Ovivo Offers a New and Simpler Platform for Bringing Digital Management to the Water and Wastewater Field

WaterExpert tool helps operators manage assets, maintenance and alarms and monitor equipment performance on a single simple platform.

Ovivo Offers a New and Simpler Platform for Bringing Digital Management to the Water and Wastewater Field

The WaterExpert application uses a simple, clear interface.

Treatment plant operators today face increasingly complex plant systems while the workforce ages and a wave of retirements approaches.

Digital tools help plant teams manage operations while preserving institutional knowledge with online libraries of manuals and standard operating procedures. The challenge has been to find digital systems that can be used without extensive training and without costly programming and system integration.

Now Ovivo has introduced the WaterExpert digital platform. It is designed as an all-in-one solution that combines asset, maintenance and alarm management with real-time data monitoring on a common platform. Users can access the system from their own desktop or mobile devices, enabling teams to stay connected in the office and the field.

David Williams, director of digital solutions with Ovivo, talked about the technology in an interview with Treatment Plant Operator.

TPO: What need is this platform designed to fulfill?

Williams: We conducted an in-person survey involving a number of treatment plants. One key problem we identified is that our industry has an aging workforce and is having trouble attracting new younger people. We’re also losing an incredible amount of knowledge when older operators leave their organizations. As a result, we saw that we needed to up our game as it relates to users’ experience with equipment.

TPO: How does WaterExpert differ from other plant management tools available today?

Williams: Many management tools are overengineered in an effort to fit every industry. There are a variety of tools operators can use to run their plants, but often the applications were built separately and are not connected. We tried to bring a simpler, cleaner interface that combines not just asset and knowledge management, but maintenance management. We took a holistic view and built something from the ground up that was purposely connected as it was built. It’s a sleek, simple interface that can be driven out of the palm of an operator’s hand.

TPO: In a basic sense, how is the WaterExpert platform structured?

Williams: The core skeleton is modeled around the asset tree of the treatment plant. If you look at various SCADA, maintenance management and asset management systems, you see that they share the same folder structure, which is asset based. You have a headworks section, a primary treatment section and so on. So on WaterExpert, the assets are the bones and architecture of the whole application. 

TPO: How do the various assets communicate with this technology platform?

Williams: We use an Internet of Things gateway device. It can pull data from the plant network and host it in the cloud. Then operators can do smart connected asset management. They’re not only doing time-based asset management, but are able to see the equipment condition in real time based on parameters they are measuring.

TPO: What information is available for each asset?

Williams: Within each asset there are a few key things. One catalogs what assets they have and what their useful life is. There’s a maintenance management component that serves as a computerized maintenance management system. Knowing what you have is one thing. The other is knowing where it is. WaterExpert can map everything visually on a real-time Google interface or using what we call image maps. Users can take their assets and drag and drop them onto a drawing or design. Another component is support, identifying the person to call if a particular asset goes down. Plant teams can add their own support contacts. 

TPO: How does this system help support standard operating procedures and the preservation of institutional knowledge?

Williams: That’s the role of the knowledge capture and library component. It was pretty clear to us that no one was reading paper-based manuals. We live in an age of YouTube where if you want to fix your washer or dryer, you pull up a two-minute video and have a complete visual of exactly what to do. WaterExpert lets operators harness those same kinds of multimedia teaching tools for their entire plant. If they need a maintenance procedure for a given asset, they can take a video from the media library and attach it to that asset, so it’s always available when needed.

TPO: How is data monitoring accomplished with this platform?

Williams: We built a web visualization creation tool that requires no programming experience to use. Operators can build widgets right out of their phones to see in real time what their equipment is doing and follow operating trends.

TPO: What role does alarm management play within this platform?

Williams: We’ve built what is essentially a replacement for an alarm dialer. Users can set up an alarm philosophy and define who gets to access and change the alarm rules, again without any programming experience. They can create a rule to say, for example, that if the permeate flow exceeds 35 gpm, these people at the plant are going to receive a text message.

TPO: What would you say is the most significant benefit of this platform?

Williams: This platform really opens a new level of smart connected asset management to small and medium-sized treatment plants. Previously, that capability had only been available to well-financed, large municipalities through major investments in integration time. That’s the breakthrough we’re bringing to the market. It’s simplifying facility management and making it easy to use in a way that adds real value to operators.

TPO: How is this technology offered for sale?

Williams: We have native applications for Android and iOS. The technology is offered on software as a service subscription model. It’s offered as a site license for each plant, but if you are an operating company, or a municipality that operates multiple plants, you have the ability to see all of the plants in one view. From there you can go to a specific plant and drill down into the details.


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