An old adage says that “knowledge is power,” and Destin Water Users, Inc. (DWU) in Florida has taken that to heart with the implementation of their asset management system (AMS). Keeping the utility’s infrastructure in top working order has always been a high priority for DWU. Developing and implementing their AMS has helped them do just that. In addition to helping them keep track of their utility assets, their AMS has a unique, custom-built, web-based purchase order (PO) application that interfaces directly with Cityworks Storeroom.
Destin Water Users, Inc. is a member-owned utility cooperative that serves all of incorporated Destin, and portions of unincorporated Okaloosa County. DWU provides utilities services to more than 15,000 people in winter months and more than 45,000 people in summer months. DWU handles the operations and maintenance of all water, wastewater, and reclaimed water infrastructure for the area, which includes a 6.2 MGD water treatment plant, a 6.0 MGD wastewater treatment plant, 79 lift stations, 678 fire hydrants, and more than 2,000 water valves. In 1985, DWU added reclaimed water capabilities, allowing them to process all effluent as reclaimed water for public access, with its first customer being the Indian Bayou Golf Course. The beneficial reuse of reclaimed water in public access areas made DWU’s system one of the first in Florida and, as such, is now one of the most mature systems in the state.
As it serves a largely coastal community, DWU’s team works hard to keep their utilities infrastructure running smoothly and is proactive in minimizing impacts to the system that may arise during emergency situations, such as hurricanes and other natural disasters. “We have been doing asset management throughout the years with our preventative maintenance program and the tracking of issues and concerns we have with our equipment and infrastructure, but we thought that we could do more,” said Lockwood Wernet, DWU general manager. To that end, DWU decided to update its AMS in a way that integrated all facets of its utility, including data, personnel, and workflows across multiple departments. “Integrating all of our departments really helped improve communications and provide seamless, real-time access to data,” said Monica Autrey, PE, DWU operations manager.
To accomplish the task of updating their AMS, DWU called upon Jones Edmunds, a Cityworks Implementation Partner since 2002 and environmental and infrastructure consulting firm, to help. Working together with DWU’s staff, Jones Edmunds developed a phased Cityworks Server AMS implementation for DWU. A project like this can entail big changes to existing work and data flows. “By staging the project, we help reduce some of the pressure of changing an entire organization at once, and the early successful groups help increase momentum for the project within DWU. It also allows for smaller training sessions and later groups enjoy the benefit of increased internal understanding and participation,” said Bill Millinor, Jones Edmunds project manager. The entire project was completed within 18 months. Updates were also made to the GIS database as each department prepared to come on line.“Jones Edmunds worked hard to get our departments up and running,”said Autrey.
Training was also provided to DWU staff as part of the implementation process. “It was really important for us to get everyone well trained and familiar with all of the features and functions that are accessible to us in the system. We have worked hard to make sure that we are maximizing its use to help simplify our workflows, and it has really helped to make our lives easier, particularly in meeting our planning and reporting needs,” said Autrey.
Cityworks does not contain a PO application, but due to its open framework, Jones Edmunds was able to develop a web-based purchase order application that communicates directly with Cityworks Storeroom and SQL Reporting Services. The purchase order system is anASP.NET web application that was built into the Cityworks framework. DWU has two types of purchase orders: one for materials that are tracked through inventory or Storeroom, and a second that is used for general non-inventory purchases. The purchase order application allows users to create general purchase orders, view POs with filters, export PO forms to PDF, and view order forms.
To create an inventory purchase order, Storeroom managers are able to create a requisition within Cityworks Storeroom. This initiates a SQL trigger that writes the requisition and supplier information to the purchase order database. The trigger obtains a new purchase order number and then writes that PO number to the Cityworks requisition table. The new inventory PO then becomes visible within the purchase order system. Whenever updates are made to a requisition (status, account, date, etc.), another SQL trigger is sent out that updates the PO information. “When receiving requisitioned materials within Storeroom, a SQL trigger writes the received material cost to the supplier-material table—this saves the manager time by not having to update prices in two locations,” said Autrey.
From enhanced communications and response times, to better transparency and accountability, Cityworks is helping improve DWU’s ability to manage their assets and resources. For example, DWU staff are using Cityworks to track their backflow prevention inspections—capturing a potential multi-step pass or fail inspection process and all the associated pertinent information. “It is extremely important for us to track the backflow prevention inspection process, from both a regulatory and accountability perspective,” said Autrey. “We now have an inspection process that is built on our business logic and is transparent to all parties.” The knowledge they are accumulating through their AMS helps DWU make more informed decisions on how to manage their assets.
Additionally, their unique, custom-built, web-based purchase order application provides added value, helping to extend and integrate Cityworks with more of their financial workflows. The results of these powerful improvements help DWU complete its daily operations more efficiently and in turn, better serve its customers.
By Monica Autrey, PE, Operations Manager, and Lockwood Wernet, General Manager, Destin Water Users, Inc.; Mark Nelson, PE, GISP, Vice President, Bill Millinor, GISP, GIS Department Manager, and Anne Davis, PE, Engineer, Jones Edmunds & Associates, Inc.