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WWTP Return on Investment: 'Is What We Are Doing Giving the Best Return?'

A blower at a wastewater treatment plant.
For the past eight years, Saul Cisek has been Lead Maintenance Planner for Virginia's Upper Occoquan Service Authority (UOSA).  As wikipedia notes and presents in a table, "UOSA operates under the Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) Permit...issued by the department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)," the limitations of which, "are among the most stringent in the State of Virginia and possibly the United States."

With successful adherence to these high standards as his professional bona fides, Cisek presented "Predictive Maintenance ROI for Waste Water Treatment Facilities" in July 2011 on ReliabilityWeb.com, an outstandingly useful, "specialty publishing company focused on information delivery of articles, videos, audio podcasts, case studies, iPresentation tutorials, web workshops, benchmark data, tips, and how-to information for maintenance and reliability professionals."

"Predictive Maintenance (PdM)," Cisek states, "adds great value and helps to navigate in an inconsistent, illogical, and disorganized world.  PdM after all is simply using scientific tools to help determine asset condition.  The top tool for most machines is vibration analysis, [but] adding other technologies (ultra-sound, oil analysis, thermal, and electrical analysis) can enhance the results."

Cisek notes that consistent record-keeping is crucial in enabling managers to accurately measure return on investment (ROI).  "having data for costs for acquisition, power consumption and upkeep will aid finance departments in valuation and improve making decisions of when to replace versus when to repair."

The key to maintaining infrastructure and successful PdM is not technology so much as the people using it.  "Develop stakeholders, not just technicians." Cisek advises.  "Train them and allow them to create their own work plans.  If they identify imminent equipment failure, plan, schedule, and execute the fix.  This will help them feel empowered and want to dig deeper for more savings."  And, their knowledge and experience make PdM such a powerful maintenance strategy.

"The PdM technician/engineer is essentially an asset actuary.  For them failure modes are second nature.  They know the common failure modes of their equipment....They know the crash points.  They understand when to launch corrective actions."

Using a blower failure as a practical example , Cisek reviews procedures for assessing gains and losses, noting, "The math for this process is basic, but the substantial knowledge of the enterprise is complex."

He concludes, "The foregoing principles are largely self-evident.  The goal of this piece is to put them into a memorable form for action."  And, he reminds maintenance managers that not everything has a value measured in dollars: "The quest of ROI is not simply saving money.  Additional benefits include improved safety and reliability."

Photo by Christopher Shannon/KCF Technologies.  All rights reserved.

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