Traditional information systems and consulting solutions haven’t exactly proven their capacity to deal with these multi-faceted environments, and all too often result in projects that exceed their budgets, yet seldom produce any results that are sustainable over the medium term.
Addressing these issues on a sustainable and cost-efficient basis therefore requires a unique permutation of information systems and consulting services that deal with the Utility/ Municipality/ Government holistically and address both the institutional and distribution issues that impact their performance. The EDAMS approach also recognises the productivity improvements inherent in the structured use of information technology and its impact on performance. The inventive use of management systems and consulting services have made it possible to develop more efficient and cost-effective methodologies that provide more benefits to the Customer:
Increases in revenues by optimising the billing function and rehabilitating the revenue management and customer services functions.
Reductions in operating expenses by optimising the utilization of existing network components, improving asset and maintenance management, and efficiently reducing and controlling losses.
Rationalisation of capital expenditure and rehabilitation costs through the use of demand models and dynamic master plans;
Long term sustainability by addressing the institutional and information systems environ-ments, empowering management, and at the same improving both the commercial and distribution functions of the Utility.
Compliance with regulation and increased service quality through proper monitoring of service and end-product quality.
Use of Technology
EDAMS Management Systems and make use of the latest advances in information technology:
Support for industry standards, such as Windows 7 / NT / Vista, object-oriented programming (C++), web-enabling, report generators, open client-server and multi-tiered architecture
The modular software design employed enables a phased implementation with unlimited growth options at any later stage.
Distributed and scalable system architecture that allows any system to be implemented in standalone mode on a single PC, or in a multi-user and multi-tiered distributed manner utilising relational database products such as Oracle or SQL Server.
Localisation: The products can be translated into any language provided it makes economic sense and subject to the Microsoft Windows operating system supporting the language. The systems currently run in a number of languages, including Arabic – a version of which has been successfully implemented in three Governorates in Middle Egypt (more than one million connections).
Easy to use, the modules are intuitive and user-friendly with innovative onscreen pictorial schematics that systematically guide the user in a step-by-step fashion through the more complex activity cycles.
Software Development is carried out in a strictly-controlled environment, using a formalised SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) process and overseen by product managers. Input from all three relevant departments that deal with specific projects - product management, software development and product services - are also taken into account. • A flexible Database API (Application Program Interface) is employed, enabling easy integration with most commercially available database systems. Currently integration exists with Oracle 9i/11g or MS SQL 2008 RDBMS.
flexible Database API (Application Program Interface) is employed,
enabling easy integration with most commercially available
database systems. Currently integration exists with Oracle 9i/11g
or MS SQL 2008 RDBMS.
Data protection mechanisms: The systems support a number of software features that have been specifically designed to protect the integrity of data, including the protection of data and transactions during system interruptions (e.g. power failures), transaction rollbacks, updating of transactions from remote or off-line workstations, etc • Master data dictionaries: EDAMS databases are built on a data dictionary, which provides a complete description of record layouts and indices of the database for validation, ensuring efficient data access. The dictionary can be used for automated database creation, including building of tables, indexes, and referential constraints, and granting access rights to individual users and groups. The data dictionary stores useful metadata, such as field and table descriptions, field units, record types etc.
Master data dictionaries: EDAMS databases are built on a data
dictionary, which provides a complete description of record
layouts and indices of the database for validation, ensuring
efficient data access. The dictionary can be used for automated
database creation, including building of tables, indexes, and
referential constraints, and granting access rights to individual
users and groups. The data dictionary stores useful metadata, such
as field and table descriptions, field units, record types etc.
Audit trail mechanism: Audit trails are records of user activity. EDAMS’ audit trail mechanism provides a detailed description of each activity. Every transaction executed by a user is recorded in the audit trails. Analysis of audit trails may reveal attempts by users to perform un-authorized functions as well as limitations in the design of the security model and the implementation of authorizations and profiles.
Elements mechanism: EDAMS elements are compound and customised GIS features with pre-packaged information attached to them. Elements are used to avoid cluttering on the screen and drawings. For example, an element can be a reservoir site and it can include information on the characteristics of each reservoir on the site, as well as they way they are connected to each other. The EDAMS Management Systems data structure makes provision for all the different types of network elements associated with the different services A database infrastructure exists for each element, which is identified in such a way so as to form an engineering entity.
