Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) of Birmingham, Ala., has consistently achieved the rating of the number-five water system in the United States...
According to Stephen E. Filippi, Director of the Public Works Division, the
City of Pocatello will retain the services of Insightek to install a remote
monitoring system capable of predicting equipment problems long before they
result in a loss of service. Insightek is a recently formed start-up company
that was founded with an innovative service concept: using the Internet to
deliver forecasts of where and when a process or system is likely to fail.
"We currently send inspectors into the field three times a day to make sure
that our lift stations are functioning properly," noted Mr. Filippi.
"Nevertheless, you can't fix a problem you can't detect, and our goal in the
Insightek test is to explore a way of more efficiently utilizing our
maintenance staff while simultaneously improving the reliability of our lift
pump system. Hopefully, the end result is better service at a lower cost."
The Insightek test will involve the installation of advanced sensing devices
that measure a variety of operational parameters. The sensors will monitor
the pumps as they are running, and will look at factors such as pumping
efficiency and signs of impending system failure. This information will be
transmitted through a wireless communications network to an Internet site
that can be accessed by Public Works' maintenance staff.
"The more frequently you can monitor the operation of a critical system, the
more likely you are to prevent a breakdown of that system -- but at some
point, the costs of doing so begin to outweigh the advantages," said Fred
Templeton, Insightek co-founder. "The benefits of our remote monitoring
technology are that we can sample operational data frequently enough to see
patterns that predict when a problem may occur, and deploy resources on that
basis. This represents a much better use of the City's maintenance staff."
Insightek's technology is currently being tested in other applications,
including agriculture. In an experiment conducted at the University of Idaho
Kimberly Potato Storage Research Facility, an Insightek system is monitoring
the chemical by-products of disease and decay among stored potatoes.
Information regarding the status of the potatoes in various zones throughout
the storage area is graphically communicated to end-users through an
Internet site, relying on complex software algorithms to determine the
likelihood of spoilage long before it can be detected by the human nose.
Ultimately, Templeton believes Insightek can revolutionize the way companies
and agencies think about preventive maintenance. "If you can allocate your
resources based on an accurate prediction of when a problem might occur, you
can reduce the current cost structure associated with maintenance and