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Goulburn Valley Water harnesses MES power

Goulburn Valley Water harnesses the power of Ampla to gain a better understanding of operational assets and drive improved operational effectiveness.

Goulburn Valley Water was the first water and wastewater utility in the world to install Citect’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES), Ampla.

The corporation initially examined four competing systems to identify a solution that would help make sense of the volumes of data its CitectSCADA system was generating. It also wanted an overview of all operational assets in real-time, and access to historical data and to identify ways to improve business processes. Following an extensive review of the four solutions, Goulburn Valley Water successfully piloted Citect Ampla and then began rolling out the system in 2005.

Citect recently honoured the company with an award acknowledging it for outstanding implementation and deployment of Citect systems. The award was presented at the Citect Connects 2008 User Conference in August.

“In the hands of an experienced and knowledgeable user Ampla helped turn our SCADA data into meaningful information which could be used to drive business improvement,” said Goulburn Valley Water operations manager, Ryan McGowan.

About Goulburn Valley Water

Goulburn Valley Water employs 180 people and provides water and wastewater services across 20,000km2 in north central Victoria — from the outskirts of Melbourne in the south, to the Murray River in the north. This area’s population exceeds 121,000 in 54 towns and cities.

The company’s infrastructure includes 40 water treatment plants, 26 wastewater management facilities, 340 pumping stations, 92 tanks and reservoirs, more than 1,600 kilometres of water mains and over 1,100 kilometres of pressure and gravity sewers.

Researching the Best Solution

Goulburn Valley Water is a long-term user of CitectSCADA software and the ability to monitor and control a large number of assets spread over a significant geographical area has allowed it to derive excellent value from its automation and control system. However in 2004, existing reporting systems were either too cumbersome or non-existent, and accessing the knowledge hidden in vast quantities of raw data collected from CitectSCADA was difficult and time consuming.

The corporation undertook extensive research to find the right reporting solution which would help the organisation improve operational effectiveness and cut back on the labour-intensive activities previously required to collect and analyse data from the automation and control system.

Due to time constraints, the project team researched user requirements and available MES solutions concurrently, and concluded that user requirements should drive the choice of solution.

The corporation began by consulting the existing users of CitectSCADA data, initially on a one-on-one basis and then together in a workshop environment, to ensure their needs would be met.

Four solutions were investigated and ranged from custom-built applications (from niche software vendors) to off-the-shelf products (from large software companies). The project team compared the following requirements:

-Ease of use, including minimal interfaces based on web or spreadsheet access

-Ability to integrate with disparate systems, such as water quality or asset management

-Both off-the-shelf and user configurability

-Would make use of existing data.

The Pilot

Goulburn Valley Water typically performs pilot programs for major software installations before proceeding with a full implementation. This increases the likelihood of success from an engineering and user perspective.

Following an investigation of the four different solutions, it was decided to pilot Citect’s Ampla software based on the following additional factors:

-The strategic fit with the CitectSCADA system

-Technological standards (.Net and SQL Server)

-An excellent user interface which meant minimal training was required to get users up-to-speed.

Ampla was piloted with the assistance of Citect Professional Services to ensure the end solution would fully meet the needs of the corporation.

“The pilot of Ampla was very important as it was the first installation of this solution in the water and wastewater industry,” said McGowan.

The pilot initially included a water treatment plant and a sewer pump station. The Operations IT team then added an additional water treatment plant to test user configurability. The pilot also allowed the team to identify ways to refine and fulfill user requirements, and determine what the performance and data storage implications would be if Ampla was implemented.

The pilot met all the original objectives and was a success. Goulburn Valley Water decided to put Ampla into production and engaged Citect Professional Services to assist with Ampla standards development based on what was learned during the pilot.

The Implementation

The implementation of Ampla began in 2005 and moved through the following phases:

-Standards development

-Configuration (both user and automated)


The main objective of the new roll-out was to move from an ‘install and fix’ mode of operation to a focus on continuous organisational improvement. To achieve this objective, the Operations IT team was tasked with:

-Introducing Ampla across all SCADA systems (regional and plant)

-Collecting and storing appropriate historical data

-Providing visualisation tools to allow users to:

-Access the data easily

-Obtain information themselves

“One of the main features of Ampla is the ability to easily ‘roll-up’ information over a number of sites, providing a new level of visualisation,” said McGowan.

“It was critical to define what CitectSCADA data was important to the corporation from the start to ease the configuration process and ensure as much value as possible could be derived from the entire system.”

During the second phase of the roll-out, the Operations IT team configured the system to start collecting information from CitectSCADA. Ampla was set up under the three major lines of business within the corporation: water treatment, wastewater treatment and sewer pumping.

Approximately 250 sewer pump stations had standardised tags within the SCADA system; the setup of these stations was largely automated in Ampla by manipulating configuration files via XML. The water and wastewater treatment plants were configured manually. Simple data entry was used to complete parts of the implementation. Mr McGowan says this illustrates just how easy Ampla is to configure.

Initially the Ampla web interface was provided to users. Information sessions were held for staff and users were able to learn how to use Ampla very quickly. Further training sessions were held when more information was required. Citrix was later used to further aid deployment.

Challenges and Timing

The following challenges were experienced during the project:

-The risk associated with being the first water utility to implement Ampla. This was mitigated by performing the pilot program.

-Fulfilling a large range of user requirements. Ampla was able to meet the bulk of user requirements but did not provide high-resolution data. This type of data is required for hydraulic modelling. This challenge was overcome by implementing CitectSCADA Reports.

The project timing was somewhat fluid due to the nature of implementation (internal resources were primarily used). However, the project was completed within the designated time frames.


Ampla provides Goulburn Valley Water with a real-time overview of operational assets and the ability to review data over any time period. The corporation can now view operations information either graphically or as text, and the drill down capabilities of Ampla enable users to look closely at specific issues. The charts featured below can be stored as ‘favourites’, meaning that once a display has been set up it can be re-displayed at the click of a button.

In the future Goulburn Valley Water has the option to interface Ampla with a number of disparate systems:

-Reticulation water quality — to analyse information from production through to the customer

-Asset management — to improve pump maintenance

-Energy management — to compare asset usage with energy costs.

Goulburn Valley Water in partnership with Citect has innovatively applied Ampla to the water industry and harnessed its power. The user-friendly nature of Ampla has allowed staff to operate the system effectively with only minimal training.

McGowan said, “Ampla has given both operators and management the ability to turn data into valuable information.

“Ampla provides greater insight into operations and operational assets, allowing staff to take action to improve the corporation’s overall effectiveness.”

Since rolling out Ampla, Goulburn Valley Water has also upgraded CitectSCADA from version 5.42 to 6.10.

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