Bringing Accessible AI to the Water World

Press Release – July 8, 2020

Three cutting-edge water technology firms, Westin Technology Solutions, Eramosa Engineering, and Pani Energy, are launching an exciting new partnership that will bring the Digital Operator Coach™, an artificial intelligence tool for the water industry, to utilities across North America. Joining Westin and Eramosa’s years of experience in smart data for utilities and Pani’s ground-breaking AI research & development makes implementing the Digital Operator Coach™ an essential for the modern utility. In today’s rapidly shifting world, safe, efficient, and digital water treatment is essential. With social distancing requirements, increased remote work, and growing water quality and safety standards, a tool that makes operators’ jobs easier is more relevant and beneficial than ever.

The Digital Operator Coach is a SAAS solution for desalination and wastewater treatment optimization that tackles water scarcity and global emissions. The Coach helps operators make the right decisions at the right time. The result is reduced energy consumption, chemical costs, plant downtime, and equipment wear across entire plants. By combining the Digital Operator Coach with eRIS Data Hub, plants can reach their optimal performance with increased essential infrastructure resilience and peak plant function chemically, environmental, and equipment-wise.

Pani, Westin, and Eramosa are aiming to pilot this exciting new solution in ten pioneering North American Municipal Wastewater facilities with a funded six-month implementation. This will carve the path for other utilities and raise awareness of the benefits of this digital tool.

Westin Technology Solutions

Westin Technology Solutions was founded in 1981 to assist utilities in addressing the unique challenge of automating their facilities and ensuring their control systems are both functional and effective. Since our genesis, we have gained international recognition by partnering with utilities to align their systems with their business strategies, planning and executing technical programs, and implementing and maximizing control systems. Westin Technology Solutions has successfully met the unique needs of organizations both large and small; we have assisted clients in some of the largest and most innovative system design, development, and implementation projects in the industry. Our staff includes former utility employees who know firsthand the effective and efficient use of comprehensive systems in daily operations. Westin commits to understand our customer’s uncertainties; using our expertise to leverage technology for improvements in affordability, resilience, sustainability and other critical challenges of tomorrow’s utility.

Eramosa

Eramosa is a consulting engineering firm in North America providing control system engineering, SCADA, automation, OT/IT technology solutions to help operations teams operate more effectively. Founded in 1998 Eramosa has been providing water/wastewater sector and renewable energy clients leading edge technology solutions to help align our client’s operations with their business drivers and to bridge the gap between the plant floor and the corporate environment. Eramosa provides SCADA and IT/OT master planning services to assist our clients in creating alignment within their organization around technology implementation. Our team works not only with leading water utilities and renewable energy companies, we also partner with many of the forward-thinking consulting firms across North America to provide integrated smart water solutions to our clients.

Pani Energy

Pani Energy was founded with the spirit of research within the halls of the University of Victoria’s Engineering and Chemistry department. Pani Energy’s founder Devesh brought two passionate research groups together to innovate and develop interdisciplinary technologies that would enable a significant reduction in the cost of producing fresh water from non-fresh sources. Pani Energy was founded and spun-out with the backing of years of research, alongside Dr. Ian Maconald and Dr. Tom Fyles, who sprinted towards bringing these technologies from the academic world to commercialization. Since these early days, intellectual curiosity has remained embodied in Pani Energy’s ethos. Pursuing this early passion for R&D has led to the creation of our software and hardware technologies, for both the water and energy industries. Pani continues R&D in the energy and water nexus, with interests in improving efficiencies through software and novel hardware system designs in desalination and large-scale energy storage, building upon adaptive and intelligent membrane process design and operation.

For more information, please contact Eramosa or Pani Energy at eris@yourinformationsmarter.com or check out the project website at https://yourinformationsmarter.com/digital-operator-coach.

OPERATING DIGITALLY: Bringing data together for operational excellence

As published in INFLUENTS – Spring 2020, Volume 15

INTRODUCTION

Running municipal water and wastewater systems in the 21st century is a challenge. New technologies, an explosion in sensor equipment, and updated instrumentation and data collection methods produce a vast amount of information stored in diverse places. Because new regulatory mandates require additional sampling and laboratory analysis, existing applications must change to capture increasing amounts of data. Using limited or outdated tools, workers are stretched thin managing these new challenges.

