We live in a world where only 3 percent of the water is considered usable. Of this 3 percent, almost 2/3 is locked up in glaciers and icecaps leaving approximately 1 percent of usable water located in groundwater sources. These groundwater sources provide water for homes, agriculture, and businesses. With a constantly increasing demand for water , it is imperative that water efficiency be improved especially for areas such as wastewater facilities management. As our wastewater management infrastructure ages, maintenance of these systems can be improved using CMMS software.

Modern urban wastewater treatment plant.

Wastewater Systems

Wastewater systems are critical for two reasons. First wastewater treatment plants are designed to minimize the amount of contaminants in water placed back in the environment. Without treatment groundwater would be injected with harmful and toxic contaminants. Secondly, modern wastewater treatment plants can separate sewage into greywater and blackwater. Greywater can be used to provide water for agriculture be recycled water for toilets flushing or lawns etc.

“Efficient water use can have major environmental, public health, and economic benefits by helping to improve water quality, maintain aquatic ecosystems, and protect drinking water resources… . Water efficiency is one way of addressing water quality and quantity goals. The efficient use of water can also prevent pollution by reducing wastewater flows, recycling industrial process water, reclaiming wastewater, and using less energy.”

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

As our wastewater plants and the assets age, water efficiency is reduced as a result of corrosion due to methanogenesis and hydrogen sulphide and wear and tear. Leaks, part failures and poor maintenance can cause unnecessary water loss, compromise the water quality and reduce the useful asset lifecycle.

CMMS Counters the Effects of Aging on Wastewater Systems

Without the proper management tools, aging wastewater system maintenance can quickly get out of hand sliding quickly into a purely reactive maintenance and repair operation. A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) will help management regain control of the maintenance process by transforming manual or inefficient work order processes into automated streamlined operations. By eliminating paperflow and scheduling all MRO, maintenance teams will have more time to address preventive maintenance tasks such as inspections and minor repairs.

Inspections and preventive maintenance will sharply reduce the number of unplanned maintenance repairs by catching the problem before asset failure takes place. A good rule of thumb is maintenance work orders should be 80% proactive and 20% reactive. For example, wastewater plant inspections can be performed using mobile handheld devices pre-programmed with a set of questions. Results can be transmitted via by the handheld directly back to management who can issue a work order and authorize maintenance on the spot. The time saved from filling out paperwork and going back to the office to write a work request can be used to identify other leaks or work on faulty valves etc.

The impact of the CMMS solution is more than just labor efficiency, automation and a reduction in major repairs. The early identification of leaks, corrosion or potential asset failures can greatly reduce the amount of contaminated water leaking seeping into groundwater supplies. Just as important is that a CMMS based maintenance program will increase the energy efficiency of assets by making sure they are properly maintained. Most wastewater treatment plants have equipment that handles sludge, aeration, scum removal and other filtration components, tanks and disposal equipment. Preventive maintenance enables these assets to operate as they were designed to operate. When assets are not maintained they require more energy to accomplish the same tasks.

Implementing a CMMS Solution

To achieve the desired goal, the CMMS creates a database of all assets in a wastewater plant. The CMMS database consist of all asset information such as location, description, date of purchase, install date, costs, maintenance history, what was done, who performed the work, how long it took and results of the work order. The CMMS will also track all work request and results. The information generated by the CMMS software will enable management to more accurately identify assets with an increasing maintenance history so that inspections and/or preventive maintenance actions can be taken.

The goal of any good CMMS program is to enable wastewater facilities management to do more with the same amount of resources. When implemented properly, the CMMS database keeps you informed of the status of all assets enabling intelligent decision making for the available maintenance resources. Combined with the work order lifecyle management, assets will last longer and run better. A CMMS brings is a tool no wastewater plant can go without.

Tell us how you combat the age and deterioration of your wastewater plants. If you liked this article you may also want to read: