Florida Utility Automates Preventive Maintenance Processes

To keep the water and wastewater infrastructure in Plant City, FL, operating, the city has turned to WinTrack PM for City Utilities, a turnkey preventive maintenance (PM) solution.

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To keep the water and wastewater infrastructure in Plant City, FL, operating, the city has turned to WinTrack PM for City Utilities, a turnkey preventive maintenance (PM) solution. Produced by Dunedin, Fla.-based Mintek Mobile Data Solutions, the software system incorporates handhelds and bar coding to ensure that scheduled preventive maintenance gets done. The paperless system automates the work order processes and provides at-a-glance reports that detail work progress.

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Each piece of equipment is marked with a barcode that includes routine maintenance steps required.
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Plant City serves a population of 32,000 and has grown by 50 percent since 1990. Both its drinking water and wastewater systems have a capacity of about 10 mgd.

Before the new PM system was installed, the 44-person maintenance crew used a paper-based system. It was a challenge to organize what work needed to be done, or to know what work had been completed. Paul Cockrell, senior foreman for Plant City’s water and wastewater departments, said sometimes his team relied on word of mouth to track what work had been done.

To prepare for implementation, Cockrell worked with Mintek to establish a list of every piece of equipment that had to be checked. Approximately 900 items were identified, including the utility’s 38 lift stations, switches, flow meters, motors, pumps, generators, compressors, chlorinating equipment, bleach metering equipment and control panels.

Serial numbers, model numbers, manufacturer name, spare parts details and routine maintenance steps for each item were all entered into WinTrack PM. Each item was then marked with weatherproof bar code labels that provide a profile of the item.

When a maintenance person scans a bar code, it prompts a series of maintenance action steps on the handheld. After the PM is done, the bar code is scanned again. Each step is recorded by the system.

If a reading entered on the handheld is out of range of the parameters previously set up in WinTrack PM, the automated system generates a work order that can later be closed on the handheld. The entire process is paperless.

At the end of the day, information from each handheld is uploaded into the central computer. On the overview screen, Cockrell can see what work has been done in the past month and what work is coming in the next two weeks. On each handheld, maintenance personnel can also see what PMs need to be done two weeks in advance.

“It is good to know what is coming up,” Cockrell said. “One can do a PM early. WinTrack PM also enables me to keep better records. I know when my maintenance personnel start and finish assignments.”

If an unplanned maintenance issue should arise, work orders can be created and closed on the maintenance person’s handheld. Because parts replacement is recorded in the software, staff knows when parts inventory needs to be replenished.

Plant City is preparing for the opening of a new $40 million wastewater treatment facility next year. Cockrell says the new plant will have more instrumentation that will need to be monitored. He said that WinTrack PM will help make his case for the additional two maintenance personnel he expects to need there.

The new maintenance system has helped make Plant City’s water and wastewater departments proactive instead of reactive when it comes to asset maintenance. That is critical, he said, when the life of a 20,000-pound compressor is at stake.

“Without proper PM, our high-speed compressors would burn up,” Cockrell said.

For utility departments comparable to those in Plant City, WinTrack PM is an alternative to complex computerized maintenance management systems. It is relatively easy to set up and requires minimal IT department support.

It can help reduce clerical errors and eliminate paper from the PM, rounds, inspections and work order processes. Work history is available with just a few finger taps on the keyboard. Integrated with an e-mail system, it can e-mail reports to utility directors to provide at-a-glance, offsite summaries of utility department maintenance status.

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The maintenance system includes 900 items including pumps, motors, generators and control panels.
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The system can be customized to fit any type of community utility department. Mintek also provides the backup support needed at smaller utilities.

“Every time we have had a question, Mintek has helped us through it,” Cockrell said.

For more information on Mintek Mobile Data Solutions and its software, visit www.mintek.com.

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