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DURHAM’S ON FIRE: e.RIS Monitored Tags & Optimized Incineration

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Empowering operators is the key

As Duffin Creek’s current facility managers see it, their job is to empower operators at the plant to make decisions that both contribute to on-going treatment objectives and positively affect the financial bottom line. They spend lots of time fostering teamwork and proactive decision making.


“With manual monitoring, these questions were difficult to answer”


One of Duffin Creek WPCP’s major plant processes is incineration. With normal plant operations, sludge is a natural byproduct that needs disposal. Just like a charcoal grill needs lighter fluid to get a fire going, Duffin Creek’s incinerators periodically need fuel oil to ensure sludge cake combustion is complete.

The four plant incinerators use a significant amount of fuel oil each year, at a high cost. “How much fuel oil do you anticipate using?” and “Can you cut back?” were frequent questions from the finance department. With manual monitoring, these were difficult questions to answer.


Anticipated Annual Savings
$120,000
10% Reduction in Green House Gases (GHG)


In order to improve and disseminate information that was available sporadically through traditional channels, the facility managers decided to leverage the power of e.RIS to optimize the plant’s incineration processes.

e.RIS in action

First, facility management determined the precise questions they were trying to answer. Before they began using e.RIS for monitoring, they only knew if their reactors were running. However, this wasn’t nearly precise enough. Knowing when the reactor is running autogenously (without additional fuel oil) and when fuel is needed to keep the fire going would be much more exact. None of this information was available on the existing operating engineer SCADA screen. Operators were limited to a snapshot of things like temperature and fuel feed.


“The visualization power of e.RIS shows relationships”


With the visualization power of e.RIS, it was immediately clear that there was a relationship between sludge dryness and fuel oil use. The data showed that the dryness of the sludge cake (ideally 24%) determined  the amount of fuel oil the  reactor needed to maintain the combustion process within emission regulatory limits. If facility management staff could figure out a way to monitor when the reactor was running self- sufficiently (and when it was not), they could begin to act in the service of efficiency.

Monitored tags were the ideal solution. This feature in e.RIS allows users to create certain conditions for constant observation. When the data meets these conditions, users can be automatically notified. This saves an operator or manager the tedious work of manual monitoring.

Facility management staff worked to determine applicable conditions. They decided that if their autogenous burn percentage was greater than 85 percent, they were satisfied. However, if that rate was less than 85 percent, investigative and corrective action is needed. They further specified this condition to account for the current sludge cake density. The beauty of e.RIS lies in the ability to apply conditions intelligently— the data would only be flagged if it was true for more than two days and would be ignored when the reactors were offline. Facility management staff was clear about one objective: “We want to proactively look at our operations, not just troubleshoot.” With e.RIS, the exact tags, sampling frequencies, and intervals needed for a specific perspective could be chosen.


“The power of e.RIS is huge”


The next step was building customized workflows for each condition. e.RIS emails these workflows to the right people when a flag occurs. Because the tool is built for busy people, notifications are uniquely individual. There is an option to add notifications at any point in the flagging process. An operator wants to be notified on their cell? No problem— both mobile and email notifications are possible.

To assist operators and incineration engineers in returning operations to an autogenous state as expediently as possible, pre-configured troubleshooting methodologies were created and attached to the workflow notifications. The notifications are key. “Notifications are awesome because first thing in the morning you can know if there’s an issue. That lets you get the autogenous burn back on track,” one manager says.

Real-time monitoring for long-term benefits

Easy action with notifications and workflows got Duffin Creek on the path to optimal autogenous burn rate. In addition, with e.RIS, the plant operators and supervisory staff have real-time data at their fingertips. Though, everyone is hungry for more data, some questioned, “What is the actual, tangible benefit?”

Optimizing Duffin Creek’s reactors for autogenous burning has the potential to save the facility significant amounts of money. Prior to Monitored Tags with e.RIS, management had no real way to proactively determine the oil (and money) reactors were burning. Though the SCADA system monitored fuel oil consumption and financial data was available monthly, any efforts to review fuel oil consumption were strictly reactive. Additionally, there was no way to see the process conditions at the time of the fuel oil addition. “Now Duffin Creek WPCP can actually identify the amount of money we spend operating outside the autogenous zone,” facility managers proudly proclaim. Proactive investigation in e.RIS is already saving money.

