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Waterschap de Dommel

Improving and learning in practice

As part of the course on Skills for Reliability & Maintenance Engineering, participants carry out concrete projects. Arno van Gorp of Waterschap de Dommel worked, among other things, on the project: ‘The flooding of the dry basement at Middelbeers pumping station’. He used the RATIO approach:

Reflect: Arno was confronted with the question: "How did it happen that a cellar with integrated pumps found itself under water?" This question was focused on finding the cause. Because future reliability is also important, Arno raised the question: "What can we do to avoid the dry basement of Middelbeers pumping station being flooded in the future and are there other pumping stations at the same risk?"

Analyse: To find answers to these questions, Arno, together with the experts involved, carried out an analysis. This research came up with the following reasons:

  • Factory-fitted vent valves in our pumping station provide extra air in the discharge line, in combination with discharge pipe profiles and output gauges of the pumps. This is a problem and may produce additional vibration in the pumps.
  • Due to the way they are mounted, the ‘water on floor’ protection devices installed by us are not foolproof.
  • The functional delivery procedure for a pumping station was not complete or was not performed correctly, so there are hidden problems and the 'start'- situation is not known.

Target: It happens quite often that an investigation ends up making a start, without the need for improvement actions to be formulated. In this case, the Event Map built up by the team indicated the right direction in order to select effective actions.

  • The vent valves in the Middelbeers pumping station were closed so that less air enters into the discharge line.
  • The output level of the Middelbeers pumping station has been adjusted.
  • A number of pumping stations with capacity/air problems have been tested to see whether these have anything to do with the points raised in the analysis. This appeared to be the case in a number of instances. These pumping stations were also adjusted.
  • The installation of the water on floor protection device is better defined in the standard. All the stations in the area were monitored and adjusted where necessary. (There appeared to be dozens of unreliable protection devices where the float switches could become mechanically stuck).
  • Procedures for completion of new pumping stations were discussed and where necessary amended. Some time after the improvements were been carried out, the results were measured and examined.

Implement: To prove that the actions taken have produced results, the improvement actions are measured and the new procedures evaluated.

  • There is no longer excessive vibration in the Middelbeers pumps as a result of the actions taken.
  • There is better insight into the workings of the entire pump system (pump with its corresponding curves, suction and discharge piping.
  • There are working ‘water on the floor’ alarms in all pumping stations.
  • There is clarity in the Projects Department about the problems with pumping stations that we, as a maintenance group, had been encountering over a number of years. They set out actions to deliver better and thus avoid problems.

Observe: How did the whole project go and what was the added value of the CoThink trainers? The project seemed fairly small. The main cause ‘a pump vibrating until it broke’ was quickly clear. Analyzing the root causes, determining effective solutions and the wider aspects of the problem took much more time. There were also many disciplines involved which all have their own opinion. Guidance was necessary to get them to agree together and to set out the right actions. The RATIO approach that is central to the course gives this guidance.

During this course, you become proficient in methods for exploring problems, finding the right solutions, as well as achieving agreement within the group and the capacity to implement it. By using different methods, you provide simple arguments for the chosen actions and can make the need for them clear to the managers.

Questions? Would you like more information? Please contact us.

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