As the public utility charged with collecting and treating wastewater produced by the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE, RAK Wastewater Agency has its work cut out. Water management, collection and treatment is a complex and intensive task, which uses heavy infrastructure and assets, all of which need to be maintained efficiently and effectively to ensure optimal performance. In a country with limited rainfall and high demand for water, RAK Wastewater is always under pressure to treat as much wastewater as possible in the interests of sustainability.
One of the key challenges that RAK Wastewater faced was managing and keeping track of the maintenance of its assets, and particularly in ensuring quality of maintenance was high across all of its operations, including assets such as pumps, motors and pipes.
Furthermore, with so many assets to keep track of, it was difficult for the Operations and Maintenance Department to have clear oversight of exactly where it should direct its maintenance resources.
This led to reactive rather than pro-active maintenance, which meant that problems were often being fixed after they arose, rather than before. This approach used to lead to higher maintenance costs, increased downtime and reduced efficiency. In other words, the data available about the assets previously was not accurate and not sufficient to conduct a proper assessment.
“The biggest challenge we used to have was the efficient utilisation of man hours and also the accuracy of the operational data which actually affects your decision-making processes,” reflects Walid Abdulrehman Mohammed, Operations and Maintenance Department Manager, RAK Wastewater.
After assessing a number of Enterprise Asset Management solutions from different vendors, the Operations and Maintenance Department decided to implement Infor Enterprise Asset Management. They chose the system over solutions from other vendors due to its suitability for utilities, and especially wastewater operations.
The solution was implemented by Intertec, Infor’s technology partner in the UAE, in mid-2018 and took about 6 months to install. This was a sizable undertaking and involved collecting data for all the assets, including pumps, pipes and motors, and information about them, including age and lifecycle.
In total, some 3,300 assets, spread across 330km of sewerage network, 13 pumping and lifting stations, and four treatment plants with different capacities and technologies, were logged and entered into the Infor Enterprise Asset Management system.
This information meant that RAK Wastewater could use Infor Enterprise Asset Management to fully automate its asset maintenance, including daily schedules for the Operations and Maintenance Department advising which assets to proactively check, repair, maintain or replace.
Savings and benefits
One year after implementing Infor Enterprise Asset Management, Mohammed and his team have benefited from its transformative impact, on the Operations and Maintenance Department, and the entire organisation.
RAK Wastewater is now using Infor Enterprise Asset Management to help manage assets across all its operations. This allows the maintenance team to plan maintenance tasks in advance and schedule tasks far more rigorously compared with the manual system the team relied on previously. “When we implemented Enterprise Asset Management, we were able to reduce reactive maintenance,” says Mohammed.
This has an impact on the total cost of the Operations and Maintenance Department process. By doing preventive maintenance at a high quality, assets can keep running at optimal performance with less corrective maintenance and fewer costs. More assets can be maintained and repaired rather than replaced, and damaged or worn assets can be replaced before they break and cause damage or outages.
The Operations and Maintenance Department team has also seen a clear reduction in the percentage of emergency-based work orders versus total work orders. Emergency work orders, where an asset is at risk of failing and threatens to disrupt services, have declined to about 0.4 to 0.45%, compared with almost 1% in 2018. This is a significant drop, with major positive reliability and efficiency gains for RAK Wastewater.
RAK Wastewater experienced further savings by using its manpower far more efficiently. Fewer hours wasted on reactive maintenance meant a lot more time spent on more efficient and effective preventive maintenance, creating a positive feedback loop.
Infor Enterprise Asset Management is also helping RAK Wastewater’s Operations and Maintenance Department team at a more strategic level. With access to accurate data, the team is able to make better decisions, particularly in terms of deciding on the timing of large maintenance projects. “Our decisions are made on more accurate data and more real time data being captured,” says Mohammed.
The system has enabled RAK Wastewater to improve the way it governs and administrates the entire maintenance operation, which has in turn reduced human error. Indeed, the Operations and Maintenance Department division estimates that the amount of corrective maintenance and related work orders has reduced by 17%.
