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Klir vs. WaterTrax: Picking a Water Sampling Tool That Sees the Bigger Picture

Municipalities and utilities have turned to electronic reporting tools (ERTs) to streamline, consolidate and automate their water and wastewater data processes for decades.

These tools cut down on lost or duplicate data, provide users with automated alerts, and generally make sampling a much less painful and time-consuming process.

At the same time, water managers know that sampling is just one part of the equation. 

No part of a successful water management operation can function in isolation from another—but that’s also precisely what happens when utilities need a different application to manage each aspect of the water process, whether it be Industrial Pretreatment (IPT), Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG), project management, billing, or permitting.

Adopting a truly unified approach to water management might be the only way that municipalities and utilities can protect themselves from another problem: too many tools.

To illustrate how, we’re going to compare two different water sampling solutions today:

Klir

An all-in-one cloud-based operating system for water & wastewater utilities—and more specifically Klir’s sampling module, which focuses on delivering fast and up to date sampling and water quality results to decision makers at water and wastewater utilities.

WaterTrax

An electronic reporting tool provided by Aquatic Informatics.

Klir OS and the Klir Sampling Module: A Quick Intro

Until recently, the information that operators and managers at water utilities needed to do their jobs was fragmented, dispersed across numerous systems, incomplete, or otherwise difficult to access. 

Launched in 2018, Klir is the first system to bring these disparate functions together into one complete, all-in-one operating system (OS) for water & wastewater utilities. 

Instead of relying on a mishmash of different systems and software, Klir brings the entire team onto one platform and pulls in data from lab reports, LIMS, SCADA & GIS to create a single source of truth for sampling activities utility-wide. This allows operators to 

  • See trends across the entire water system—from sampling, to permitting, inspections & more—and make decisions with clarity and confidence.
  • Automate manual tasks and data analysis that were once tracked in Excel or Outlook, from scheduling sampling runs, to interpreting sampling results, to generating regulatory reports, eliminating 1+ days of admin work each week.
  • Have peace of mind knowing that Klir’s automatic alerts for MCLs, operational limits, and numerous other types of limits will trigger in case anything ever goes wrong, and feel confident that every sample has been completed on time. 

WaterTrax: A Brief Overview

WaterTrax was first launched in 2002 with the goal of helping utilities and municipalities detect adverse water quality events earlier and faster, offering quick access to current and historical data, automatic alerts, and a consolidated repository for lab data, all in a web-based system that didn’t require and special hardware or software to run.

Today WaterTrax’s focus is water and wastewater management, and the typical user will use the tool to do three things: set up a sampling schedule, set up their water infrastructure, and begin consuming data from labs and field samples. 

In 2017, WaterTrax was acquired by Vancouver’s Aquatic Informatics company, where it exists alongside a family of applications purpose-built for different aspects of the water management process, including:

  1. Aquarius Samples, an environmental lab and field sample data production tool.
  2. Linko, an Industrial Pretreatment and FOG solution.
  3. Tokay, a backflow prevention and cross-connection control tool.

One Platform vs. a Family of Separate Apps

While WaterTrax and the Klir sampling module might have a lot of overlap, the biggest difference between the two is Klir’s unified platform approach to water, as opposed to Aquatic Informatics’ à la carte approach. 

While Klir users can move seamlessly from managing water and wastewater processes to industrial pretreatment (IPT), FOG, backflow, inspections and more, WaterTrax users are forced to switch to a different Aquatic Informatics application every time.

That presents problems for water managers interested in building a truly unified approach to water management. Switching between tools this way forces users to:

Build siloed, fragmented work environments

Working across different tools in this way opens your organization up to data loss or duplication risk, erects walls between processes and departments, and leaves your organization at risk any time any of your employees retires, goes on vacation or leaves their desk.

Spend more time on implementation

Onboarding, configuring and signing licensing agreements for two or three separate applications can be cumbersome, time-consuming and add unnecessary complexity to the implementation process. If anything ever goes wrong, dealing with separate support channels can make things even worse.

