Winston-Salem, North Carolina is located in Forsyth County with a population of over 370,000. The local sanitary sewer utility, the City/ County Utilities Commission (CCUC) of the City of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County has been a Linko client since 2001 using LinkoFOG to manage their FOG Program. They chose to implement Linko’s POM Portal to track FSE compliance with trap maintenance requirements.
The FOG Program at Winston-Salem involves the manual tracking of over 1000 facilities. These facilities or their haulers submit a monthly grease interceptor maintenance report to the CCUC documenting trap cleaning and maintenance. Upon receipt of the cleaning report, it is Ms. Tilley’s responsibility to enter the cleaning data from the report into LinkoFOG software. The amount of paper that a program of this size generated presents a number of challenges for tracking FOG compliance. They were receiving 500-750 hard copies of interceptor maintenance reports each month. The manual data entry and maintenance of this volume of paperwork was labor and time intensive, not to mention the space required to store these paper copies. LinkoFOG was used to track required interceptor cleaning and identify non-compliance. However, getting the data into LinkoFOG was often a bottleneck.
Winston-Salem wanted to make a change to modernize their compliance tracking program and implement a paperless system for managing trap cleaning reports. They wanted to free up resources from the time consuming processes of handling the paper, performing data entry, and delivering reminders. They wanted a system where data would be more readily available to track grease trap compliance in real time.
Winston-Salem wanted a software solution which allowed FSEs or their haulers to enter their cleanout reports directly, eliminating the need for the FSEs and hauler to submit paper reports. Working with Linko, Winston-Salem provided suggestions which helped Linko develop POM Portal for the electronic reporting of grease trap cleaning reports.
POM Portal provides a solution for gathering electronic pumpout manifests from the FSEs and/or haulers directly, eliminating manual data entry of manifests by FOG Program staff. “We needed the POM Portal tool because we were spending an enormous amount of time on paper handling and data entry,” explains Ms. Hayes. Linko POM Portal offered Winston-Salem an opportunity to reduce the number of hard copy manifest reports, free up staff resources and proactively manage their FOG Program.
“In an environment where we are constantly being charged with doing more with less, automating simple tasks through the use of technology becomes a requirement rather than an option. Our people are too valuable to be locked up in an office doing tasks that can be accomplished with software.”
Winston-Salem has seen a significant decrease in the submission of paper grease trap cleaning reports. Ms. Tilley has seen a huge benefit in “not having to deal with paper work manually.” She describes that “previously, the data could pile up and it wasn’t available and up to date.” To keep up with the demand, Ms. Tilley and an additional staff member were constantly engaged in data entry and paper management. Now, the need for a second person has been eliminated.
The haulers and facilities have embraced the web-based software quickly. Within the first 8 months of usage, 85% of FSEs are submitting their reports either by the hauler or facilities themselves directly through the POM Portal. One hauler, Piedmont Disposal, reported that they are using the POM Portal for all of their FSE customers reporting to the CCUC. They find it has been much easier than having to send paper work to the city and are no longer required to print the paperwork previously required by Winston-Salem thereby reducing their paperwork burden.
The CCUC’s Construction and Maintenance group reports that the FOG program has significantly reduced the number of overflow events due to grease from FSEs. Additionally, the program has almost eliminated the need for routine sewer cleaning in areas with heavy restaurant development. Although significant issues remain regarding grease in residential areas, the automated nature of the LinkoFOG with the POM Portal program has helped keep up with non-compliant FSEs that might be contributing grease to the collection system. Ms. Tilley describes that “with POM Portal, we are able to focus on the FSEs who have missed a cleaning event rather than waiting on getting data entered, or having to track down reports that may have gone missing via fax or other means.”
By using the POM Portal software, the bottleneck of receiving paper work, data entry and the opportunities for transcription errors are eliminated. This increases the speed with which programs can detect non-compliance and also frees up staff to focus on outreach activities. As explained by Ms. Hayes, “In an environment where we are constantly being charged with doing more with less, automating simple tasks through the use of technology becomes a requirement rather than an option. Our people are too valuable to be locked up in an office doing tasks that can be accomplished with software.”