Sink or WIMS™: Data Management System Helps Inframark Manage a Changing Workforce with Increased Data Access

Matt Hoyle, Operations Data Analyst

Like many industries, the nation’s water and wastewater utilities are suffering from what some are calling the silver or gray tsunami.  The nation’s workforce depends on access to a qualified workforce – particularly sufficient numbers of certified water and wastewater operators that run the equipment and control the treatment processes for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater.  A looming shortage of highly trained workers needed to maintain these complex systems is occurring throughout the industry.  This shortage is due to both an aging workforce eligible for retirement and an inadequate “pipeline” to attract and develop new talent to work where they are needed the most.

This presents enormous challenges to communities across the nation, particularly those in rural areas without the workforce development infrastructure to develop skilled staff.  This poses numerous challenges that we must face head-on as an industry.  Inframark provides a huge benefit to small- and mid-size communities struggling with this very issue because we offer a pool of resources, knowledge, certified operators, and policies to pull from to ensure plants run efficiently and meet regulatory compliance.  Inframark realized early on that access to data in a timely fashion is the key to ensure that essential staff were making informed decisions to control plant processes, sample schedules, compliance, and chemical inventories.  A data management tool was needed to ensure success.

Inframark began implementation of a centralized compliance data management system in 2017.  We chose the Hach Water Information Management Solution™ (WIMS™) because the toolset provides our facilities with a complete picture of water or wastewater operational data in one location. Hach WIMS™ provides a mechanism for our staff to make decisions with confidence, which leads to an increased ability to meet regulatory compliance and offer cost savings to our clients.

The tool provides greater oversight of our operations as an organization to be able to pull from::

  • A central, secure database.
  • Built-in equations to manage complex calculations.
  • Integration tools to pull data from supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.
  • Troubleshooting tools to ensure data is validated.
  • Regulatory and internal report tools.
  • Customizable dashboards to aggregate datasets.

Hach WIMS™ provides tools to notify and alert project and regional managers when key plant processes are not operating effectively so that they can make decisions on a corrective action proactively, before it becomes a compliance issue.  Because plant data is consolidated in one centralized toolset, our operators can pull from a diverse pool of qualified water and wastewater professionals with a wide range of expertise.  This gives our team the ability to make determinations on what process changes may be necessary prior to them becoming a broader concern for the environment, or community health and safety.  Thanks to our team of experts using data in a way that provides greater oversight for decision-making, we can provide our clients an invaluable resource that benefits them, not only financially, but also in meeting the needs of their communities.

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