As one of the leading water engineering companies in the USA with an over 80 year history and 20 offices across the USA, the team at Carollo is always looking for the latest and greatest to master and deliver to their customers. For one recent client, the City of Chandler Arizona, that new solution was called Dream Report.
Every month, the City of Chandler generates a monthly operations report on their wastewater treatment facility. This report is used both internally and for EPA compliance. Their automation system is based on GE Intelligent Platform’s – Proficy HMI/SCADA – CIMPLICITY. It supervises the plant operations, acquiring data from an array of Rockwell Automation PLCs and then logs results into a Microsoft SQL Database.
Every month, an Excel spreadsheet was used to query data, update calculations and generate the required reports. This was both time-consuming and somewhat labor intensive. While this solution worked, it did require a particular knowledge set that was not always available and the solution did not offer any long-term document management, which would be beneficial for the organization and for retrieval of past results.
Carollo managed this solution and wanted to try something new. Report generation is nothing new to Carollo. With their focus and expertise on all things water, they’ve been managing reports with all manner of technology including Microsoft Excel (with automation plug-ins), SAP Crystal Reports, and Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). These solutions required a great deal of systems integration work and customization which meant more time was spent working with technology than actually focusing on delivering end-user value in terms of compliance or performance information. They were looking for a solution that delivered all the functionality they needed “out of the box,” without the need for programming, scripting or technology integration.
An ideal solution would interface with any automation system that they will encounter (in addition to this CIMPLICITY installation). It will be flexible enough to meet all of their compliance reporting requirements while also enabling the ability to deliver on additional uses for maintenance reporting, performance reporting, the display of KPI dashboards and the access of information via a web browser or mobile devices. While these features weren’t initially required in this application, Carollo knew that they would likely be requested and added in the future.
The engineers at Carollo had recently been exposed to a new solution called Dream Report, having heard about it in a news announcement. They arranged for a personalized webinar, hosted by Ocean Data Systems, and exposed their team to this new solution. Dream Report made perfect sense to them. It was purpose-built for the world of automation, as opposed to repurposing business technology, it delivered the statistics that are common to water and wastewater applications without the need for any creative math and logic, and it delivered a great deal of flexibility in terms of report generation, report access, and long-term management. Dream Report also delivers a web portal with the ability to both display past reports and ad hoc interact with process data through the use of report templates, with user configurable dates, times and data queries.
Mark Weston, an engineer from the Sacramento, California area, was tasked with learning the product and applying it for the City of Chandler. As with many veteran engineers, Mark dove right in, downloading Dream Report from the Ocean Data Systems (ODS) website. That triggered a follow-up call from ODS and the issuance of a trial license so Mark could build the application and show it to his customer. If Dream Report lived up to its promise, an order was sure to follow.
Without any formal training, Mark was able to watch videos on the ODS website, combine that with a few calls to ODS tech support in order to answer “what’s the best way” kind of questions, and ultimately generate the required reports. The process from start to finish, was at most, three days. Going forward, with the learning curve all but complete, the generation of a new report is a matter of minutes to hours, not days, as has been typical with alternative solutions, and Dream Report’s ease of use enables Mark to be focused on generating end-user value.
When asked what Mark’s top 3 first impressions were, he responded with:
- Ease of Use – this is a product that was designed to do this work and it makes the task very easy. All the capabilities are out of the box and it gets the job done.
- Flexibility – It’s surprising to see how easy it is to apply a workaround when there is a challenge. For example, their CIMPLICITY driver is built for the standard CIMPLICITY database schema. But CIMPLICITY allows schema customization and in this first application, the standard driver would not work. The workaround was to use the Dream Report relational database driver and map it to the custom schema. Dream Report supports all kinds of database formats and will also adapt to various record date and time formats. It was all readily configurable, and no programming was necessary.
- The Web Portal – This is a great feature of Dream Report. When reports are manually or automatically generated, they can appear in the Dream Report Web portal. There was no work in setting that up. I just had to press one button, and Dream Report created the portal and manages it automatically. It also gives us the opportunity to trigger new reports and interact with the reports (panning and zooming trend data and searching or sorting tables.) I can even do this from a smartphone.
Carollo quickly adopted and mastered Dream Report. In their business, reports typically come at the end of a project with time and money is already stretched to the limit. In addition to delivering the information their customers need, Dream Report also reduces the risks of project overruns, enabling Carollo to bid jobs and deliver on promises with a higher degree of certainty.