A System of Support

April 2, 2018

About the author: Robert Hinz is manager of engineering services for Koch Membrane Systems. Hinz can be reached at 978.694.7000 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Signing up with Koch Membrane Systems’ (KMS) ASSIST Service & Support Package gave the town of Franklin, Mass., just what it needed to keep its water treatment plant running at top performance. The municipality is now able to provide high-quality water to the thirsty inhabitants of this popular, fast-growing Boston suburb.

Franklin’s new drinking water filtration system was designed by KMS in 2005. The KMS ASSIST Service & Support program began in 2008, giving the town a customizable menu of support options that includes pretreatment, cleaning, remote monitoring and a parts and maintenance program.

The package is a win-win proposition for the town, keeping costs down, providing quick access to necessary servicing and proactive system maintenance advice. Having the service and support available provides the city and its operators access to expert emergency phone and rapid onsite support.

KMS has upgraded its remote monitoring capabilities and is establishing a state-of-the-art monitoring facility in a section of its engineering building in Wilmington, Mass. These improvements will enhance the company’s ability to help customers and operators optimize their system performance, equipment uptime and maintenance and extend the mean time between failures.

Sustaining a Growing Community

The town of Franklin is located in southeastern Massachusetts, about 35 miles southwest of Boston and less than 20 miles north of Providence, R.I. The town’s fast-growing community of about 30,000 residents is projected to eventually exceed 40,000. The rapid population growth in the area has strained water resources. The town continues to seek new sources, but state policies limit water use and state permission is required for large water consumption.

These water limitations required Franklin to construct a new water treatment plant, which came online late in 2005. The plant allows Franklin’s municipal wells to pump much closer to their legal and physical capacities, which had been limited severely by high iron and manganese content. While not a health concern, the reddish water tasted bad and stained clothing and plumbing fixtures.

The newly commissioned water treatment plant has a capacity of 1.2 million gal per day and uses a two-stage, hollow-fiber ultrafiltration (UF) system designed to separate larger-size solutes from aqueous solutions using a semipermeable membrane. The UF retains oils, particulate matter, bacteria and suspended solids with large macromolecules and proteins. The UF system is PLC-controlled with customized software that integrates with the town’s system and can be operated remotely. While the design of the system ensures that a plant operator is not required to be on site 24/7, a certified operator is always required to manage any drinking water plant.

Partnering for Success

“The plant has been online for more than three years, and we went through the startup and warrantee periods fairly smoothly,” said Alfred Boone, Franklin’s water and sewer superintendent. “About a year ago, we saw the need to have technical support for the sophisticated control software and the human-machine interface screen. Occasionally, the operator could not reset some element of the system, or perhaps there was a false diagnosis with the membranes. We needed immediate response but were outside of the service period in our initial contract. KMS suggested its newly formulated KMS ASSIST Service & Support program, and we have been working with KMS to ensure the program meets our requirements.”

Robert Hinz, KMS manager of engineering services, recognized the need for a service model that works for both the customer and KMS.

“We had been working on developing a cost-effective program that bundles component pricing reductions for purchased parts with service calls. Our goal was to offer this to the customer with the guarantee that we could provide a KMS service engineer on site within 72 hours or sooner under urgent conditions.”

Working with the town of Franklin, KMS expanded its existing program into a full-fledged customizable system providing problem reduction and preventative maintenance.

“One of the benefits of having KMS ASSIST Service & Support is that it allows the town to simply call KMS and say, ‘Hey, we need a part. When can you get it to us?’ And we can virtually ship it out that day,” Hinz said. KMS benefits by obtaining pre-approval of small purchases to eliminate delays.

To increase efficiency and keep the Franklin plant up and running under all circumstances, KMS installed a secure dial-in phone line that it uses to access the system, retrieve data, analyze process problems and give the town recommendations.

“When our technicians get to the site, they are already fully prepared for actions they may need to take, which helps us quickly resolve the problem our customer is faced with,” Hinz said.

“We are extremely pleased with how the KMS ASSIST Service & Support package has worked for us,” said Public Works Director Robert A. Cantoreggi. “Keeping our plant operating means we don’t have to incur additional costs and inconvenience by purchasing water from another town while our system is sitting idle. We’ve been getting onsite service within 24 hours of our call, for the most part. Also, we have put into place purchasing mechanisms that get us our parts in a timely fashion. Just recently, our HMI screen went down and within 12 hours we had a new screen and went back up online.”

New Standard for the Industry

KMS is now moving toward using this model for similar water plants. In parallel, the company is planning on incorporating the KMS ASSIST remote monitoring feature into all of its PURON membrane bioreactor systems.

KMS is now in the process of establishing an advanced monitoring station at its facility in Wilmington to serve as the KMS ASSIST Service & Support nerve center. There will be multiple monitor screens where process and field service engineers can review customer system data in historical and real time to recognize trends proactively and suggest solutions before they become problems.

The new facility is a way for KMS to add real value to its customers by helping them save money by staying ahead of maintenance issues. The package goes a long way to ensuring that the town of Franklin can continue to provide current and future residents and businesses with clean and plentiful water.

About the Author

Robert Hinz

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