One of Durham’s core pillars is sustainability. Day to day at the plant, however, it can be hard to keep this at the forefront of operations. By striving for an 85 percent autogenous burn rate, the Duffin Creek WPCP stands to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions tremendously. Preliminary observations indicate that if this benchmark is consistently met, the facility can reduce CO2 emissions by ten percent. Next, Duffin Creek hopes to explore the potential electricity savings of a consistent state of autogenous operations. Environmental wins both benefit the corporate bottom line and assist in contributing to Durham’s commitment to reducing greenhouse contributions.

A victory for the team

The benefits are clear— and all of this comes from the simple monitoring of two tags in e.RIS. But the financial and environmental benefits don’t even begin to capture the new team unity.


“Teams operate in unison”


By identifying a problem and solving it in e.RIS, stationary engineers and operations staff are empowered with the knowledge and skills to work together. Before e.RIS, the dewatering operation team and incineration stationary engineers had limited interaction which was predominately focused on sludge delivery (not quality). When delivery was interrupted, their only communication was a phone call. Now, these teams operate in unison. When the incineration process is being supplemented with fuel oil, both teams receive notifications in their inbox that foster increased cross team interaction. This improved communication and information sharing encourages and enables the front line staff to identify and implement corrective actions that would normally be in the supervisory realm. An individual’s ability to contribute to the ‘bottom line’ is easily visualized in e.RIS and the team is motivated to reach beyond what was possible before.

e.RIS at the Pinnacle of European Expansion

Utilities globally are struggling with data woes, inefficient systems, and the rising costs of energy. While e.RIS is a solution for many common problems organizations face, the ability to implement the product has thus far been limited to North America. Brace yourself: this is about to change.

We are excited to announce a new partnership with Sypro Ltd., a corporation similarly invested in tangible results and long term efficiency. Partnering with businesses and organizations in the private and public sectors, Sypro helps design new systems and processes to transform operations. They also advise and implement changes that make measurable improvements to their client’s environmental and financial performance. Sypro is committed to energy conservation to save time and money and provides assistance in several different areas to this end.

As an official e.RIS reseller, Sypro will have a new tool in their arsenal that aims to save utilities time and money. Sypro will allow e.RIS to reach utilities in both the UK and mainland Europe bringing the benefits of data analysis to a wider audience.

Join us in welcoming this group of professionals to the e.RIS team.

CIOReview commends Eramosa’s work empowering utilities with e.RIS

As a leading magazine in the field of technology, CIOReview seeks to assist organizations in filtering through the myriad solutions in the cluttered innovation landscape. As a platform that highlights groundbreaking new methods, e.RIS is a natural fit. CIOReview selected Eramosa as one 2019’s twenty most promising utility technology solution providers. They spoke with Tim Sutherns, Eramosa’s board chair, to get his take on what makes e.RIS different and how it can spur the adoption of machine learning.

When faced with the data storm so many utilities encounter, Eramosa found a solution.

Instead of data islands, e.RIS integrates all organization data, from as many sources as necessary, into one platform. Sutherns says, “…we bridge [the] gap and bring a solution to the market to help make effective decisions.”  

Armed with the power of unified data, utilities can confidently implement cutting edge artificial intelligence tools. Working smarter, not harder, is the key to the efficient, thriving organization.   

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City of Hamilton: ISA 18.2 – Alarm Management KPIs

Following a review of the City’s alarms within their SCADA system the City determined that having the ability to assess their SCADA system alarms using the ISA 18.2 – Alarm Management KPIs would improve their operational efficiency.

By using e.RIS, Hamilton is able to setup the ISA 18.2 – Alarm Management KPIs on their e.RIS dashboards. This allows the operation and management teams to quickly assess the condition of their control system and gives them visibility on the number of alarms in SCADA including KPIs such as the number of alarms per 10-minute period, bad actors and alarm flood conditions. Through the increased visibility the City can easily tackle cleaning up their nuisance alarms thus improving the overall operability of the system.

