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Water Utility Asset Management Software
Utility Management Software allows you to direct, control, and empower your staff to create a stronger, more efficient utility. From having a cohesive visualization of all your assets, with every facet of them being searchable, you will also be able to schedule work, and improve your field crew's productivity with a tool that they will love to use. Leverage the collective expertise and knowledge of every crew member in your utility.
Water Utility Management
Your customers depend on your team, to provide them safe and affordable water. Water is essential for our survival. The distribution of potable water and the collection of water naturally through stormwater solutions, or the collection of it from waste in wastewater systems is crucial to a high-quality living standard. Water is a finite resource that we must protect.
With more and higher compliance standards coming from federal organizations like the EPA, the job of the water operator has become significantly more difficult.
Especially in rural areas where they are faced with four key factors:
- Widespread Infrastructure: The majority of small to medium sized utilities actually have to maintain more feet of main lines in order to serve fewer customer which leads to greater opportunities for main breaks. With a lack of resources, they also don't have immediate access to sophisticated leak detection software or services.
- Shrinking Revenue Base: Rural towns have seen an increase in urban flight, the disappearance of high-paying middle class blue collar work, which has lead to smaller populations, lower birth rates, lower median incomes. This makes it difficult for utilities to impose the rate increases necessary to provide water service at a high-level without taking on too much municipal dept.
- High Employee Turnover: The average age of workers in the utility industry has been increasing with a high number of utility workers set to retire in the next 10 or 15 years. This coupled with the lack of talent entering into the industry, we have a labor shortage that's making it difficult for water utility operators to find hard working, quality talent to backfill the employees who've been at the utility for a long time.
- Paper Maps and Outdated Records: Most small utilities have only one computer, which is either being used by the office manager to maintain the billing software, or it's too old to be even used and sits back in the corner. The majority of the institutional knowledge in the water utility either lives in an operators head or it's on a punch card locked away in a filing cabinet.
These factors of the federal government requiring water utility operators to do more with all of the other macro trends, is making it increasingly difficult to manage water utilities well.
Water Utility Asset Management
One of the most critical innovations in the utility has been the introduction of cloud-based GIS software.
Having real-time access to GIS maps of your assets is critical to effectively water utility management. But knowing where something is, doesn't mean that you're actually managing it, but that you're knowledgable of it being there.
There are many different types of assets that you have in your system, that all have very different needs like:
- Force Main Lines
- Main Lines
- Service Lines
- Gate Valve
- Ball Valve
- Butterfly Valve
- Curb Stops
- Booster Stations
- Gravity Lines
- Catch Basins
- Lateral Lines
- Lift Stations
- Booster Stations
- Pump Stations
- Service Taps
Did we miss anything?
Not to mention people, trucks, buildings, motors, pumps, facilities, equipment, and other things you need to manage like backflow prevention monitoring, survey test, smoke surveys, inspections, lead and copper sanitary tests, and many other things.
These information about these assets are important to office managers, engineers, vendors, contractors, excavators, pipe distributors and so many other people.
How are you managing all of these things?
Having multiple software solutions, with different licenses, different versions, and different user interfaces makes your job harder and not simpler. That's why you need an all-in-one solution like Ziptility that makes it easy for you to manage your utility, in one easy to use asset management software.
With modern utility asset management software you should be able to see a full asset history of everything that's been done to a particular asset. For a hydrant you might see a full history of hydrant flow tests, repairs to the hydrant like replacing a chain or a gasket, and then you should also see tests on there, like their latest fire inspection tests. Making sure your hydrants are fully functional is critical for the fire department in case of an emergency.
Also, it's critical for other members in the water utility to see as well. Full visibility into every decision, and all work done on an asset is critical for effective water utility management.
Your utility asset management software should be flexible enough to allow users to set reminders for themselves to come back and do work at a later date. It should also make it simple for them to assign work to other teammates if they need help, or if they know someone else is more qualified to do a particular job or repair.
