Technical director of wastewater system manufacturer WPL, Mr. Andrew Baird, says that water companies could get more from their suppliers by collaborating more closely with them. If water companies and other utility clients showed specific site data ahead of a project’s design, as well as operational information post-completion, manufacturers could ensure the best system is installed and operating optimally. However, according to Mr. Baird, many water companies are not aware of these huge benefits and refuse to share data.
Mr. Baird says that because of lack of actual data (such as final effluent quality and power consumption), manufacturers base water treatment plant design on theoretical criteria that is usually generic and can be 20 years old. According to him, even minor alterations would ensure significant savings, particularly around sizing and power consumption. The information could also drive innovation in terms of research and development and enable further refinements to the technology offered to customers.
WPL’s biggest data-led research project is at Petersfield wastewater treatment works’ environmental technology field station and is being carried out in conjunction with Portsmouth University. The researcher is exploring how much power could be conserved at night when flows are low. Could smaller blowers be used?? Information like this has real value – if a blower half the size could be fitted, significant savings could be made, savings that water companies are potentially missing out on by not sharing their own power consumption data.
A recent project with Welsh Water opened up new opportunities for collaboration when the onsite operations team provided practical feedback on WPL’s conical settlement tank. WPL subsequently redesigned the outflow weir resulting in an installation that is easier to clean and maintain.
Mr Baird concludes: “WPL is still getting valuable performance data from the site, which is allowing the team to look objectively at the next steps.? This really proves the value of openness and collaboration.? I would encourage all utilities to consider working with their supply chain in this way. Ultimately, feedback and data helps companies improve their products, which supports clients in delivering long-term goals – enabling the whole sector to move forward.”