Guest Column | June 5, 2023

Managing Industrial Wastewater With The Help Of CMMS

By Lindsey Walker


Industrial wastewater management plays a vital role in the smooth functioning of industrial and commercial processes. It's crucial to treat wastewater properly before releasing it into the environment. Dealing with wastewater operations and maintenance is no easy task as it involves adhering to multiple federal, state, and local regulations. However, modern companies are finding a solution to this complex process through computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS). In this blog post, we'll dive into the advantages of utilizing CMMS to optimize wastewater management operations.

Revolutionizing Industrial Wastewater Management: The CMMS Approach

1. Enhancing Responsiveness 

Having an easily accessible preventive maintenance (PM) module is a game-changer for facility managers. It allows them to effortlessly set work order notifications and navigate system controls with ease. With real-time visibility into operations, planning PM tasks becomes a breeze, as managers can align them based on run times and equipment usage. 

The module seamlessly integrates with the SCADA system, enabling operators to track pending work orders and identify the necessary replacement parts for machinery and assets across various locations. This heightened level of visibility enhances responsiveness and work efficiency, particularly in water and wastewater environments. By leveraging the PM scheduling module, facility managers can optimize maintenance operations and ensure the smooth functioning of critical systems.

2. Quantity and Origin

If your facility has faced wastewater discharge violations, it's crucial to take responsibility for returning to compliance. To address the issue, you may consider diverting target pollutants from entering the wastewater stream. However, if the precise source of pollutants is unknown, further investigation and sampling throughout the waste drainage system may be necessary to identify the origin. Collecting the offending waste in a carboy instead of sending it down the drain can lead to significant cost savings compared to implementing additional wastewater treatment processes or facing recurring violations and negative publicity.

Similarly, when introducing a new process, active involvement in the early planning stages is essential. Assessing the potential waste contributions to wastewater discharge is vital. Reviewing material data sheets of the products used and conducting sample analyses on the waste can help determine if there are any concerns regarding discharge compliance. When uncertain, it's advisable to consult with your regulatory authority contact. Introducing new sources to an existing wastewater discharge may require submitting additional documentation for compliance purposes.

3. Characteristics of Incoming Wastewater

To ensure compliance, it's important to determine key factors such as pH, temperature, and pollutants. This step serves a dual purpose as it aligns with permit application processes and wastewater system design. As a waste generator, review your chemical hygiene/management plan and procedures to verify on-site chemicals and their handling. Interview personnel to ensure adherence to plans and address any discrepancies promptly to avoid future problems.

Evaluate how products and reagents are combined to create wastewater streams. Understanding the characteristics and variability of the wastewater allows for effective treatment system design and the development of protocols for continuous compliance. If possible, consider conducting a scaled-down treatability study ("bench test") to anticipate challenges and prevent extensive rework of plans, even on a smaller scale.

4. Achieving Compliance

Maintenance management software with mobile computing capabilities is a valuable solution for addressing contamination challenges faced by water utilities. In order to meet regulations governing purification equipment and delivery systems, water and wastewater plants must ensure compliance. Failure to comply with EPA regulations can result in substantial fines and legal consequences. By utilizing a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), water and wastewater treatment facilities can streamline their operations, minimize compliance-related issues, and avoid costly penalties. 

A CMMS allows utilities to effectively monitor crucial equipment, generate customized reports for year-end reporting, and swiftly initiate corrective actions. With easy and instant access to necessary resources, maintenance management software for utilities accelerates compliance achievements, enabling water and wastewater utilities to operate efficiently while meeting regulatory standards.

5. Flow Measurement

As a wastewater operator, it's crucial to be familiar with water inflow and pollutant levels in your facility. Conducting mass balances on constituents provides a comprehensive understanding of your process, enabling optimal system operation. Flow rate is a vital factor when determining the treatment system's capacity. Ensuring complete wastewater treatment can be challenging, as any disruptions may lead to compliance issues or extensive cleanups. In the event of discharge violations, a reliable CMMS system helps track progress, assign operators, and manage repair work, ensuring timely resolution and compliance.

6. Maintaining Equipment

In wastewater treatment facilities, operators have monthly, weekly, and daily responsibilities that encompass managing pumps, alarms, filtration equipment, probes, and general housekeeping. However, keeping track of these tasks can be tedious, especially in large facilities. CMMS programs simplify this process by allowing operators to raise work tickets and assign specific tasks in case of problems.

Moreover, CMMS maintenance software enables organized management of preventive maintenance, ensuring efficient handling of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. Through integration with EAM systems, operators receive comprehensive reports on asset maintenance, including purchase records, location, and personnel involved.

Utilizing preventive maintenance software also enhances operator productivity by monitoring their work and reducing idle time. The primary objective of implementing CMMS is to efficiently manage plant operations. The software addresses various aspects of asset management, including lifecycle management, regulatory compliance, asset condition assessment, risk management, and prioritizing improvement projects.

Additionally, CMMS facilitates asset inventory management, allowing for organized hierarchies and integration with GIS systems for better site management and reporting capabilities in the stormwater collection, sewer collection, and water distribution systems. The comprehensive features of CMMS software enable wastewater facilities to enhance efficiency, maintain regulatory compliance, and make informed decisions about infrastructure improvements. 

Lindsey Walker is the marketing manager for NEXGEN, a Sacramento-based industry leader in designing advanced computerized maintenance management systems and asset management software tools for utilities, facilities, public works, manufacturing, and fleet industries. In her free time, Lindsey enjoys travelling and reading, which allows her to gain new perspectives and inspiration for her work. She is committed to creating content that connects well with her readers, enhancing their digital experiences.