Units mechanism: The systems allow for a flexible and dynamic unit mechanism. The user can define his/her operational unit preferences and the system will be dynamically customized accordingly. Unit preferences can be defined at a workstation level to apply to an individual user or defined as a general use default.
For more information please read: EDAMS Technology Overview 3.0
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EDAMS Cloud Computing Solutions
The EDAMS range of Management Systems has been specifically re-designed from an on-premise enterprise system to become entirely cloud-based. The solutions are operated-as-a service model (SaaS)
lowering considerably the costs of running.
Solutions on the cloud takes out the heavy up front capital
investment, minimizes operational expenses, and provides faster
implementation time as well as the ability to dynamically scale up or
down based on usage. EDAMS Cloud solution alternative provides major
benefits for the customers, i.e.:
Better utilization of resources.
Frees administrative resources by outsourcing non-core applications
Reduces IT capital requirements with an elastic pay-as-you-go operating expense model
Improves data protection with affordable backup and disaster recovery
For more information please read: EDAMS Cloud Computing Solution
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Appropriate Data Model & Data Structures
EDAMS Management Systems have a dedicated data structure that has been specifically designed to address the realities facing Utilities/ Municipalities/ Government departments. The software enforces data integrity through the nature of the relations between data elements. The diagram below indicates the data model for a typical Utility.
Embedded best practices procedures
EDAMS Management Systems enforce data integrity through the way in which functions are designed to operate and interact with the user. The process flow of key functions in the software is based on best practices for the industry, and forces the user to follow sound business processes that will ultimately result in improved data quality, productivity and performance. For instance, the software forces the customer services officer to follow a preset business process to review and authorise an application for a new service or to change an aspect of an existing service. The diagram below indicates a typical procedure embedded in the system.
capturing and data maintenance
Data capturing and/or data conversion, whether customer data for the billing system or network data for the asset management system, will be captured, analysed, verified and validated in a structured and systematic manner through the respective systems in order to ensure a valid, up-to-date and reconciled database. The structured use of data validation routines and discrepancy reports, as provided by the systems, will ensure that all omissions, gaps, duplicates and erroneous data will be highlighted and rectified – whether during data capturing or subsequent data maintenance operations.
Data evaluation and validation
Data integrity can be further improved if a structured approach is followed to systematically analyse, validate and field reconcile commercial data. The EDAMS Management Systems support a number of dedicated routines that will simplify, and to a large degree automate, the analysis and validation of billing and network data, and simplify the reconciliation of field validated data.
All the EDAMS Management Systems share a
common relational database structure, and are functionally
fully-integrated. Seamless GIS (Geographical Information system)
integration for all EDAMS Management Systems is enabled through the
EDAMS GIS module. This is based on a robust and effective data model
for utility networks and can be used to interface with external GIS
systems as well as EDAMS Management Systems.
The benefits and spin-offs of this
integration are ample:
It enables the effortless and dynamic exchange of data and transactions between the different user departments. On a transaction level, for example, a call logged through the customer services module of EDAMS Billing & Customer Information will result in a job card being issued by EDAMS Operations & Maintenance to replace the meter)
o In most Utilities two different connection/meter databases exist - one found at the Billing department and the other at Operations & Maintenance. In many instances these differ from each other considerably.
o In most Utilities different network GIS databases exist to serve each department; especially for maintenance management and hydraulic analysis. This is because the data requirements of the two departments differ. If the design of the data model were re-defined to enable a sharing of data, the resulting networked data model could be used for all relevant applications, such as financial asset management, maintenance management, zoning and zone management, as well as the design and planning of hydraulic analysis.
As a result of the dynamic exchange of data and transactions, as well as the sharing of data, the EDAMS Technology model of integration bridges the counter-productive divide between the accounting and engineering departments often found at Utilities/ Municipalities.
The sharing of data further enables additional functionality, otherwise not possible. For instance, monthly consumption figures that originate in EDAMS Billing & Customer Information can be used by EDAMS Operations & Maintenance as input data so as to generate proactive meter replacement programs.
Demand Management / Conservation Planning can only be enabled through this integrated approach as the relation between consumer and network is essential. Functionality such as mass balancing – even on a real-time basis if telemetry is employed - evaluation of demand standards, dynamic demand forecasting and dynamic master planning are all made possible.
