Making Hydrant Flushing Easy

Water departments conduct hydrant flushing operations on a regular basis to minimize build-up of minerals and other sediments. Over time, these contaminants can affect water quality and water flows through the pipe.

Unidirectional hydrant flushing (UDF) is gaining popularity as a process to effectively flush water pipes while minimizing water loss. UDF isolates pipelines to flush water in a single direction. This process is normally designed by a consulting engineering firm to create the most efficient process possible. Managing the UDF process can be challenging and requires significant management time to properly implement in the field.

Cloud-based operations management software provides utility managers with a way to effectively implement UDF workflows without relying on paper-based systems.

Hydrant flushing management problems

Paper-based systems are a productivity killer, even though they appear to be simple and easy to maintain. But paper-based operations systems take a lot of time and knowledge to manage. Often, there are just a few employees who “know the system” and have been managing the system for many years. The manager is happy until a key employee goes on vacation or retires. Paper-based processes require extensive administrative time to manage and file. It is also difficult to maintain data accuracy when having to read handwritten orders and notes.

“I never have to worry about finding the information I need or that the information will be lost. My data is now just a tap away.”
Director, Buzzards Bay Water District, MA

Disconnected or outdated computer systems

Many municipalities use spreadsheets or database technologies to manage their hydrant flushing processes. These systems use less paper, but still cause problems. For instance, entering work order requests manually are labor intensive and mistake prone. Formatting and printing compliance reports manually is another productivity killer. Here’s a real-life example from the Robeson County, NC Water Department:

“The employees would record their data on a sheet of paper, and then manually enter it into an excel sheet on of two laptops that was located at the main office. The laptops were separated based on upper and lower parts of the county. Once all the information had been manually entered on both computers, the Water Treatment Supervisor would take a thumb drive and save all the inspections. He would then move the inspections to one computer to be able to produce his monthly reports.” Read case study here

Cloud-based data can be accessed anywhere

Accessibility to data is another benefit of cloud-based solutions. Managers, field service employees, executives, and compliance managers can access the application and data from multiple locations. Executives and managers can view reports and analytical ‘dashboards’ for real-time reporting. For instance, in operations management solutions, field workers can update work orders in real time. Managers or supervisors can access operations management reports while in the field, eliminating the ‘chained-to-the-desk’ atmosphere.

“Our (cloud-based management solution) has enabled us to organize, collect, share, and retrieve data like never before. The ability to manage and view assets and generate reports using any device at any location is successful for our operations.”
Water Treatment ORC, Town of Sparta, NC

Automatic software updates

Upgrading software is a major cost factor for on premise software. IT administrators need to keep track of multiple software products, which are often customized for the customer. The more complex the operation, the more difficult and costly it is to maintain the software. Cloud-based systems eliminate this problem by automatically applying updates and software fixes as needed. Solutions can be customized at any time. Since the users access the solution via an internet browser, the software updates are maintained by the service provider, eliminating the need for internal IT support.

Increased workforce collaboration

Many users agree that the ability to share data and collaborate from any type of computer (i.e. desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone) is one of the greatest benefits of cloud-based solutions. It streamlines the management of field service operations, frees managers to work in the field and not be ‘chained to the desk’. Field service workers and contractors can complete work orders, upload photos and videos, and even electronically sign orders from their mobile device. Cloud-based solutions even streamline the audit process. Managers simply give the auditor limited access to the system to view operations history and audit trails.

“Inspection and maintenance programs are no longer dreaded tasks, and when it is time to be inspected by State Officials, you just log in and shine.”
Water and Sewer Distribution Superintendent, City of Graham, NC


Data and internet security is a topic of concern for any operations manager. It seems there is a new data-breach or ‘hacking’ incident in the news every day. Maintaining a secure on premise computer solution is a major burden for IT administrators. Internal networks and servers are subject to the same data breaches as cloud-based systems, but since cloud computing providers serve thousands of customers, they have extensive security procedures in place.

“I never have to worry about finding the information I need or that the information will be lost. My data is now just a tap away.”
Director, Buzzards Bay Water District, MA

Other municipal water solutions

Cloud-based operations management solutions can help water directors perform all their major field-based tasks. Below are just some of the cloud-based solutions already developed for the municipal water market. Additional solutions exist for other industries including Wastewater, Stormwater, Roads & Highways, Natural Gas Utilities, Electric Utilities, and Telecommunications. Click Here to See More Water Industry Solutions

Utility Cloud makes operations management easy

Utility Cloud is a customizable cloud-based operations management solution that improves productivity and streamlines field service maintenance, asset inspection, and compliance reporting for municipalities, investor-owned utilities, and private service companies. The Utility Cloud solution incorporates technology not found in many enterprise operations management systems, including asset visualization and tracking via GIS mapping, SCADA integration, and automated report generation.

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