Mohammed estimates that Infor Enterprise Asset Management has reduced costs across the entire operation by at least 3%. This equates to a financial saving, as well as helping to increase the volume of water that can be treated and re-used.
“We have a maintenance plan for all our assets, including the frequency, and each has a certain task to be implemented, so the system allowed us to make the plan and its execution far more efficient,” says Mohammed.
Infor Enterprise Asset Management is also contributing to RAK Wastewater’s ability to reduce its operational cost of collection and treatment per cubic metre. It currently costs AED 0.65 to treat each cubic metre of water, while it was 0.67 two years ago. RAK Wastewater aims to achieve 30% reduction in its operational cost for collecting and treating one cubic metre of wastewater by 2023.
While the gains from Infor Enterprise Asset Management so far have been significant, Mohammed and his team are keen to expanding. They intend to continue adding more assets to the Enterprise Asset Management programme and also implement other digital solutions, with the aim of transforming to become a digital water operation – an organisation that fully embraces all available digital solutions to maximise efficiency and improve services.
“The water industry is transitioning to what we call digital water and the digital technologies are offering us potential to transform the operations and processes that we have,” Mohammed says.
One key part of this will be the introduction of IoT systems, along with the software to monitor and manage them. As part of this plan, the Operations and Maintenance Department division hopes to implement Infor’s ERP Enterprise Resource Planning solution, to accurately measure past performance and forecast activities.
“We are trying to install sensors to the critical assets that can then interlink with Infor directly, so that we will get instantaneous data, as well as building a data pool that will have medium- and long-term value,” says Mohammed.
This would give the Operations and Maintenance Department team an insight into the performance of its operations, which would in turn help with everything from allocation of resources to the delivery of performance reports. “Ultimately, it is about improving water sustainability in Ras Al Khaimah,” says Mohammed.
- Water management, collection and treatment is a complex and intensive task.
- RAK Wastewater is under pressure to treat as much wastewater as possible.
- A key challenge that RAK Wastewater faced was keeping track of the maintenance of its assets.
- Data available about assets previously was not accurate and not sufficient to conduct a proper assessment.
- The solution was implemented by Intertec, in mid-2018 and took about 6 months to install.
- The solution involved collecting data for all the assets, including pumps, pipes, motors, age and lifecycle.
- 3,300 assets, 330km of sewerage network, 13 pumping stations, four treatment plants were logged into the system.
- By doing preventive maintenance, assets can keep running at optimal performance with less corrective maintenance.
- Emergency work orders, where an asset is at risk of failing and threatens to disrupt services, have declined to 0.4 to 0.45%.
- Amount of corrective maintenance and related work orders has reduced by 17%.
- Asset management has reduced costs across the operation by at least 3%.
- It currently costs AED 0.65 to treat each cubic metre of water, while it was AED 0.67 two years ago.
- RAK Wastewater aims at 30% reduction in operational cost for collecting and treating 1 cubic metre of wastewater by 2023.
The Emirate covers an area of about 2,486 sq km, has a total population of some 300,000 people, and is home to thriving industries including leisure and tourism, manufacturing, cement and ceramics. It produces 12 Million cubic metres of wastewater annually.
To serve the Emirate, RAK Wastewater manages the operation and maintenance activities of four sewage treatment plants in addition to 330km of sewage networks and 13 lifting stations across the Emirate. RAK Wastewater is also responsible for the construction and management of public wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure, monitoring the trade effluent of commercial and industrial activities and regulating private wastewater systems.
The organisation, which is one of four agencies that forms the Public Service Department of the Government of Ras Al Khaimah, is also responsible for managing the reuse of treated wastewater as part of its strategical objective towards enhancing the sustainability of Ras Al Khaimah, which has a bold ambition to re-use 100% of its wastewater by 2023.
All images courtesy RAK Wastewater.