Field Equipment: Considerations for Configuration

FlowWorks has the capacity to connect with data logging hardware from a large variety of makes and manufacturers. Regardless of which data logger brand(s) you choose to deploy in the field, it is important to have the data configured correctly, so that syncing with FlowWorks can be seamless.

This topic discusses some key notes and considerations, for when you are initially setting up your loggers for data relay.

If you have any hardware-related questions (such as installation), please consult the manufacturer directly.

Metric vs. Imperial Units in FlowWorks

FlowWorks stores data in the exact units as received by the data logger. This is a best practice we maintain in order to ensure that we have a 'backup' of un-touched data to fall back on, should we need to refer back to the raw data at any point in time.

If in FlowWorks you need to see the data in metric rather than imperial or vice versa, we recommend using FlowWorks' Advanced Calculation Engine (FACE) to convert the data. Using FACE, you can set up a new Calculated channel that consistently copies-in data from the original channel and applies a desired unit conversion formula. The resultant data in the Calculated channel can be used for any form of analysis in lieu of the original channel, thus leaving the original channel untouched in case a back-up is ever needed.

For step-by-step instructions on setting up a new Calculated channel for converting data units, please see this knowledge base article.

Standard vs. Daylight Savings Time in FlowWorks

We are often asked by our clients why we always program field data collection systems in Standard time, and why we never collect or show data in Daylight Savings Time. The main reason is for long-term consistency, and it usually only gets appreciated years later when all of that great data gets looked at by someone doing a multi-year study. Here’s an example:

A client has been using FlowWorks for several years, and is now ready to do some sewer inflow & infiltration (I&I) analysis work. The client downloads a block of data, or uses the FlowWorks I&I analysis tool for this purpose.

When you do this type of analysis, you remove a dry weather flow pattern template from the total flow data. It is essential that all of the data be in Standard Time, otherwise you run the risk of using dry and wet weather templates that are shifted relative to each other by one hour (dry weather often being taken when Daylight Savings Time is in effect, while wet weather events are often during Standard Time). The result is sometimes subtle and difficult to see, but often leads to the wrong inferences being generated in the analysis.

We’ve seen this happen in many other situations. For example:

  • Operations staff will look at data and want to know when the early morning low sewage flow comes, in order to plan for some maintenance work in the pipe. Not being sure if the data is in Standard or Daylight time causes confusion. With FlowWorks, nearly everything is always in Standard time.
  • Comparing data from two different rain and storm stations (one running in Standard Time, the other in Daylight) causes confusion and puts a one-hour error on the timing of the rain peak relative to the storm peak.

Whenever we have the choice, we always run our data collection platform in Standard Time as we believe it is a best practice, and avoids as much confusion as possible. It is true that there is an inconvenience associated with all of the data being stored in Standard Time, usually when the data is being used for very casual review by someone who is not used to Standard Time, or if trying to pin down the time that an actual event (such as a sewer overflow) occurred. However, the long-term benefits of keeping all data on the same time signal certainly outweighs the inconvenience.

If you find that you absolutely must have the correction for Daylight Savings Time applied to your data, talk to us! We may be able to provide you with a workaround.

Internal vs. Display Site Name

One of the greatest advantages to using FlowWorks is its ability to view, manage, and analyze your infrastructure as if it were one homogeneous network – no matter the variety of hardware manufacturers within your network.

With that said, one of the most common problems users find is making sense out of the self-identification capabilities of each logger that is out in the field. Some devices are fully programmable and permit your data to arrive with a label that makes sense to you; others are less programmable and strictly insist on utilizing its serial number for identification.

FlowWorks permits you to push this problem into the background, by way of creating a display Site name that is visible only within FlowWorks. Rather than replacing the internal Site name, the display name simply overrides the internal name in FlowWorks, thus making it much easier for you to identify Sites.

Both names can be the same if your logger supports such programming; but more often than not, they are completely different. It is the internal Site name that is referenced as data arrives in FlowWorks. When data arrives with a name that doesn't match any of the internal Site names, the data is not accepted.

Once a packet of incoming data is matched up to an expected internal Site name, we can drop that name and from that point on, you will see the data tagged with the display Site name from within the FlowWorks application.

In order to set up a Site with FlowWorks, a Site Setup Form needs to be completed, in which you will specify the internal Site name - the name that allows your data into FlowWorks. If this name does not match the name coming from the logger, the data will not be accepted. If you would like to include a display Site name, please specify this in the Site Setup Form, or contact us to create a display name for Sites that are already configured.

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