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Designing Communication – One Link at a Time

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“I don't know, I just came on duty after a long weekend”, “I did not know that the shut down was completed”, or “I did not know that the pump was partially clogged”, are examples of routine responses to a problem statement heard from operations staff at the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority's (DCWater) 370 mgd Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. In discussions with other jurisdictions, these accountability deflecting comments are universal and point to a weak link that is characteristic of facilities that operate with multiple shifts, separate process treatment sections and/or on going construction and upgrades. This weak link is communication.

While communication challenges are universal, medium to large plants with multiple shifts and multiple crews on each shift are particularly susceptible. Operations structured as silos are even more prone to this problem. This paper lists the driving force behind the Authority's need to address this problem, key impediments to communication identified within plant Operations, the approach taken to address the problem, the challenges that this effort presented, and steps taken to overcome the challenges.
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Keywords: Accountability; Horizontal and Vertical Integration; Intra Shift Communication; Log Books; PaperReduction; Silos

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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