Made to Order

Two cities improve infrastructure management with software packages that enable high flexibility and customization to suit specific needs

Interested in Inspection?

Get Inspection articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Inspection + Get Alerts

Dublin, Ohio, and Lee’s Summit, Mo., are two very different cities — the latter more than twice as large. Yet both apply the same basic technologies to inspect and manage their critical underground infrastructure.

Dublin, a northwest suburb of Columbus with 41,000 population, installed its sewer system in 1974. It includes some 220 miles of gravity line, of which 38 percent is clay tile and the rest concrete trunk and plastic. The Streets and Utilities division deals mostly with sewers, but also does some basic stormwater conduit cleaning and inspection. All wastewater is treated at a regional facility in Columbus.

Lee’s Summit, population 93,000, has 518 miles of sewer pipe, 80 percent of it 8-inch lines. About 128 miles are vitrified clay pipe significantly older than 50 years. A private sewerage district plant treats the wastewater.

To meet their specific management requirements, both communities apply three data collection and management software packages:

• Cityworks asset management software (Azteca Systems Inc.)

• The ArcGIS geodatabase package (ESRI)

• Flexidata pipe inspection and survey software (PipeLogix Inc.)

Dublin: Setting goals

Dublin has had an official pipeline inspection program since 1990. “We started off with one cleaner and one TV truck,” recalls William Grubaugh, Streets and Utilities operations administrator. In the last two years, with the acquisition of new equipment, “We started a rotation and have mapped out a goal of cleaning and televising all of our sanitary sewer lines every six years,” he says.

In 2001, the city bought its first custom inspection truck (Pearpoint Inc.), which included flexidata software. “That gave us our first real opportunity to collect very good data about our sewer system, and then help us with databases and using that information in other areas of the city.”

The city holds a full flexidata office license for managing project creation and copying completed inspections up to a master database on the city’s network. The city also has a Light and DVS license for the inspection truck, a full license for managing manhole inspections, two mobile manhole licenses in the Engineering Department, and a full office license and mobile license for the GIS Department to use in engineering.

Data standards

For pipe jetting and cleaning, the city uses a Vactor 2100 Series PD low-axle combination truck and a 2001 Clean Earth SafeJet unit (Vacall Industries), each with a 1,500-gallon water tank. The inspection fleet consists of the original primary camera truck with mounted camera system, plus a Pearpoint Transportable Mainline Inspection System that can go into remote areas. This setup includes a model

P320 portable controller with hose reel, and a Series 400 pan-and-tilt camera and tractor.

In the beginning, the city used flexidata software in a stand-alone environment, recalls Maria Renzetti, IT Department project manager. “As they progressed and started to want more information, and to share information easily about the health of our sewer infrastructure, we found that we needed a better way to store the inspection data. We worked with PipeLogix to expand our flexidata use so we can now store that information in a database on our network.”

This eliminates data loss, since all data is backed up regularly. Other departments, such as engineering or the Services Department’s Sewer Team, can also access the database from their desks. “We can share it without burning CDs or DVDs or some other media,” says Renzetti. “So we now have storage for our database that can be maintained and grow with us. ”

NASSCO Pipeline Assessment and Certification Program (PACP) and Manhole Assessment and Certification (MACP) defect coding guides data formatting, and city employees and contractors alike use those standards.

Dublin contracts for about half its inspection work. “Our lining contracts require the contractor to inspect and clean the sewer line, do the rehabilitation, and then re-inspect to ensure that the product was installed properly,” says Grubaugh. “So while they’re working independently, they’re also gathering data, and they use our standards.”

Accessible data integration

Even powerful inspection data and GIS programs have limited value unless they can be referenced by an enterprise-wide asset management tool. Dublin chose Cityworks for its ability to work seamlessly with the city’s GIS solution. It integrates with ArcGIS and flexidata via portals that reveal their data within its screens for quick reference.

The Cityworks package serves as a central, single-source data repository that any user can log into and update in real time: multi-location synchronization is not necessary. That means everyone is on the same virtual page, looking at the same current data, as a basis for scheduling maintenance, allocating resources and budgeting.

“We have a sanitary main feature class or layer of GIS data,” says GIS administrator Brandon Brown. “That is referenced in Cityworks, so when any work order or anything done by our staff chooses those exact assets from a map, we know where each pipe is, its unique characteristics, and its maintenance history.

“Flexidata has a pipe table, which keeps track of information about each pipe and uses it to reference the survey and any videos. So a user would choose a pipe or set of pipes in Cityworks and create a work order. This order tracks the history of how much time we’re spending doing this work.

“Then an import process from flexidata grabs that work order and brings over any information that’s applicable about the pipe, like size and type, and puts it into flexidata. The surveys become tied to it at that point.” Cityworks tracks the amount of staff time applied to those tasks, along with hourly rates.

Seeing is believing

Renzetti says the system makes it easy to select assets. “By using GIS, you have a visual reference, so that you can choose the section of pipe or specific manhole you want to work on,” she says.

The visual aspect of ArcGIS and the way it interfaces with the Cityworks display makes the city more efficient in scheduling. “Because we can input work we would like to get done through Cityworks GIS, and because we can visually see what we anticipate doing in any given year, we can build our workload around that,” Grubaugh says.

