Enabling Lean Water Operations: Transforming Data Into Information is Critical for Driving Efficiency for Renewable Water Resources (ReWa)

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Today, the water/wastewater industry faces many challenges. Budgets are tight and regulations are constantly changing. More than 60 percent of the workforce is expected to retire in the next four years, meaning decades of knowledge retention will need to be passed on to the next generation of water/wastewater operators. Additionally, not only are we seeing the need for more and more data collection, but also analysis of critical data, which has led to information overload. With all of these challenges taken into consideration, data collection needs to be simplified.

In line with WEF's Five Principles and Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Water Sector Utilities, implementing a lean organization for the water/wastewater industry supports these basic tenets and helps organizations address the growing challenges they are facing regarding constant change, reduced budgets and increasing regulations. Taking a lean approach to the water industry provides utility managers with a clear roadmap for how to improve their organization-wide performance. “Lean” is a concept that applies to every business and process. Essentially, it is a methodology to help deal with constant change. For the water/wastewater industry, going lean means automating processes, utilizing technology and ultimately, optimizing the business.

Renewable Water Resources (ReWa) brings a real world example of how the early stages of implementing a lean operation is beginning to have a major impact on the water utility's operating efficiencies.

ReWa realized significant benefits by embracing lean concepts. Findings to date include:

• Facility savings of as much as 232,000 a year in solids management and chemical usage

• Savings of over 200 hours per year on planning and travel the various facilities

• Facilitates close monitoring of aging equipment, allowing better preventive maintenance, reducing costs and increasing efficiency

• Supports decision making and improves the budgeting process

• Provides accurate data for construction and optimization projects

• Reduces the learning curve for bringing new operators up-to-speed, keeping skillsets sharp

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864712811694884

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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