Simplifying Decision-Making

The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) processes one-quarter of New Jersey’s wastewater, an average influent flow of 330 million gal per day. It is a large, complex operation that depends on accurate, real-time data for day-to-day decision-making.

By investing the necessary time and capital to upgrade its aging, proprietary process control system (PCS), the utility now has plant-wide access to all of its key operational data through e-OPS, a proprietary system designed by consultants from EMA.

The automated, web-based system collects real-time data from the PCS, laboratory information management system (LIMS) and other enterprise systems. Staff can make intelligent, informed operating decisions, either in the plant or from a remote location.

Overcoming data isolation

Among the primary goals of the upgrade was the creation of a secure data-sharing environment that would eliminate spreadsheets. Web-based technologies, data warehousing tools and object-oriented programming techniques now enable access to data from many diverse systems in an intelligent, interrelated manner. Data can be shared widely without affecting the performance of sensitive operations.

PVSC used a web-based front end to a common data store (e-OPS) for well-defined subsets of data from the plant’s PCS, LIMS, industrial monitoring and control system, financial information system, computerized work management system and trucked-in liquid waste tracking system.

There are a number of database links established for use by the database server to allow data retrieval from PVSC enterprise systems. Data sources include six WonderWare area servers, which collect plant process data. WonderWare stores its data in a Microsoft SQL Server-based database with proprietary extensions that provide local operators with local data trending displays.

A subset of plant data is retrieved from the data historian and transferred to the database server by the JAVA data collector program every 15 minutes. This
provides users with recent process data without giving them direct PCS access. Similar techniques are used to harvest subsets of data from other key systems. The data is inserted into the database by each of these collectors, where it is aggregated and stored for integration and retrieval.

Simple, centralized data access

The web browser makes the new system possible. A typical user opens a browser and navigates to the e-OPS home page, where the user signs in with an ID and password. Privileges are limited by assigned permission levels. Users have access to reports that are presented based on their specific needs. Report formats include web-based, presentation-quality for printing, spreadsheet or PDF files. These are available in tabular or line graph formats and can be e-mailed.

The benefits are obvious, including one-time data entry and a single point of access to multiple systems, preservation of system security and integrity of individual PVSC systems (including a full audit trail), and easier integration of new data sources. Regulatory reporting processes are now automated. The bottom-line result is improved data management and overall operations.

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