Olsson Associates

Articles

Olsson-developed software helps protect public dollars

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sarah Ferdico, Communications

A maintenance manual is useless if it’s buried under a pile on a desk or if newly designed parts are never updated in the manual.

And what about that time when a mechanic in the field is in the middle of a preventative maintenance procedure, wishing he had more documentation? Olsson Associates has designed a solution—a solution the Lincoln Wastewater System (LWWS) division has benefitted from.

Olsson’s Automation and Technology team has evolved LWWS’s operations and maintenance manuals from shelved binders to a fully automated, accessible-from-anywhere, interactive system. The web-based solution makes operations and maintenance documents accessible anytime, anywhere, and it keeps the documents up to date. (For a larger view of the screen shot to the left, please click here.)

Operations and maintenance documents are invaluable to utility departments across the country. Every time Olsson completes a project for LWWS, one of the deliverables is the operations and maintenance manuals for the equipment. These manuals inform staff members not only how to operate the equipment, but also how to service and maintain it.

“Operations and maintenance manuals contain very important information for utility companies,” said Warren Humphrey, team leader for Lincoln’s Automation and Technology team. “In the past, staff had to go to a binder on a shelf or put a CD into a computer to learn about such things as how often bearings should be serviced or what the number was for a replacement part.

“As a medium- to large-size facility, LWWS had challenges tracking the information,” Warren continued. “Someone walks off with the manual or CD to use it and they don’t put it back. With multiple copies of manuals out there, some may have notes in it or updated with information in one copy but not the other, and now you have two versions of it.”

Warren said these and other challenges were very frustrating for Steve Crisler, superintendent of water pollution and control facilities at LWWS.

Steve said that, as a result of numerous treatment facility improvements and expansions LWWS had commissioned, the agency was operating and maintaining more technically advanced treatment processes and systems. Over the past 15 years, the number of equipment assets in LWWS's facilities increased by over 40 percent. Even more challenging was that, during this same period of time, LWWS's staff was reduced from 50 to 34 people.

"Lincoln is no different than most municipally owned wastewater treatment facilities that are tasked with 'doing more with less,'" Steve said. "It was absolutely crucial that we have a better, more effective, and more efficient way of accessing and utilizing the operation and maintenance materials and the information they provide to fully support the efforts of our staff to achieve the complete life cycle of the wastewater treatment facilities."

Warren said that Steve is a champion of protecting the millions of taxpayer dollars in utility assets that his team was responsible for. Steve turned to Olsson in 2013 for a cost-effective solution.

“It’s very obvious Steve cares about properly maintaining the equipment at LWWS—it’s something he’s passionate about, and he does a phenomenal job.”

As an alternative to the commercially available products that could cost users hundreds of thousands of dollars when fully implemented, Olsson’s solution was simple, effective, and something the city could maintain on its own. Olsson built the site’s framework so that users could upload documents, and the information would appear on the web pages. Warren said that no html expertise is needed because everything is automatically done behind the scenes. LWWS also doesn’t have to buy and maintain licenses commonly required with commercially available products, he said.

With the Olsson-designed system, LWWS can have its own staff members populate the site with information that’s appropriate and important to them, and they have complete control over the system. Since the system is web based, LWWS staff members can access it from any network-connected computer device.

Olsson turned the website’s administration over to LWWS in May, and staff members have been steadily populating the site. Olsson has been available to answer any technical questions LWWS staff members may have.

Steve said he's excited to begin implementing the new system into LWWS's maintenance program and operation.

"I am certain [the system] will enhance our overall abilities and complement our computerized maintenance management system to provide a comprehensive approach to operations and maintenance," Steve said.

Warren said this technology can be applied to an organization that needs a structured, available-anywhere solution for their documents or information. It is not limited only to operations and maintenance uses because the system could also be used to store drawings, pictures, and virtually anything electronic.

“This core technology is already developed, and it would be simple to apply it to an agency’s needs,” Warren said. “For anyone who is held responsible for maintaining equipment, you can’t do it without good documentation. This software helps accomplish that.”

For more information regarding Olsson’s web-based electronic operations and maintenance software, please contact Warren at 402.458.5942 or whumphrey@olssonassociates.com.

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