The City now has greater visibility into the alarms originating from their SCADA system and can review process setpoints, issue work orders to address equipment and instrumentation creating nuisance alarms, and has obtained a much greater understanding of their control system, all from implementing e.RIS.

https://www.isa.org/store/ansi/isa-182-2016,-management-of-alarm-systems-for-the-process-industries/46962374

Regional Municipality of Halton: Electronic Logbooks – Improving Decision Making

The Regional Municipality of Halton has been using e.RIS for a number of years to assist with compliance reporting, data entry and process reporting. By using e.RIS Halton has moved to an almost paperless organization in these areas. One key area remains – operational logbooks. Working with the e.RIS team and in consultation with other municipalities, Halton lead the design effort of a new electronic logbook in e.RIS that would not only meet their requirements of the paper logbook, but exceed them.

By using e.RIS, Halton is able to create highly accessible and searchable electronic logbooks that improve the quality of the entries made by the operations team. To provide greater context, logbook entries can be enhanced with attachments such as photos, videos and audio files. By using electronic logbooks, Halton turned a simple historical compliance tool into an operational decision-making tool available at their fingertips.

Using e.RIS electronic logbooks allows Halton to use this information alongside various other data sets that e.RIS accesses; including data that is manually entered, captured in their laboratory information management system (LIMS), SCADA historians, or from other external sources such as energy and environmental systems. All of this information is then easily managed, analyzed and visualized using e.RIS.

CEO Award Winner : Industry, Energy + Resources

The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is responsible for operating and maintaining the power plant and energy systems at three hospitals and four medical centres in the London, Ontario area.

LHSC chose e.RIS to assist them in getting on track with their energy management.  Being able to pull together data from a number of sources, both internal to LHSC and externally from their vendors, allowed them to easily manage, analyze and then visualize the data as actionable information, allowing them to identify opportunities to reduce their operational costs.

For more information you can access the article from Accolades Volume 13, 2018 here.

City of Red Deer : Data Driven Decision Making

The City of Red Deer water treatment plant operations team has used e.RIS as their process reporting and data visualization tool for a number of years. Recently, they expanded their use of e.RIS to include several additional features. The plant laboratory team was storing and analyzing results observed in the laboratory using pen and paper. Now they use e.RIS manual data entry forms and calculations to record and store laboratory results. With this shift in the data collection and storage of laboratory data, plant maintenance staff are now able to utilize the laboratory results in new and innovative ways. The maintenance staff are able to create reports that compare SCADA historian data with laboratory results and flag any differences between the two readings. When differences reach predefined thresholds, maintenance staff know that plant analyzers need to be calibrated.

By using e.RIS, the City of Red Deer maintenance staff were able to shift their calibration schedule from a simple time-based method to a data driven calibration schedule. This change resulted in costs savings by reducing unneeded calibrations, made identification of less reliable analyzers easier, and moved the organization more towards knowledge-based, data driven decision making.

The water quality data collected by the laboratory was originally only going to be used for operational compliance but because the data was so easily accessible in e.RIS, the maintenance staff was able to find additional benefits by visualizing both laboratory and SCADA data in a single location. Through e.RIS, the City of Red Deer’s water treatment plant maintenance staff continue to meet the strict quality of service requirements demanded of them while continuously improving their operations through the availability of more accessible data.

City of Saginaw: Creating a Link from Assets to Capital Plans

Implementing a single Enterprise Asset Management system can be difficult. Often groups in the organization have legitimate reasons to keep their own systems, and finding a solution that meets everyone’s requirements equally well is nearly impossible. The City of Saginaw recognized this reality, yet this did not remove the state’s permit mandate to implement an asset management plan.

Instead of trying to implement a single asset management system, the City decided to do more with their existing systems and leave the enterprise integration of asset data to e.RIS. Working collaboratively, the City and Eramosa are developing a robust Asset Management Tool in e.RIS that provides a single access point to asset data stored in several assets systems and their geographic information system (GIS). The data from the source systems is then enhanced using calculations and analysis tools in e.RIS. The most appropriate assets can then be selected for repair or replacement using City developed algorithms coded into e.RIS and grouped into projects and capital plans for action and approval.

The result will be a single source of valuable asset information leveraged from existing sources and enhanced through powerful tools in e.RIS.