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Moving beyond Spreadsheet Spaghetti and Vintage Data - How Cincinnati MSD is Harnessing the Power of Analytics to Improve Business Results.

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Imagine a wastewater treatment plant reducing equipment failures by 20% over 3 years (see Figure 5). At the same time, increased condition-based maintenance reduced overall maintenance labor (Figure 11). These are real results, gained in spite of significant operational challenges.

MSD faces challenges that are all too familiar to most utility managers:

• Aging, deteriorating infrastructure,

• A large, complex operation,

• Decreasing numbers of staff, and

• Improving but under-utilized information systems.

The City of Cincinnati's – Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) faces these pressures in a consent-decree-driven environment. MSD's Wastewater Treatment Division is continually improving operational stability with process improvements, energy savings, and automation through a data-driven approach focused on asset reliability, maintainability, and availability.

Key to MSD's approach is mining the vast amount of operational data it has available in its business systems to support better decisions. To overcome “vintage data” and “spreadsheet spaghetti” (Taylor, 2011, is credited for both illustrative terms), MSD defined business-oriented performance measures, improved business processes, implemented a technology tool, and improved datasets to increase the value and insight data brings to daily decisions in three primary ways:

1. Easing information access,

2. Focusing Resources, and

3. Measuring results.

The paper describes how performance measures, data analysis tools and improved practices fit into a continuously improving culture and have helped MSD embrace significant change for the better.

Document Type: Research Article


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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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