Digital Platform Provides Insight into Assets

April 6, 2022
The Town of Franklin, Mass., manages its water utility assets through a single platform.

The Town of Franklin, Mass., has an approximate population of 35,000 residents and a full-service Department of Public Works to manage everything from water and waste to streets and highways, parks, and everything in between.

Like most utilities today, the Franklin Department of Public Works (FDPW) is in the process of a digital transformation. It started some years back with a web-based work order system that was used primarily to log customer complaints and requests. The information was previously housed in either spreadsheets, on paper, or simply through verbal communication. FDPW quickly realized they needed to change course; they were collecting lots of data but were not able to leverage the information to streamline daily workflows.

“As one would imagine, sometimes the information was not given to the correct person or was lost in the shuffle, which meant a repair did not happen or a necessary improvement did not make it into a plan,” Kate Sjoberg, GIS coordinator for the Town of Franklin says. “To really take advantage of data collection, it needs to be delivered to the right person and packaged as an actionable insight, like a work order or an alert for further action.”

Centralizing Control

The Town of Franklin operates eight booster pump stations, six water storage tanks, more than 2,000 hydrants, 157 miles of water main, and approximately 9,000 water services. The town’s sanitary sewer system has 137 miles of sewer pipe, more than 3,400 utility access holes, and 23 pump stations.

All these assets are now accounted for in Franklin’s Sedaru utility management platform. All stakeholders have access to the platform from any connected device. Work orders are assigned, scheduled, and tracked in the platform, giving field crews timely information on those assets that may include a level of urgency, GIS location, installation date, product specifications, maintenance history, images, and more.

“Sedaru is a tremendous asset for the team to use in the field. It allows staff to quickly and accurately identify asset ownership, pipe orientation, manhole [utility access hole] location and historical data,” Derek Adams, superintendent for Stormwater and Environment Affairs says. “Examining data prior to breaking ground on a job site allows the appropriate crew to commence the work. Additionally, the ability to visualize spatial relationships with other town-owned utilities reduces unexpected surprises.”

The field crew digitally records the work that was done and can add any missing asset information to build record-keeping or add images if warranted — all while in the field. This gives real time results to managers, enabling them to analyze asset performance or worker productivity and to spot meaningful trends that can help with long-term planning.

Data Keeps Stormwater Flowing

Franklin’s Stormwater Division inspects the functionality of each detention basin annually and measures vegetative growth, intake pipe clearance, headwall location, and more.

The Sedaru platform helps collect and visually organize this data so that it is easy to analyze, track, and generate work orders. The information is then prioritized into a maintenance schedule that helps mitigate potential hazards before they become a threat.

“The Town has dedicated significant time and energy into locating, retrofitting, constructing, and maintaining stormwater assets. Our stormwater network includes over 10,000 data points: catch basins, drainpipes, culverts, detention basins, tree wells, and stormceptors,” Adams says. “Sedaru enables us to organize all this information in a meaningful way.”

Looking Forward

The Town of Franklin has been evolving its operational and asset management using the new platform for five years.

“Hours and hours have been saved by our shift to Sedaru — not only for our administrative and management staff but also our field crew,” Sjoberg says.

FDPW is now exploring the possibility of expanding more assets into customized maintenance and inspection programs to streamline operations. It has also considered building in robust, predictive asset replacement plans. WW

About the Author: Kurt Ferrell is an account executive team lead for Aquatic Informatics, which acquired Sedaru in early 2021. Ferrell works with his team to offer asset and work order management solutions for utilities.

Published in WaterWorld Magazine, April 2022.

About the Author

Kurt Ferrell

Kurt Ferrell is an account executive team lead for Aquatic Informatics, which acquired Sedaru in early 2021. Ferrell works with his team to offer solutions that optimize asset and work order management for utilities using the latest data management technologies.

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