A Standing Ovation

April 2, 2018
New process control system revolutionizes production at Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District

Emerson Process Management

Power & Water Solutions

200 Beta Dr. * Pittsburgh, PA 15238

Phone 412/963-4851 * www.emersonprocess.com

Municipal infrastructure improvement projects are often called “public-private partnerships.”

However, few municipalities take the partnering language in contracts to the level the Sacramento (Calif.) Regional County Sanitation District (SRCSD) has.

The Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant (SRWTP) treats an average of 180 mgd of wastewater--440 million gallons during wet weather and peak flow, and serves approximately one million people in Sacramento County.

The wastewater treatment facility’s original process control system, installed in 1982, was challenged. Among the problems, it had no redundancy and no mechanism for automatic restart when power was lost. When SRCSD set out to replace the aging system, plant managers would only accept a centralized system designed and programmed through a true partnership with the supplier and engineering consultant.

SRCSD had two specific needs for the project: to involve its staff in programming the new system and to minimize installation time. When writing the project specifications, SRCSD not only included a “partnering” clause in the contract, but also focused on that clause--a choice that brought its new distributed control system online seven months ahead of schedule.

“We wrote our spec as a dream list,” said Bill Hendrix, SRCSD project manager. “We’ve always had partnering language in our contracts, but never really made sure that partnering happened.”

Time saver

SRCSD and design consultant EMA Services Inc. chose the third partner, the Power & Water Solutions industry center of Emerson Process Management, to supply the Ovation Expert Control System for SRWTP. Ovation is the first control system to offer real-time, mission-critical control on a PC platform.

The three groups held regular partnering meetings. In their first meeting, prior to the contract negotiations, the three groups identified individual and shared goals for the projects and defined the elements of success and the advantages of a partnership. They looked at characteristics of the best and worst negotiations and each partner’s strengths. Schedules were set for negotiations, and information on the old and new systems was exchanged.

“We had workshops about every four months, and some additional social get-togethers to foster the partnership,” Hendrix said.

To meet SRCSD’s goal of training staff to be self-sufficient with its new Ovation system, Emerson set up a training facility, as well as its factory floor testing process, adjacent to the plant. This made it possible for the municipality to save money on travel costs while training more staff.

As the project moved along, the time invested in partnership activities allowed the group to work through pitfalls and challenges at a quicker pace and avoided the need to interpret the contract for each issue. It also provided for easier solutions to technical issues and the ability to maneuver work schedules to meet project needs. The time saved through the partnering process resulted in a shorter installation period than SRCSD had asked for in its “dream spec.”

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