Optimatics

Jun 14, 2019

Optimatics is the world-leading provider of infrastructure planning software that enables water and wastewater utilities around the globe to avoid billions of dollars in costs while ensuring optimal performance. Our Optimizer™ software is the industry’s most powerful tool for analyzing hundreds of planning options across multiple asset types, determining the best plan to reduce capital, operating and energy costs, while meeting all of the organization’s planning objectives. The unbiased and defensible outcomes promote financial stewardship and ensure sustainability for an organization and its stakeholders.

Figure 1. Easy-to-use and highly configurable user interface. Scripts facilitate adding external datasets (such as asset management data) that can participate in the multi-objective analysis.

Optimatics was founded by engineers who recognized the potential of Computational Intelligence to revolutionize water system planning. These advanced algorithms enable analysis of tens of thousands of trial solutions, where traditional methods allow a planning engineer to evaluate only a few. Hundreds of past applications have proved that using Optimizer results in an overwhelming decrease in the cost associated with capital projects and ongoing operation and maintenance expenses.

Utilizing the Optimizer™ decision support is an intuitive and powerful extension to the hydraulic modeling work performed in traditional planning studies. The overall level of effort required for an optimization analysis compared to a trial and error approach is similar, but your efforts are focused on defining a wide range of alternative options to consider, and your extensive experience is put to best use in critically reviewing the results of the optimization.

In basic terms, the steps in setting up and running an optimization analysis involve importing your hydraulic model into Optimizer, defining the infrastructure and operational decision options, and importing the associated costs and design/performance criteria to be used in the intelligent search process. You then turn over the laborious process of identifying an acceptable set of improvements and/or operating set points and allow Optimizer’s automated search to perform the running and re-running numerous simulation runs.

What are the benefits to implementing your technology?

Optimizer raises the level of your interaction with the model to focus on developing the best overall plan strategy, including investigating multiple objectives and creating several optimized plans for review. There is no need to make assumptions about locating and sizing improvements to create a plan or design that addresses all of the system deficiencies. Instead, you input the full range of possible improvement options and operating decisions into Optimizer. If your deficiencies analysis highlights a need for additional storage in the system, go ahead and input a dozen possible locations and then let Optimizer site and size the needed one or two storages as it also sites and sizes new or upgraded plants, pipes, pump stations, and control valves from among dozens or hundreds of choices you provide.

Figure 2. Example of water master planning use case that analyzed multiple asset types to solve multiple objectives using high-performance computing. More than 150,000 solutions were evaluated.

Optimizer has the power and computational intelligence to create and evaluate hundreds of thousands of alternative plans considering both hydraulic performance, cost, and other objectives simultaneously. Calling on high-end cloud processing resources, a series of Optimizer runs will enable you to develop solutions that you could not come close to identifying with traditional trial-and-error simulation, together with confidence that all solutions have been compared against the same set of objectives.

Using Optimizer, planners can typically expect to come up with solutions that perform better and cost 30% less than a traditional iterative approach.

Has the technology been tested, demonstrated, or implemented anywhere to date?

The software has been deployed directly or via engineering consulting firms at approximately 50 utilities in North America, Europe, and Oceania. From utilities with millions of customers, to those ‘bedroom communities’ with service populations under 20,000, Optimizer has been used to provide great value in any size utility.

What are some of the next steps needed to advance the technology?

Our software has been architected to provide as much flexibility as possible. This allows utilities to continue to come up with new use cases to apply the technology which results in greater benefits. A general manager for a large midwest utility recently stated that his planners are only limited by their creativity with respect to how the solution can be used for their planning work.

Figure 3. Example of an asset management use case that evaluated multiple objectives (Business Risk Exposure, Hydraulic Performance, and Lifecycle Cost) to identify the best performing solutions that are represented as red dots on the three-dimensional point cloud.

How has LIFT helped, or how can LIFT help?

LIFT can help create market awareness for Optimatics and other small companies that there is technology available that allows for smarter planning, greater efficiency, and better overall decision making. Our goal is to get the market to understand the tremendous benefit and value of our products and to adopt this approach as an industry best practice.