Digital Workflows Save Rural Water Utility $1.5 Million
Located in North Central Ohio, Rural Lorain County Water Authority (RLCWA) was formed in 1973. RLCWA has approximately 21,000 service connections and 1,200 miles of water mains covering a six-county area of 680 square miles. The utility serves 21 contiguous townships, 4 villages, and 1 city.
RLCWA's core operation is to purchase treated water from three main providers and distribute that water to rural areas in Ohio that would not otherwise have access to treated water.
RLCWA had always used a paper-based work order system to track meter changeouts. In 2017, RLCWA began a meter changeout program by which 19,000 meters would be replaced with radio-read models. The changeout program called for three, two-person crews to be operating at a time. This process had the potential for creating a backlog of work orders waiting to be entered into the billing system as well as making the tracking of progress of the project extremely difficult.
A more efficient method was needed to replace the paper-based process.
RLCWA had a well-developed geographic information system (GIS) using ArcMap, and the utility was in the process of implementing ArcGIS Online. Setting up an organizational account in ArcGIS Online enabled RLCWA staff to use Collector for ArcGIS on their tablets. The field crews were able to enter customer data and new meter information quickly, and by pairing the tablets with a GPS device, they could also accurately collect the location for every new meter. Workforce for ArcGIS was used to monitor the progress of the field crews. Data was displayed on a web map that provided a visual status report, allowing staff to easily track the progress of the meter changeouts.
Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS provided real-time status of the meters changed to date and the percentage of total meters completed, and it displayed comments on any issues during the meter changeout. It also identified work areas, enabling notifications to be sent out to customers.
Industry: Water Distribution
User: Rural Lorain County Water Authority (RLCWA), a rural water distribution system with 21,000 service connections
Challenge: Replace a paper-based process for meter changeouts with a more efficient digital solution
Solution: Implementation of the ArcGIS® platform: ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGISSM Online, Collector for ArcGIS, Workforce for ArcGIS, Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS
Results: $1.5 million saved by performing meter changeouts in house instead of hiring a consultant
Implementing the ArcGIS platform allowed RLCWA to more efficiently execute the meter changeout program. It provided the tools needed to collect, visualize, and share information via web maps and dashboards. Management was able to receive up-to-the-minute progress reports of the field crews and provide easy-to-understand updates to the board of directors.
RLCWA eliminated thousands of paper work orders and prevented hours of costly and time-consuming data entry by personnel in multiple departments.
Meter changeouts increased from an average of 15–20 meters per day to an average of 70 meters per day. Traditionally, it would take a clerk from two to three hours to enter the data into the billing system. Now, data on 1,000 meters can be loaded in 15 minutes.
Implementing the ArcGIS platform enabled RLCWA to perform all the work associated with the meter changeout program in house, saving the utility $1.5 million in contractor costs.
“The massive scale of our project necessitated a more efficient method of tracking the meter installations. By utilizing the Operations Dashboard and Apps we were able to keep the project on schedule and avoid creating a backlog of paper work-orders waiting to be processed.”
Joseph Waldecker - Assistant General Manager, Rural Lorain County Water Authority