ITA Five-Step Testing Process
ITA has been successful for more than 27 years in conducting cooperative testing of online instruments used in the water and wastewater industry.  ITAs performance evaluation reports are intended to provide evaluation information through a review of technical practices and detailed procedures that research and experience have shown to be functional and practical.

ITAs test results can be used for different treatment plants.  There is the common (mis)conception that everyone needs to test in their facility because their plant is different.  In the ITA tests, we attempt to force variable conditions (lower DO, changing blanket level, etc....) to make the tests more applicable to varied conditions.  We also publish the chemical and physical conditions during the test for this comparative assessment. 

Instrumentation testing by ITA is entirely independent of the influences of manufacturers during the test and ITA does not draw conclusions on performance based upon the results of the test.  However, ITA serves to involve manufacturers and users in the development of test protocols.  This approach sets ITA apart from other testing organizations who do not allow manufacturer input.  We at ITA believe this approach provides a better testing regime where those who own significant general and specific knowledge can help design the best possible test protocol.

ITAs cooperative testing process provides unbiased evaluations and provides a unique organization in the openness of protocol development.  All participating manufacturers assist with the development of the test protocol and procedures along with the ITA committee members from various member utilities.  In addition, all manufacturers get to review and provide published comments to their respective test results and the manufacturers comments are included in the final report.  Readers can judge the test outcome by these comments and ITAs unbiased reporting. 

ITA draws from its members expertise and organizations past experiences in testing by using its five-step testing process.  The following provides a description of ITAs testing process.

1. Volunteer Test Site and Equipment Procurement

2. Test Protocol Development and Test Site Visit 

3. Instrument Installation and Test Start-up

4. Test Performance and Data Collection

5. Data Analysis and Report Development

Step 1 - Volunteer Test Site and Equipment Procurement

Volunteer Test Site and Equipment Procurement

The first step of ITAs testing process involves identifying a treatment facility to sponsor the test and volunteer staff time and resources for oversight of test instrument maintenance and data collection.  In addition, ITA invites instrument manufacturers to make commitments for donating their equipment for the test period and make financial contributions to assist in covering expenses of performing a test.  At this time, ITA also requests manufacturer documentation regarding installation procedures and special requirements (such as sample flows, pressure, electrolyte and required hook-ups for air, water or other utilities).  In addition, ITA collects manufacturer documentation regarding analyzer installation, calibration, operations and maintenance manuals.  Test site personnel use the manufacturer documentation to calibrate, sample, operate, and maintain each test instrument. Test instruments are installed at the test site by the manufacturers.

Step 2 - Test Protocol Development and Test Site Visit

Test Protocol Development and Test Site Visit

The second step of the testing process consists of developing a test protocol and  procedures that will be used as a guideline for testing.  Test protocol will identify the best method to be used as a conformance or reference standard for making direct comparisons to evaluate the performance of test instruments.  All test manufacturers participate in the development of the test protocol along with ITAs test committee members, test site personnel and other member experts involved in ITAs testing program.  All ITA test participants provide review and comment to the test protocol and reach a consensus of test procedures before the protocol and procedures are finalized.  

After the test protocol and procedures are finalized, manufacturers, ITA committee members and other ITA members involved in ITAs test program attend a meeting at the test site treatment plant.  The test site visit meeting allows the manufacturers to view the test site location and gather information regarding installation requirements and provides an opportunity for test site plant personnel to meet ITA members and learn about the installation, maintenance and calibration requirements of manufacturers instruments. 

Step 3 - Instrument Installation and Test Start-up

Instrument Installation and Test Start-Up

The third step involves instruments being shipped to the test site at least three to four weeks prior to test start-up to provide the test site personnel with time to become acquainted with instrument maintenance requirements and conformance testing procedures.  Instrument manufacturers provide the installation in accordance with the test protocol and procedures.  After instrument installations are complete, manufacturers review and approve installations.  Prior to test start-up, manufacturers are permitted to make a final adjustment to their respective instrument to verify proper operation.  After the test start-up, instrument manufacturers and their representatives are not permitted to visit the test site for the entire test period, unless their test instrument goes out-of-conformance and requires factory service.

Step 4 - Test Performance and Data Collection

Test Performance and Data Collection

The fourth step involves conducting the test and collecting instrument data.  During the testing period, test-site plant personnel are responsible for performing routine calibration, operation, maintenance and quality assurance/quality control.  Plant personnel conduct conformance measurements and perform instrument maintenance in accordance with test protocol and procedures.  In addition, plant personnel observe and document their long-term experience of using the test instruments to evaluate subjective design factors, such as user-friendly operating menus for the electronics modules, display screen clarity, special skills or tools required to conduct calibration, and the clarity and organization of instrument operations and maintenance manuals.

Step 5 - Data Analysis and Report Development

Data Analysis and Report Development

The fifth step involves conducting data analysis and development of a test report.  Analysis of raw data includes statistical analysis and translation into graphical format for visual presentation of instrument performance.  During the development of the final report, manufacturers receive only their respective raw test data and graphical analysis in a draft report format.  Manufacturers verify test data and provide a letter regarding the test process and the performance of their instrument.  Manufacturer letters are incorporated into each respective manufacturer test instrument chapter and are included in the final report.    



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