Samra finds fluid solutions to boosting Jordan’s water security

Published: 21 September 2020 - 7:38 a.m.
By: Baset Asaba

With a rapidly growing population and limited rainfall, Jordan understands the value of water. The country has long taken a careful approach in utilising its scarce water resources, and this was amply demonstrated back in 2006 when the country opened Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant, a state-of-the-art facility that serves the capital city Amman and the neighbouring city of Zarqa.

Serving a population of some 5 million people, Samra was constructed under a 30-year build, operate and transfer (BOT) agreement with the Ministry of Irrigation and Water in Jordan, and is managed by a joint venture between SUEZ and Consolidated Contractor Company (CCC).

The plant was one of the first in the world to reclaim energy from turbines powered by the flow of untreated water and biogas, while most of the treated water is re-used for farming irrigation in the Jordan valley, putting the plant at the forefront of the government’s sustainability ambitions.

The plant has the capacity to treat 370,000 cubic metres of wastewater daily and is currently running at almost 92% capacity. While a major expansion is planned in 2021-2024 to further increase capacity, Samra’s leadership have also been looking carefully at other means of improving the overall efficiency of the plant, and one of the key areas they isolated was to improve the management of assets.

Asset health

Samra’s operation relies on hundreds of thousands of diverse assets, from pipes and pumps to the energy generation systems, site buildings, and moveable equipment, which are worth millions of dollars. The operation to manage and maintain these assets is huge, with 65 staff in the maintenance department, and a significant amount of additional work subcontracted to other companies.

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The maintenance is more challenging than a conventional wastewater treatment plant owing to Samra’s unique power generation. Indeed, 87% of the electricity used to run the plant is generated by five hydro turbines powered by the flow of wastewater on its 45km downward journey from Amman to the treatment plant in Zarqa, along with 10 biogas generators that extract methane from the wastewater. This extensive power generation technology, and the fact that wastewater rather than clean or grey water is used to run the turbines, brings additional maintenance requirements.

The challenge

So, how does SAMRA manage and maintain all these assets? When Samra first started operations, the maintenance team used a basic CMMS (computerised maintenance management system), which served the organisation from 2006 to 2008 but started to show limitations, not least because the system was becoming obsolete and system support was limited. It also had a narrow scope, providing little in the way of solutions to deliver preventive maintenance.

The team had started to adapt various tools from another vendor to enhance asset management, but the system lacked cohesion and felt like a stopgap. “There were many limitations in the previous CMMS including its low reporting capabilities,” said Anas Al-Momani, Asset Division Manager (Maintenance Manager) at SAMRA. “It didn’t contain all the features needed to manage the asset life cycle, from purchasing to operations to disposal, which meant there was a lack of traceability of transactions. The purchasing cycle was done on Excel spreadsheets with the manual signature collection, so there was no link between stock inventory and the purchasing department.”

Al-Momani added that the organisation’s asset management procedures were time consuming, and led to uncertainty and human error, such as ordering equipment or parts that were already in the inventory. “At this stage, we knew that we needed an EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) system that would be comprehensive, flexible and easy to plan and monitor,” he said.

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Samra discussed EAM systems in-depth with its joint venture partner, SUEZ, which had extensive experience working with EAM systems around the world. The company listed all its core needs for an effective EAM tool, such as purchasing and stock management capabilities, and then conducted a thorough assessment of what it required to achieve best-in-class asset management and achieve the maximum benefits from EAM.

This led Samra to select Infor EAM, which was deployed in 2012 by Intertec Systems, one of Infor’s Gold partners in the Middle East since 2001 with more than 100 successful EAM implementations. By the end of the year, Samra had completed the migration of all its asset data and schedules and automated all its purchasing cycles to the new system.

The deployment was extensive, with more than 20,000 tags including some 4,000 assets with preventive maintenance schedules covering equipment worth hundreds of millions of dollars and distributed over four physical locations.

Infor EAM transformed Samra’s ability to perform preventive maintenance, which has helped to boost the life of assets and massively reduce incidents of component failure in the field. This also means that technicians are using their time more effectively, checking and maintaining assets to set schedules rather than having to respond to asset failures.

Al-Momani and his team have calculated that by using Infor EAM, Samra is saving between 5 and 10% on its annual maintenance budgets.

However, despite these successes, the maintenance team continues to expand the scale and scope of Infor EAM at Samra, adding more assets into the system and exploring additional features to gain the maximum benefits from the system.

More recently, Samra integrated its EAM system with Infor SunSystems, a financial management system using Infor ION as its middleware. This means that all purchases and financial transactions involving assets are now automatically transferred in real time to financial records, delivering enhanced cost control and budget monitoring practices. The process is automated and helps Samra to generate accurate budget reports in minutes rather than days. “It’s very accurate and takes into account currency exchanges and all the expenses for shipping and the indirect costs of parts and maintenance,” Al-Momani added.

Samra has also ensured that its EAM deployment provides information to help the organisation meet all of its health, safety, and environmental requirements, which improves its ability to comply with — and even exceed — standards in these fields. “We had many auditors and sponsors and other parties who ask for traceability of transactions and asset life, and Infor EAM has made it far easier to meet all of the strict criteria that we have to meet,” Al-Momani said.

Moving ahead

Looking forward, Samra is planning to implement a comprehensive digital transformation plan, and Al-Momani said that EAM will be an important part of this, particularly as Samra seeks to automate more aspects of its operations with Infor solutions. Additionally, Samra is committed to automating its work orders by implementing Infor’s Mobility module, which will enable work order processes to become paperless.

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The company also intends to integrate Infor EAM with its existing Microsoft Power BI deployment, to increase the team’s ability to generate performance reports and KPIs. “We have a plan to enhance information analysis and performance report generation by integrating Power BI with Infor EAM,” Al-Momani said.

The maintenance team is also keen to enhance the usage of the Safety Permit component in Infor EAM, which helps to boost safety by ensuring that technicians have access to, and use, the correct protective equipment for potentially hazardous tasks.

Above all, Al-Momani stressed that Infor EAM will be essential as Samra expands its operations and capacity starting in 2021. The project, which is due to be completed in 2024, will increase Samra’s capacity to treat wastewater by about 30%, or an extra 100,000 cubic metres per day.

“This project will allow Samra to cater to growing demand and will also bring a lot more assets online, which will be added into our EAM system and schedule,” Al-Momani said. “We’re excited by the plans and look forward to using Infor EAM to ensure the expanded plant’s assets run at maximum efficiency.

“Water is a scarce resource in Jordan and as the population continues to rise, it’s imperative that Samra is able to play a major role in helping to ensure water security. In the maintenance department, we’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far, and we’re excited to raise the bar even further as we expand the facility,” Al-Momani added.

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