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Full Circle Facility Information Management

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In February of 2000, the Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant (LPWRP) in Howard County, Maryland initiated a comprehensive update to their facility operations information management systems. At the outset, the LPWRP envisioned separate laboratory information management (LIMS), operations, and process control systems that would require custom integration to share information and perform the statistical analysis and reporting required by plant staff.

Through careful planning and evaluation of critical business processes, it was determined that a single laboratory information management system (LIMS) database could accommodate the data derived in all areas of plant operations, including the importation of daily values from the plants Distributed Control System (DCS). This collective system, coupled with an intranet based communications tool would enable all LPWRP staff and management to utilize one repository of data and one reporting vehicle; ensuring everyone was working from the same information. Further, the LIMS would serve to calculate changes in the waste flow rates of the plant and automatically initiate changes in the DCS; altering process “set points” within limits established by operations supervisors.

However, the best-laid plans often go astray. During implementation it was discovered that the vendor's LIMS product could not, in acceptable time frames, transfer, process, and store the DCS collected data. The system became overwhelmed by the approximately 10,000 data points and caused multiple iterations of the transfer scheme to be attempted, some taking as long as 47 hours and consuming 100% of the server resources. Ultimately, a second, virtually parallel, database was required to meet the logistical, reporting, and operational needs of the facility.

This paper will present a complete case study of the LIMS implementation, its transition to a facility information management system, the bi-directional integration of the Foxboro DCS system, the necessity of an additional archival database, and the plant-wide communication of key information elements and notifications through the electronic “white board.”
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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