The EDAMS Management Systems maintain a great deal of historical data, ranging from meter readings to customer records to maintenance records. Suitable combinations of such data result in more relevant and appropriate management information and statistics – reports particularly important for strategic and long term planning purposes.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) form the backbone of any Utility’s asset management functions and are used in roles that vary from map production and digital terrain modeling to demographic analysis and network asset registers.
All data elements in the EDAMS Management Systems that are geographically located have a graphical component and are accessible to all the systems. These include network elements and connections, plots, and properties as well as zonal elements such as townships, engineering zones, etc.
The EDAMS GIS Interface offers the EDAMS user a cost effective and efficient solution by providing links to generic GIS systems, such as ArcInfo products by ESRI, and further provides seamless GIS integration for all EDAMS Systems.
Interfacing with ERP
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are used to cater for enterprise business processes such as accounting and human resources and to manage specialist functions such as the supply chain or customer relations.
EDAMS Management Systems support a generic interface to ERP systems. The interfaces export the data in a variety of formats including CSV (comma separated values), ASCII text, tab delimited text, XML, ODBC, MS Excel, MS Word and HTML. Users can easily modify the export data structure using the visual designer of Crystal Reports to modify the export template. This data can be imported by any financial management system that supports an import facility for externally captured accounting journals. The main links between ERP systems and EDAMS Systems are shown in the diagram below.
Integration with telemetry and SCADA
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and telemetry systems play a vital role in the monitoring (flows, pressure, temperature, status of valves, etc.) and control of the operational behaviour of distribution networks.
EDAMS Management Systems have user-definable conversion functions that cater for the importing and storing of telemetry data. The frequency of readings depends on the intended use of the data – EDAMS will sieve through the data and store information at a predetermined interval as per user definable criteria for each particular case. In the case of network readings, such as flows/loads, pre-processing can be performed in order to fill in missing data and to transform the readings to more meaningful information that can be saved in a database.
EDAMS Management Systems do not substitute the telemetry system, but take full advantage of the data collected by it. It furthermore provides the necessary input to Operations to enable decisions regarding the operation of the system. In case of certain categories of alarms, such as switching a pump on when a reservoir level is too low, no further processing by EDAMS Management Systems is required, and the operator’s reaction can be immediate.
In summary, the following functionality is enabled:
Update records in the database such as bulk meter readings.
Calculate and update consumption behaviour in the database, such as daily consumption patterns per metered zone; typical demand distributions (/area/day/season); relevant Peak Factors (daily, weekly & monthly). Consumption behaviour is used to predict future consumption patterns.
Preventive Maintenance: by gathering information of operational logs for network elements such as pumps, transformers, etc. – data such as counter readings, operating times and energy consumption, as well as user-defined indicators such as temperature and pressure, used by EDAMS Operations & Maintenance for reactive maintenance.
Loss Management program: To perform Night Flow (leakage) analysis (water supply), to compare overall losses with physical losses, to note any abnormal rise in flow through real-time balancing, raising the alarm to a possible leak occurring in the area.
Incidents and Emergencies: To compare recorded data with predicted values / patterns and issue warnings when necessary, for example an extremely low pressure in a water supply system can signify a major leak.
EDAMS Management Systems utilise the Crystal Reports® for Windows by Seagate Software Inc. for the production of reports. Besides acting as a powerful standalone, report-creating application, Crystal Reports provides a report-writing module that developers can add to their applications.
A multitude of ready-made reports for users to execute are incorporated. Users can modify and customise these reports or add new ones by using Crystal Reports. The Report Engine enables printing to a printer or a Preview window. In addition, files can be exported through e-mail, directly to disk, to a Microsoft Exchange folder, to a Lotus Notes folder, or to an ODBC data source. The report can be exported in any of several word processing, spreadsheet, database file, or data exchange formats including HTML.
Intelligent Reporting: A large amount of data is stored in the EDAMS Database, which provides the platform for the EDAMS Management Systems. Directly accessing this information, if not already available in standard reports, requires a thorough knowledge of the database structure and querying language. To overcome this problem, EDAMS Technology has created a Components mechanism that provides a foundation for each of the reporting functions and pre-packages the database relationships and information in manageable objects. Components are provided in each of the functions of the Reporting module to help the user choose the desired data.
To enable further easy reporting, an Intelligent queries engine is made available. Reporting is available through Queries, in a Table format in a Thematic Map or as an Annotation in EDAMS GIS, through a Graphical Template or a Crystal Reports template.