Synergy is Western Australia’s largest provider of gas and electricity, operating as a generator and retailer, to more than one million residential, business and industrial customers. The organization operates in an area known as the South West Interconnected System (SWIS), which extends from Kalbarri in the north, east to Kalgoorlie-Boulder and south to Albany.
STARLIMS ticked all of Synergy’s boxes for an off-the-shelf laboratory information management system (LIMS) that would take unnecessary manual tasks out of laboratory technicians’ hands, provide a mechanism to collate all chemical data for reporting and troubleshooting purposes in one central database and provide a platform for the laboratory team to operate unhindered by unsupported and unconnected systems.
The energy company was looking for a LIMS platform that could automate its routine laboratory test scheduling, enable direct results captured from analytical instrumentation into the software, and reduce the amount of manual data input, report writing, and reliance on spreadsheets. The ultimate goal was to deploy a single LIMS system that would simplify data collation and visualisation, interrogation and analysis, and facilitate more informed decision making.
Synergy started using STARLIMS in May 2015, and within its first year rolled the platform out to the majority of its power station laboratories.
STARLIMS automates the scheduling of water testing, and integrates directly with many analytical instrument platforms so that test results and instrument data are captured directly into the database, without any need for manual recording or data entry.
Anomalous or out of specification instrument readings and results are highlighted. Technicians are alerted and prompted to take corrective action or to request repeated testing. Details of the nature, time, date and instigator of all remedial actions are recorded within STARLIMS.
STARLIMS integrates with Synergy’s data historian, so that online data from field instruments can be viewed in conjunction with results and analysis from laboratory instrumentation. Decisions can be made on complete datasets, rather than on discrete packets of data.
- STARLIMS solution was deployed at Synergy, with configuration options providing Synergy with workflows and personalisation required; for example fine tuning of dashboards, screens, visualization, reporting, scheduling tools and permissions.
- Integration of STARLIMS to the laboratory instruments allows for user initiated test run lists to be sent to the instruments and verified test results to be automatically loaded into the STARLIMS database.
- Using STARLIMS has resulted in direct savings of an estimated five man hours per technician per week.
- STARLIMS promotes personnel responsibility and accountability. The system logs who has made new data entries, changes or deletions from the database.
- Technicians spend less time keying in procedural information, results data and generating reports. More time can be spent reviewing and analysing data and making sure that water quality is optimum for turbine and cooling tower operation.
- Information held in a single repository is more easily accessible to different departments within the organization.
- Integration of STARLIMS with Synergy’s data historian has allowed data and trend analysis through user-friendly graphical and other visualization options.
- Simply reducing the need for paper-based records has dramatically streamlined data storage and organization, accessibility and usability.
Synergy engineers monitor plant systems, including turbines, boilers, pumps and motors, by combining online performance data with STARLIMS data, to correlate performance with water chemistry. The overall platform allows engineers and chemists to derive a holistic view of plant performance that will not only aid troubleshooting, but will help to optimize operating parameters and conditions, ensure longevity of systems and components, and ultimately lead to additional cost savings and efficiencies.