in areas within the city without good cellular reception. Once the crew is back in network range, they can sync the data for immediate access in the Cityworks platform.
Improving Data Quality
Organizations that use the integrated solution report as much as 30 to 40 percent improvement in operational efficiencies. For example, Trimble Unity Mobile for Cityworks has made Walcott’s system administrator duties easier.
“Any time there’s a pre-canned integration like this with existing software, I don’t have to spend time installing new products or making some other external system talk to Cityworks,” she says. “It’s a win for me because it’s more of a ‘deploy and go’ solution. It minimizes the overhead. We have other integrations that aren’t that way. It’s a lot more work making sure things stay up to date and still communicate. When integrations are part of the Cityworks system, I can spend time on other innovations or workflows instead of keeping everything together with duct tape.”
Trueman Sanchez, a utilities operator, explains that Trimble Unity Mobile for Cityworks is user-friendly. “We did one training session together and Lauren wrote up a cheat sheet. We never ran into any issues after that.”
“This app makes things easier because we can now do all of our data entry and valve exercising from one spot instead of multiple interfaces,” says Mark Uhland, distribution maintenance team foreman.
The ability for the utility to integrate digitization with the enterprise asset management system and GIS ensures valuable information is not lost. Data quality fuels more informed decisions on repair prioritization and capital planning.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees had to work independently rather than as crews to take pressure readings off of the hydrants.
“When we dug into our hand-typed data, we found a lot of ‘guesstimating,’” notes Walcott. “Data is not helpful to us if we don't trust it—if we don’t think it’s accurate. Now with Trimble Unity Mobile for Cityworks we're more confident in our data and can make smarter decisions and better use of funding. Trustworthy data is a huge benefit. We put a lot of value in that.”
The data captured in Trimble Unity and stored in Cityworks is then visualized in Microsoft PowerBI to track maintenance program performance.
Trimble Unity shows area-specific valves needing maintenance.
By Carol Brzozowski, Cityworks Contributing Writer