It's also a good practice to retroactively go back and add work that's been completed in the past just to ensure that everyone is on the same page, when it comes to managing the utility effectively.
Water Asset Management Plans
Asset Management Plans are now being required by state legislative bodies as requirements to receive certain types of federal funding, aimed at investing in critical water infrastructure.
They are typically required to be developed or signed off by a certified or approved civil engineering firm. There are many components that go into creating a solid asset management plan but the five most critical factors are understanding the age, condition, criticality of failure, business risk exposure, cost to replace, and what has been done last.
Being able to capture these critical pieces of information along with media files like images and videos like CCTV, make it easier for these firms to provide an accurate assessment of where your assets are but then also to help you craft forward looking documents to help you allocate capital. These plans lay out details surrounding the upgrades or replacements that need to be made to your infrastructure.
Having a proper water utility asset management software that provides mobile app functionality, makes this process much simpler and ultimately saves the water utility on costs to hire the engineering firm, but also costs down the road associated reactive maintenance that comes with emergency repairs.
811 locates are a pain, but all operators are required to do them, plus you just don't want some random person carving right through your main line. It's an essential service that not only protects the public and consumers from costly main breaks, they also ensure that you can continue to deliver critical water utility services.
Here are 5 things that your modern 811 locate software should have:
- See Locates On Your Mobile Device: You shouldn't have to go into the office and print off 100 811 locate tickets. Your crew should be able to see the 811 locate tickets and all of the information associated with them as they come in. What priority is the ticket? Emergency or Normal? Who called it in? What depth are they digging? What's the service for? When does it need to be done by? It should also give the information of the coordinates, it references, but also a general location description. This will allow your crew to save precious time and increase your field crew productivity.
- Complete Them & Save History Of Locates: Your 811 locate software and app should allow you to complete the locate, add some notes about the job you did, but then also allow you to take pictures of the job that you did. You are only required in most states to keep a record of the locate ticket for 21 days, but it's a good practice to have these in storage forever because, you want to have record that you did the locate if someone were ever to hit your utilities.
- Search By Priority or Date: Your 811 Locate Ticket Software should allow you to search for your locates based on when they're due or by their priority. Knowing that a locate is a priority locate versus a normal one is critical in planning out your day.
- Bi-Directional Updating with GIS Software: When you're doing a locate, you're identifying where a utility is and you have the ability to update critical infrastructure information regarding that asset for everyone else in your water utility to benefit from. When you make a change, while doing a locate, that data should be updated in your GIS Maps as well.
Water Utility Management Software
Here are list of the top things that you can do with Utility Asset Management Software:
- Water Valve Exercising: Utility Crew members should be able to view any asset data or work history relating to that asset on any iOS, Android device or computer.
- Manhole Inspections: With a robust solution like Ziptility, utility crews will be able to track critical data about their manholes, like depth, invert and elevation data, photos of the manhole walls, and even capture this information underground without cell signal.
- Backflow Prevention Reminders: With automated alerts and reminders, utility operators and utility managers, can be notified when an upcoming backflow prevention tests needs to be sent. The results from the backflow test can also be captured, stored, and visualized on your map.
- Hydrant Flushing & Inspection: With the ability to capture flow test information and unstructured inspection data, your utility asset management software should allow you to log work, as soon as it's done, so that it's shared with your team in real-time.
- Lead & Service Line Replacement Programs: With the new lead and copper rule revisions and provisions, utility operators will be responsible for identifying and replacing service lines that pass a certain threshold of parts per million of lead and copper. By running a simple query, users should be able to visualize all of the lead lines in the system, and schedule work with outside vendors for them to be replaced, as well as a task to inform the residents of the replacement.
- Main Line Extensions: Main line extensions or replacements are a regular part of effective water utility management. Ziptility makes it easy to add or extend mainlines based on new GPS coordinates captured. Record the depth of the new main line, the material, the corresponding shutoff valves, and if there are any clamps or fittings on the existing lines, so others in your crew can check for water leaks.