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The City of Boca Raton has used Canary Labs software since 2006, collecting and storing time series data in the our data historian and trending real-time as well as historical process data using TrendLink. Monitoring over 20,000 tags, our software helps control operators and SCADA supervisors better understand their process, better determine ways to be more efficient in both power and chemical use, as well as improve their documentation for both internal and regulatory purposes.
In the Boca Raton facility, Canary software is used throughout their process. According to Mike Tufts, Control and SCADA Supervisor:
Canary Labs software is very easy to use and very intuitive; we use it all the way from Operations to Administration. Operations uses the software daily to track their process. They can go back and compare today’s events to historical events and see if anything in the process is operating a little bit differently, like higher or lower flows. Canary Labs software is even used by administration when they are working on new projects, information for run times, or even pump curves, and they love using it.
The key to Boca Raton’s successful implementation is making the data readily available to all key personnel. Tufts continues to explain:
We have Canary integrated into our Operation’s HMI software with prebuilt, predefined trends. Operations also has the ability to instantly bring up a trend on any data point or signal, anywhere in the process. Additionally, in our group, instrumentation personnel can easily go back and check the history of an instrument whenever Operations suspects any trouble. They can troubleshoot back to when the event started, watch to see if the instrument is operating outside of the norm, or if any other part of the process [other than the instrument in question] is acting up. Because the historical data is easily accessible, they can quickly tell if it is really the instrument like Operations thought or identify if it is something else going on that was unknown to everyone.
The Canary software also helps us compare and see where we can save money. With Canary, we can check flows and performance data on our skids and membrane trains and are constantly making adjustments to increase long-term energy savings.
Often one of the largest challenges within any organization is keeping open communication lines. Canary software allows for easy annotations, and Tuft’s team is well versed in using them. Tuft explains:
Operations input their results from the lab as well as hourly and daily walk-throughs, not only in the handwritten logbook, but also enter them into the Canary Labs software as an annotation. The annotation occurs directly on the trend line, at the exact time the event occurred or when they pulled their grab sample or lab results. They will often copy their Excel spreadsheets and paste into the annotation everything they have available, including mathematical formulas. They can also make quick annotations on the fly if there was a sudden process change, or if they are adding or deleting a pump.
All organizations are challenged to meet strict budgets, but few are as challenged as the water and wastewater industry. Tufts and the Boca Raton facility have found a unique way to leverage historical data to better cut spending. Tufts explains:
The Canary software also helps us compare and see where we can save money. We have a project in our membrane facility involving a consultant engineer conducting studies to save the facility money. In our plant, power bills can be in the millions of dollars per year due to the operating costs of electricity. With Canary, we can check flows and performance data on our skids and membrane trains and are constantly making adjustments to increase long term energy savings. By turning the historical data over to the consulting engineers they have the ability to easily understand our process and can compare everything. Also, Operation uses it to track all chemical usage. This is very useful for predicting costs and allocating the proper budget for both the funding and the pacing of chemicals based on the flows. With the Canary software they historically monitor every bit of the chemical that was used based on the total flows. They know exactly how much production was put out, and what they were using at the time, so they can have a tighter and much better number for budgeting for the next year, the next month, even the next contract.
Change is always difficult and most organizations have a hard time implementing new software. Canary Labs is a great solution, primarily due to its simple interface and intuitive nature. When asked about the software’s learning curve, Tufts replied:
It takes me less than ten minutes to show someone with basic computer skills how to use and generate their own reports, including exporting files.
We are very pleased with the Canary product. It is extremely efficient. We have been collecting 20,000 tags at one second intervals since 2006. It still runs flawlessly. We are just now taking the first 10 years of data offline to store it to the side, not because we have to, but just because we can. We haven’t had any issues with databases. Canary Labs’ technical support is by far one of the best software provider’s technical support that we deal with. There is always someone available immediately if or when there is every any issues.
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