Dec 09, 2003

A Standing Ovation

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 *

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

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

“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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