Providing Value-Added Service

Well performance monitoring can separate you from the competition.

By Kurt Bayburt

For those of us in the sales world—and anyone reading this is in sales in some form whether it be to external customers or to our own internal customers such as managers or directors—competition is fierce.

It is becoming increasingly important to not only show the benefits of one’s own products over a competitor, but also show that the customer is receiving value-added service, particularly in the form of overall reduction in operating cost (or TCO, total cost of operation).

One such example of a value-added service in the groundwater well operations/maintenance area is performance testing and creation of a monitoring program, referenced to tangible key performance indicators (KPIs).

The reliability of wells and subsequent pumps plays a major role in the operation of a customer’s business, and the lack of water from inoperable pumps, well casing, or aquifer issues can have varying degrees of urgency.

For example, a power generation facility that uses cooling towers to condense steam from a steam turbine will, upon reduction of groundwater availability, see an almost immediate effect to the generation process that would require reduction of power output. This can potentially result in millions of dollars of lost revenue, depending on many factors.

Conversely, reduced water availability for agricultural use would not have such an acute effect, although the long-term financial implication could be similar. With these considerations, a TCO savings by having a performance monitoring program implemented can easily be calculated and presented to a customer.

Figure 1. Design pump curve data with test points overlaid with curves are tangible key performance indicators.
Table 1. Tabulated well and pump performance data, including well location and as-built information.

Developing Performance Indicators

The first part of the program development is establishing KPIs with the customer. These KPIs can then be further broken down into those relating to the pump and the well proper.

These are relatively straightforward as they relate to the pump (see Figure 1). Referencing the pump curve datasheet (hopefully the customer has this on file), the total dynamic head, motor shaft horsepower, pump efficiency, and pumping cost ($/1000 gallons water pumped) would be four possible primary KPIs. The calculations for these parameters can be found in any number of engineering-style pump handbooks.

As they relate to the well itself, these can vary based on the perceived importance from the customer. Examples include drawdown (the difference between the static water level and the running water level) or change in drawdown, specific capacity (flowrate divided by the drawdown) or change in such, and depth setting of the pump relative to the running water level.

To make data communication as efficient as possible, a central file/spreadsheet should be created that contains all the original specifications of the wells and associated pumps, as well as maintenance records and dates.

The file should include all the before-mentioned KPIs with their readings tracked over time. The goal with this is to have data in a trended manner to see changes at least annually. (Depending on the geographic location, it may be beneficial to gather data seasonally to visualize year-over-year changes.) See Table 1 for an example.

With customers who have multiple wells, this type of tabulated data can be very useful at visualizing operating differences among the wellfield. For example, the specific capacities of the well can be quickly compared, and alongside a satellite/aerial map of the property, basic assumptions can potentially be made about the aquifer characteristics in those areas. (For instance, there may be higher specific capacity in an area that is closer to a ravine, creek bed, or other type of aquifer recharge areas.)

This information can be made even more valuable when used in conjunction with state water resource board/state geological survey data (if available) showing further detail of subsurface geology and/or aquifers.

Depending on the ultimate use of the water, its chemistry may be of importance to the customer as well.

Components such as calcium, magnesium, and silica play a role if the water is to be used for industrial/process heat exchangers. For agricultural use, alkalinity and dissolved metals can be areas of concern.

Connecting with a local/regional water treatment provider can allow use of their analytical laboratory for detailed water elemental analyses in accordance with the customer’s particular areas of concern.

This may even result in a symbiotic relationship with the water treatment provider. If water purification equipment is needed to achieve the customer’s goals, the treatment sales rep can benefit from new business. In turn, he or she may have customer leads who are in need of a quality well service provider.

Ranking the Needs

In continuance of the case of a customer with multiple wells, it may be beneficial to rank the operating order of the wells based on one or more previously discussed metric. Again, the direction of this process needs to come because of discussion with the customer. (“Is water chemistry important to you? Would you say it’s important enough to turn off Well X if the alkalinity increased above Y parts per million?)

If there are multiple metrics of importance (say, operating cost in $/1000 gallons pumped water and water alkalinity), it then becomes necessary to weigh them. (Is it a 50/50 split of importance? Perhaps 70/30?) Finally, compiling this as a weighted rank-order gives the customer direction to achieving their business goals in the most effective manner possible.

In the current era of high-market competition and influencing factors easily available at one’s fingertips from a quick online search on a cellphone, it becomes necessary to provide value-added service to customers and communicate it in terms of what is most important to them.

Operating in this manner shows the customer their business is being viewed as a long-term partnership, and that the well drilling process is just the first step in achieving this. This sets up the groundwater contractor as the go-to problem solver in future water resource needs as well as for ideas to reduce total cost of operation.

That is true customer service.


Kurt Bayburt is the chemistry manager for Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO). He has more than 15 years of water treatment management and process performance optimization experience in various heavy industrial markets. Part of his current responsibilities includes managing the operation of AEPCO’s groundwater production wellfield. He can be reached at kbayburt@azgt.coop.