As a systems engineer at Xylem, Jaime Mills helps solve complex pump application problems. He is located in Nottingham, UK, where he is a leader in promoting digital ways of working in the water industry. Learn how he helps customers do more with less resources, and how he helped implement 3D drawing at Xylem.
What is a typical day at work like?
Day to day I deal with complex pump application problems, for example: energy analysis, long undulating mains, varying static head conditions or multiple pump operation. It’s my job to ensure the pumps are fit for purpose and deliver the required flow rate. I enjoy the complex analysis that is required to solve these problems. I will regularly find myself in a world of my own. Just me and the problem – drawing to a conclusion and grabbing a brew afterwards is very rewarding.
In addition to this, I also do a lot with digital engineering including build off-site, design for manufacture, and building information modelling (BIM). I currently chair the BIM4Water standard libraries group, which supports the UK water industry on our journey to digital ways of working. These activities keep me very busy, but this is rewarded when playing with smart technology such as LASER Scanners, 3D printers and virtual reality. Never a better time to be a mechanical engineer!
What kinds of challenges are your customers facing?
More for less! It seems that engineers across all disciplines are being asked to deliver more efficient, low-cost solutions in less time and with less resources. We can certainly see this on the public utilities side where increases in population put more demand on treatment plants and network pumping stations. We have to squeeze larger machines in smaller sumps without compromising the hydraulic performance.
Solving this is really a team effort, and I call upon our wealth of experience and knowledge across Xylem. I constantly look up to my peers to gather their knowledge on similar cases: what worked last time, how we met our customer’s requirements, and what we did in previous years within the UK and globally.
What are some of the biggest challenges in your industry?
Data and interoperability. More and more of our customers require information from us as a manufacturer. Getting this information out of the databases that it resides in, and doing this in an efficient manner, is a challenge for all manufacturers. There appears to be little structured guidance on standard information exchange, including robust file formats and transfer methods. This is a challenge for us and the wider UK water industry: to understand what information is required and how to effectively transfer it.
Solving this is a real learning journey. Through my work with BIM4Water, I have engaged all of the 12 UK water and sewerage companies to collaborate and agree on a procedure for defining and reviewing water industry product data templates. This process is now live, and we are beginning to create standards for digital file transfer across the industry. Additionally, I’m also working very closely with Xylem divisions and third parties to find smart ways to exchange product information, be that graphical 3D CAD or non-graphical technical product information.
What has been your favorite project at Xylem?
Without a doubt, implementation of 3D drawing software – Creo Parametric and our UK product life cycle management (PLM) system: Xylem Global Vault. This has been a real journey for the UK sales company and crossed all of our verticals in some form. The enthusiasm and collaboration from our drawing teams in the different legs of the business has really made this happen. To make this transformation from our existing 2D software and with no established PLM system, I enlisted dedicated support from all Xylem divisions, local IT support and HQ support from engineering systems. The results speak for themselves, and after a year implementing and planning we are now creating 3D drawings.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Scientists investigate what already is; engineers create what has never been.”
– Albert Einstein