Work without a single source of truth

As your organization grows and its data needs increase, your ability to create and work from a single point of truth will become increasingly important—and also increasingly difficult in a fragmented system like Aquatic Informatics’.

While systems like these might have initially helped you streamline processes and eliminate silos, in the long run they end up doing precisely the opposite.

The Platform Advantage in Action

Let’s look at a typical industrial wastewater pretreatment operation and the four most common workflows they might be expected to manage:

  1. Customer management
  2. Permit management
  3. Sampling management 
  4. Billing and fines management

In the Aquatic Informatics world, there’s simply no way to run all of these out of one system. Users are forced to operate at least two different sampling programs in parallel:

  • One in Linko, which they’ll use to manage customers, IPT and hauled waste sampling
  • And another inside WaterTrax to manage sampling

Klir eliminates the need to do this by allowing industrial wastewater pretreatment operations to manage all four processes out of one application.

Reasons To Choose Klir Over WaterTrax

In addition to the benefits of Klir’s platform approach, there are also specific areas where the Klir sampling module pulls ahead of WaterTrax, including:

1. Powerful Monitoring Plans and Sample Scheduling

Although WaterTrax might have similar features, Klir’s focus on monitoring plans, sample scheduling, and making those functions available across working groups (whether it be compliance, water quality, operations, or treatment facilities)  make it the more powerful sampling tool.

Klir is designed with an intuitive user interface so that anyone in your organization can set up their own monitoring plan, select what they want to monitor against, and provision their plan with a set of recurring tasks.

2. Better Lab Data Processing

Klir currently provides users with numerous ways of entering data into the system, including:

  • Manual frontend data entry
  • Frontend data import through the import tool
  • SCADA import
  • SFTP file transfers
  • Sample results APIs (future)

Klir is also developing a sampling API that will expand even further on users’ ability to get data into the Klir system easily.

At the moment, WaterTrax accepts manual imports from laboratories, which requires more manual effort and creates the potential for delays or human error in the process.

3. Powerful Customization and Automation Functions

While WaterTrax might also have alerts and notifications triggered by sampling processes, Klir allows operators to create custom rules and automations for almost any process in their water data management system, making it the more powerful automation tool.

4. It’s Built for Maximum Accessibility

Unlike most legacy water systems, Klir focuses on providing a user-friendly, intuitive and accessible experience that is designed to be used by anyone within the utility, regardless of experience. Klir makes your systems more transparent, not less, making it the clear choice for readability and ease of use out of the box.

5. One Product, One Vision

Aquatic Informatics and Klir represent two different approaches to building a unified water management solution: building one from the ground up vs. trying to create one out of a collection of disparate apps.

Klir’s commitment to one unified platform means it avoids the pitfalls commonly associated with legacy software suites—including duplicate data, overlapping processes, multiple licenses, uneven product development, and lack of cross-app integration—while ensuring that your team can be trained and brought onto a single, unified system.

6. Collaboration and Task Management Tools

WaterTrax and other legacy systems often don’t include internal collaboration or communications tools, forcing teams to come up with their own off-platform solutions (usually email).

Klir on the other hand allows teams to manage all of their tasks in-app, offering an internal chat and reply functionality, user tagging, and commenting, turning the platform into a single channel for collaboration and project management across the organization.

Klir vs. WaterTrax: Feature-by-Feature

Features

Klir

WaterTrax

Monitoring Plans

Sample Analytics and Trending

Mobile Field Result Capture

Violations Management

Business Intelligence - Analytics Layer & Canned Reports

GIS Tagging

LIMS & SCADA Import

Calendar & Scheduling

Task Driven Operations

Automated Repeat Sampling Events

Rules Engine for Automation

Alerts & Notifications

Live Data Entry Validation

(Coming 2022)

Field Sample Management

Responsive Design

Compliance Reporting

Biosolids Management (Manifest, Grading and limit evaluation)

Treatment Plant Management

Water Management Dashboard

Permit Generation & Management

Inspections Management (Scheduling, Data Collection, Reports)

Inspection Billing

(Coming 2022)

Customer Management

Custom Forms

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