Chicago water district upgrades computer system
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Chicago, which encompasses 124 municipalities, has upgraded its computer maintenance management system (CMMS) with one that is Y2K-compliant and better suited to today’s technology. The decision was not hard to make, since the district’s previous computer system had become obsolete.
In 1989, with more than 2,500 employees throughout its seven plants and office sites, MWRD realized it was operating fairly randomly with too many unscheduled activities. The district invested in a CMMS when it saw a need for greater productivity, better scheduling capabilities and more effective cost controls.
When MWRD implemented the CMMS in 1991, the system was state-of-the-art, but, because it was locked into a mainframe platform, it quickly became obsolete. The district needed to get more use out of the data than the system would allow.
For example, MWRD officials wanted the capability to attach electronic documents, images, drawings, planning sheets and file correspondence to work orders inside a maintenance management system. By the mid-1990s, the decision was made to purchase a PC-based CMMS from J.B. Systems, Woodland Hills, Calif. MWRD also invested in 700 new computers and installed Mainsaver 5.0, a Windows-based program that includes modules for maintenance, materials, purchasing, paperless work management and bar codes.
The software and equipment, which were first installed in 1996 at the John E. Eagan Water Reclamation Plant in Schaumburg, provided the district with new functionality including a graphic user interface that enabled users to easily access MWRD’s in-house inventory system. “MWRD has a maintenance engineer who can now design a solution to a problem in a computer-aided design program,” says Joe Grassi, a consultant for Topanga, Calif.-based Grassi Associates, which helped implement MWRD’s system. “That image is electronically attached to a work order to provide construction detail to a work crew. No paperwork is generated unless it is specifically requested.”
The CMMS was installed at the Hanover Park plant in November 1997; at the John Kiries Plant in Des Plaines in February 1998; and at plants in the communities of Skokie, Calumet and Lemont. An installation at the Stickney plant is slated to be completed in March 1999. That facility, which treats more than 1.2 billion gallons of wastewater per day, is the world’s largest wastewater treatment plant. MWRD also is implementing the new CMMS at its headquarters building to handle all the building engineering and maintenance.
Resistance to change was one of the chief problems officials encountered in the first few months after implementation began. Management was installing computers in places where there had been none, and employees worried about how their jobs would be affected.
However, MWRD overcame that problem through training programs. More than 500 people were trained in small groups, with trainers putting an emphasis on building the employees’ trust and confidence. The employees eventually embraced the new system as something that would help them become more organized and efficient.
MWRD has saved more than $21 million since it implemented its first CMMS in 1991, says spokeswoman Peggy Bradley. The organization expects continued savings with the new client/server setup, and it anticipates that the system will be useful for a long time. The system is more user-friendly than its predecessor and will be more flexible when it comes to adding and interfacingwith new software modules, according to MWRD officials.