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Tapping into the Cloud to Manage FOG

Keith Hodsden
Aug 10, 2022 1:05:40 PM

Wastewater utilities continually struggle to control Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) within their sewage collection systems. If not properly managed, FOG can cause sewage spills, manhole overflows, and sewage backups in homes, businesses, and local waterways, potentially causing a loss of business and severe public health impacts. Food Service Establishments (FSEs) spend tens of thousands of dollars on plumbing emergencies each year to deal with grease blockages and pump out grease traps and interceptors. Some cities also charge businesses for the repair of sewer pipes and spill cleanup if they can attribute the blockage to a particular business.

Grease interceptors or grease traps are typically installed at FSEs to limit the release of FOG into the sewer system. Interceptors and traps require regular cleaning and maintenance, and FOG must be disposed of properly and in compliance with environmental regulations. Utilities need to have comprehensive FOG Management Programs in place to document regular inspections, pump-out and disposal of grease, and communication with property owners. However, many agencies attempt to administer their FOG programs using manual, paper-based processes or custom spreadsheets that can be difficult to use and result in significant inefficiencies.


Components of a Successful FOG Program

Data collection – Make sure the data that’s being collected is accurate and complete.

Triggers – If an inspection fails, what needs to happen next? Setting triggers will ensure the next steps are taken.

Scheduling – Scheduling follow-up actions will ensure all tasks are completed on time.

Reporting – By standardizing the data that is collected, access to data becomes much more streamlined. Automated reports can be generated both internally to stakeholders and externally to customers. Ad hoc reporting becomes easy to access as well.

Communications – With easy access to information, communication will improve. Provide more detailed information and photos to your customers to help them resolve issues.


KPI to Get You Started

Here are some important metrics best-in-class utilities are reporting on to manage their FOG programs.

  • Pass/fail rate
  • Total coverage = FSEs inspected / Total FSEs
  • % of goal = FSEs inspected / Goal
  • Inspection efficiency = Inspections / FTE
  • % resolved offenders = % fails last period against total inspections vs. # of fails this period against total inspections
  • Offenders at-a-glance (geospatial view)

FOG map

Maps and Routes functionality in Utility Cloud enables utilities to create routes grouping nearby work orders creating efficiencies.


FOG work order

Complete open work orders within the platform – no need for transcribing data later. If non-compliant, the system triggers non-compliant work orders and schedules the work based on deadlines to ensure it is done on time.


Does this sound like your operation?

  1. Still using paper or Excel-based processes.
  2. Making a simple change to a workflow can be cumbersome and may have to involve IT.
  3. Data validation can be a real challenge.
    1. Operators bring paper forms back into the office and manually enter data into a database.
    2. Querying data is difficult because there are typos, inconsistencies, and/or omissions due to manual processes.
    3. The “Notes” field becomes a catch-all making it difficult to sort or find information.
    4. Incomplete fields lead to delayed or incomplete work – what happens if resolved/unresolved/deadline fields aren’t completed?
    5. Manual counting of inspections and non-compliance reports can generate inaccurate reporting.

Using Utility Cloud, utilities can leverage advanced, cloud-based software technology to manage their FOG program, track inspection of FOG devices, and improve communication between the utility and FSEs throughout their service area.


Watch our Free Skills Series: Managing a Best-in-Class FOG and Pretreatment Program 


Additional Resources 

The City of Excelsior, Minnesota has provided some great information on managing FOG in Sewers including a step-by-step guide for managing compliance and Preventing FOG from entering the Plumbing in Food Service Establishments 

Here are a couple of additional resources we found from North Carolina Environmental Quality including a fact sheet for capturing restaurant oil, a fact sheet for management best practices for fats, oil, and grease, and a food service assessment checklist for fats, oil, and grease management.

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