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Browser based electronic O&M manuals (both on- and off-line) have proven invaluable from both an operations and facilities management perspective. These resources provide tools for training, day-to-day operations, and AM/FM interfaces. However, maintaining these manuals can prove to be a time consuming task requiring dedicated resources with knowledge of both the Information Technology (IT) requirements and the operation of the plant. Electronic O&M manuals which are not properly maintained quickly lose their value and can become virtual paperweights in the Utility IT systems. To help minimize the resources required to maintain electronic O&M manuals and improve the accuracy of the maintenance, database tools can be used. These tools allow appropriate O&M content to be added, deleted, or modified by operations staff without the need for interface with IT staff. This paper examines two tools for producing and maintaining electronic O&M manuals with database backends. One of the tools produces off-line O&M manuals (suitable for burning on CDs), while the other produces on-line manuals (stored on web servers and accessible from a browser). Both systems have interfaces to document management systems to retrieve certain content (such as drawings, specifications, photographs, etc.).

Both systems rely on keyword cataloging techniques using unique keywords for a facility, based on the terminology used by that Utility. The database stores overall navigation keywords (to define the look of the O&M manuals) and document specific keywords (to define where documents will appear). As new content is added (or existing content modified) those keywords are associated with the content to properly catalog it in the context of the O&M layout. The database stores both the content and the cataloging data and subsequent web views of the O&M manuals are then automatically regenerated based on the updated data.

The off-line O&M tool produces a simple tab-based HTML document that is built using a simple folder structure. The user defines horizontal and vertical navigation links by simply creating nested folders (similar to adding/modifying folders in Windows Explorer) and then adding documents to those folders. The document content can be HTML text or a simple collection of documents (CAD files, PDF files, Word files, etc.). When requested by the user, the tool generates an HTML based document with navigation links (named according to the folder names defined earlier) and the added content. HTML content is resolved by the browser normally and can be as simple or complex as desired. Other documents types are provided with links in the O&M manual to allow the file to be viewed or downloaded. The overall O&M package can be burned to a CD or stored on a web server. This tool is primarily intended to server as a snap-shot of data and would normally be burned to a CD.

The on-line O&M tool produces a more complex DHTML document that is stored on a web server and refreshes automatically as the database is updated. A simple user interface is used to input project and document cataloging information that is stored in the database to generate the DHTML document. The project data consists of keywords for both general O&M topics (Operations, Maintenance, Safety, Policies, etc.) and major sub categories for the general topics (primarily process areas such as Headworks, BNR Basins, etc.). These project keywords largely determine the overall navigation and presentation for the manual. They also serve as primary cataloging data for the content that is added to the site. However, there are additional, more specific, keywords defined for cataloging of the O&M content. Through another simple interface, documents are added to the system by selecting all appropriate keywords related to the document and then importing the document to the database. Both the document and the associated keywords are stored in the database. When the O&M manual is accessed, the HTML views are dynamically created with the latest database information, without having to modify any HTML code (though HTML text can be imported as a document if desired). In addition, content from Black & Veatch's standard document management system can be exported to the on-line O&M tool (using an XML data exchange web service) to further automate the O&M population process.

To help support maintenance use, the off-line tool can accept equipment data modeled as XML data objects as content. The standard XML schema used is an internally developed model for water/wastewater equipment, instruments, piping, valves, etc. However, other XML languages could easily be supported, as the data is resolved and displayed using standard browsers. The equipment data is typically generated as part of the facility design and updated during construction and startup. Once finalized (and later as required), the data can be updated and input to the O&M tool.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-01-01

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