net.work

The Way Business Is Moving

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Issue Date: July 2005

Fluid pools of data

1 July 2005

Integration and open source specialist, Technology Systems Integration (TSI), has completed the development and implementation of a laboratory information database for the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality's Waste Water Treatment Laboratory.
The database is a tailored, open source-based software system that TSI developed through the integration of a range of software elements and modules, including custom reporting tools. The purpose of the system is to manage sample data obtained from laboratory tests and online analysers. It is an electronic version of the data capturing processes the plant previously did manually, with the added benefit of speed and the removal of human error in the data capturing and analysing processes.
"Before implementing the laboratory information database, we captured data in Excel spreadsheets and then moved the information around on floppy disks," says Kerneels Esterhuyse, acting deputy manager: laboratory services at the Waste Water Treatment Lab. "However, this process was time-consuming, subject to disk corruptions which meant that data had to be recaptured, staff were letting errors slip into the data which comprised its integrity, and the audit trail of the data was very poor. Also, the volume of data was steadily becoming unmanageable. The laboratory information database has removed all of these problems and has made data processing at the laboratory faster and more reliable. The data is also far more credible than it could ever have been with manual processes."
The laboratory information database developed by TSI was installed on a central server and is Web-based, which allows users to access the system from any workstation with a Web browser, minimising the need for extensive user training. Data is received from the test instruments and analysers, and is centrally stored and remotely backed up, reducing the need for manpower and improving the safety of the data.
The reporting module enables a variety of reports to be easily generated in PDF format. Billing reports can be created and e-mailed to the administration department; result reports can be designed for customers; permit reports can be generated for monitoring authorities; and productivity reports can be produced for the laboratory manager.
"The functionalities that the laboratory information database brings to the Waste Water Treatment Plant enable them to easily and quickly access data that is error free; perform analysis on captured information; or create any reports needed based on accurate data," says Michael Brunzlik, TSI MD. "Users at the laboratory can also gain access to their data via external tools such as Excel. This means they are using tools that they are already familiar with and they can analyse data, search for anomalies, and experiment with graphs and pie charts without ever compromising the data's integrity. Costs were significantly reduced by utilising open source software components and tools making such a solution affordable. Previously this was available only to organisations with deep pockets."
The City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality is responsible for Ga-Rankuwa, Centurion, Temba, Mabopane, Winterveld, the northern Pretoria Metropolitan substructure, Soshanguve, Pretoria, Pienaarsrivier, Crocodile River, the greater Pretoria Metropolitan Council, Wallmannsthal and Hammanskraal.
Michael Brunzlik, TSI MD
Michael Brunzlik, TSI MD
For further information contact Michael Brunzlik, TSI, 011 792 1094, michael@tsi.co.za


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