“It has helped us tremendously. We do the work, bring the field data from flexidata into Cityworks, and then we know which work is left to do. We have so many miles of sewers, and we could easily duplicate work if we didn’t have this visual system.”

For ease of reference and logical crew deployment, he divides the city into sewersheds and assigns work along those lines. Pipes are color-coded by year of service. “That makes it easy to see where we need to be working, based on whether it’s a sewershed, or a project from another division, or if we need to look at pipes in a newly constructed neighborhood. It helps us plan our work to meet the goals we’ve established.”

Keeping things moving

Emergency situations don’t throw a wrench in the works any more. With the visual work record, a crew can easily walk away from what they’re doing, then come back and pick up where they left off.

The program also documents the crews’ response to emergency or cleaning calls, “so we have something we can report back to residents,” Grubaugh says. “When we clean the line, if they have a backup, we would know the last time we were there, what we found at the time, how many times that particular resident or sewer line has had issues.”

“The data we’re collecting and running through Cityworks to track equipment, labor costs, dates and times of service and what we’ve found, as well as point-of-contact information — who we spoke to, what the discussions were, and what resulted from our communication — are all vital to us. It helps us build a history with each resident and each asset in the city.”

Renzetti adds, “Having a place to indicate the types of calls we’re getting from a resident, and then being able to track the history of a call to resolution, was a big consideration.

“We were also looking for ease of use for our end users who have to input these work orders and select the asset — something that didn’t take a lot of time and just made a lot more sense to those doing the work.”

Lee’s Summit: Bigger picture

Lee’s Summit took an enterprise stance in its recent review of asset management processes. A current inflow and infiltration (I&I) study has concluded that 60 percent of the system’s I&I comes from private sources. Because the city does not maintain laterals, it hired a contractor to do the study and access the laterals from the homes.

The city runs ArcGIS Desktop with data housed in an SDE database on an SQL Server in the office. It also runs Cityworks to manage assets, and adopted flexidata when it came coupled with the inspection rigs.

The cities have two inspection and two cleaning trucks, all with two-man crews. Both run automated systems with mounted reel cameras on P420 tractors (Pearpoint Inc.). Goals are to clean a total of 8,000 feet of line per day and inspect at least 10 percent of that.

“We’re reviewing that, because I think we have the potential to cover a lot more,” says Ryan Ratcliff, water operations and wastewater supervisor. “I think most days we well exceed that already, so we’re developing what we believe the standard should be. Right now, our jetting cycle is every four years. Our TV program is tied to that, so it would be about 12 to 16 years before we televised 100 percent of our system.”

Inspection crews enter survey data into flexidata, running the DVS module with Light Reporting on two truck licenses and the GIS module under the office’s full management license. They format using proprietary codes.

Overcoming limitations

The crews don’t port their inspection data to the Cityworks software. “Cityworks, coupled with our GIS manages our inspection systems and associated program costs,” says Kelly Phipps, senior GIS analyst. “Ryan will create a work order in Cityworks of what infrastructure needs to be televised. We import that work order into flexidata through its built-in process. It pulls that asset’s information across from Cityworks, which is originally from our GIS.

“That survey is put on an external hard drive for the inspectors to use in the truck. They upload the TV data onto it as they work. Then we pull that information back into the office and load it into our sewer data ‘vault’ on a file server in flexidata format. Our current goal is just to allow people to access the inspection information, instead of replicating it in the Cityworks system.”

Over two decades, the city has built a detailed GIS database. “In the recent past, we’ve gone through a significant cleanup of all our sewer and water infrastructure,” says Phipps. “GIS gives you the ability to do a lot more, when you have that spatial component associated with it. For instance, using GIS and Cityworks gives you the ability to review work history throughout the recent past and see where your high-priority issues are. Where do you have continuing problems? Where do we need to focus, maybe, on jetting more?”

For 15 to 20 years, the city had been recording inspection data to VHS tapes, CDs and DVDs. “The only time that you could use that information was when somebody asked for it, and you had to go retrieve it,” says Ratcliff. “So there was no analysis being done on it. In the last year, we looked at how we could change our CCTV and flexidata software implementation to make the data more accessible. So we purchased that file server.”

Now, with the data available on the network, the Engineering Department, in a separate location, can easily access and review it.

Further integration

Now the team is looking at how to load the backlog of old video data. “Is it worth it to load that into our vault and then analyze it?” says Ratcliff. “Or is it better just moving forward with what we’re capturing on a daily basis? That’s a decision we’re going to make here shortly.”

Phipps and Ratcliff are researching how they can tie the GIS and flexidata databases more closely together to allow wider usage of the information. For instance, they get many requests for pre- and post-new-construction video inspections. They’re likely to consider the functionality available through Cityworks.

“The program is extremely flexible,” Phipps says. “You don’t have to take a canned approach and try to fit that to your business process. You can look at your business process and adapt it to that.”

Ratcliff already uses the program to schedule preventive maintenance, capital improvements and point repairs and consults the data when making decisions on emergency jobs.

The most immediate goal is getting easy access to comprehensive inspection data that will clearly show the condition of the sewer infrastructure. In line with that, he wants inspection operators to record as many observations as possible. “You want to make sure everybody is grading the problems they encounter,” he says. “As much information as you can collect, that’s what makes the process worth the time and money we put into it.”


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.