After-hours external monitoring service cuts utility’s costs in half



The situation

When Ishøj’s town council cut the city’s after-hours monitoring service for the local wastewater utility in 2013, the company already knew the true expense and hassle of running such a service on its own.

Previously, the city’s own low-tech, online system monitored water and wastewater lines, district heating and lighting. At the time, Ishøj Forsyning was still a relatively new utility, established in 2010. Located south of Copenhagen, Denmark’s capitol, it has some 250 kilometres of sewer and rainwater lines and about 30 pumping stations. It does not treat sewage but sends it to a larger plant in Copenhagen.

“Our staff had a duty roster, where someone would be on stand-by in the evenings for a whole week in case of calls,” says Henrik Lemée, wastewater engineer at Ishøj Forsyning. “This was part of the municipal system, and the municipality would send error messages – thermo error, stop, power failure and high water, for instance – and the employee then had to start his car in themiddle of the night, drive to the pumping station, check what was wrong and then act. Often he just had to press a button, reset, and then go home and sleep. It was expensive.”

Add to that hundreds of overtime hours, and the logistical problems began to add up. The utility had to give them workers the time off. “That resulted in them not being available during the day when they were supposed to work, so we were often short of staff,” Henrik Lemée says.


The solution

Ishøj Forsyning had already began looking for ways to upgrade its monitoring. The first step was upgrading its online control system.

“We heard about Grundfos Dedicated Controls,” he says, mentioning its remote management system for wastewater transport monitoring. Ishøj installed it, along with the broader Grundfos remote management system on one station in 2013. Its operators were impressed with the easy,online access to pump data, as well as the ability to control or monitor the equipment via tablets and smartphones.

“Everything was online. You automatically received error alerts from the pumping stations,” Henrik says.

Ishøj installed the Grundfos remote management system in six more stations a year later and on all of its pumping stations by 2015. Already, the utility was saving half the operation costs it previously used for monitoring.

Still, employees had to take turns being on-call at night, and the problem persisted with overtime and extra costs for its in-house emergency service.

So the utility asked if Grundfos could take over responsibility for the actual monitoring on nights, weekends and holidays – first with a year’s trial.


How it works

On weekdays, Ishøj Forsyning’s operations personnel go off duty between 3 in the afternoon and 7 the next morning. This is when Grundfos takes over remote monitoring of Ishøj’s pumping stations from its headquarters in Bjerringbro, Denmark. With any errors in the Ishøj system, the remote management system sends an alert to Grundfos’ on-call service.

Depending on the type of error, the Grundfos staff determines whether the error needs immediate attention. In that case, Grundfos sends a service technician to the pumping station, and he determines whether it can run on just one pump until the following day, or whether he needs to get it working again.

In similar fashion, Ishøj Forsyning has given Grundfos the duty to take any emergency citizen calls (sewer back-up) that come after hours.

“At 7 a.m. when our operations staff arrive and turn on their screens, they see there’s been a call, and we get a note from Grundfos explaining the call, what’s been done and if more might be needed,”  Henrik says. “Then we take over.


The outcome

Henrik Lemée says the remote service agreement has meant the utility has cut its costs for monitoring by “much lower than half price.” And it has just made everything easier.

“The cooperation has been excellent,” he says. “The operations staff has participated in the decision-making. They wanted the best possible solution to make their work easier. Our experience is that we save a lot of time. The system gives us a good overview and confidence.”

“More sleep,” says wastewater technician John Holger with a smile. “I get to sleep. It just works. Someone is always there to monitor.”

“If there’s a power failure and we do not react quickly, houses might be flooded – and that’s not good marketing,” adds Henrik Lemée. “We all sleep better at night when we don’t have to worry about what might happen if a pumping station malfunctions.”

He says that over the last six years, the utility has gone from four operations staff to two, thanks in part to the Grundfos solution.

“From the pumping station renovations, modernizing and streamlining things together with Grundfos, employing the newest technology that makes the work easier… it all means that in Ishøj, two operations staff can manage the job. That’s a gain. And they have a manageable workday. That’s good.”


After-hours wastewater network monitoring service


Ishøj, Denmark


Ishøj Forsyning (water and wastewater utility)



If you need a similar solution, please contact us for further information.


If you need a similar solution, please contact us for further information.

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