Recently I was lucky enough to become a father for the third time. Despite my wife and I having gone through this twice before, our new bundle still managed to rather disrupt the entire household. Over the last few weeks, I have re-discovered that in order to keep our baby fed, safe, clean and happy, not to mention her siblings requiring the same, something has had to give. As most new parents find, the casualties are sleep, our social life and various non-essential household chores.

In a way this reminded me of how we used to operate when I worked client-side with a major food manufacturer. The vast majority of my colleagues were focused on nurturing their ‘baby’ – their aspect of the production process; they were experts in this and understood the minutia of the mechanisms and processes involved. However, due to the need to focus on production, they simply did not have time in their day to also be experts in processes that did not fall directly under their remit – such as the treatment of wastewater. As a result, the potential for achieving good water stewardship and its associated cost savings was not fully realised.

Let us take the strain

This is where I see the role of our new Industrial Wastewater team fitting in. Whilst my household is not going to grind to a halt if the chores are set aside for a while, a manufacturing company does not have the luxury of turning a blind eye to its wastewater, especially given the increasing legislative and social pressures hastened by events such as the drought in the Western Cape.

Our team can alleviate these pressures by working as an extension of the client’s production team, picking up the water-related opportunities and identifying where improvements could and should be made. By using our team, the client benefits from our expertise without having to dramatically change their own organisational structure or recruit new experts to an increasingly demanding and complex role.

As water experts we live and breathe the industry, monitoring every change with a firm idea of the direction clients should be moving in to meet future legislative obligations and best practice efficiencies. We can transfer this knowledge directly to clients by working with their operations and maintenance teams to ensure water use and reuse is managed efficiently.

Ongoing support

It’s not just the plant design and installation that we can handle, we have developed a range of services. Our WaterScan is an in-depth audit of all water-related processes, which leads to opportunity analysis and recommendations for suitable plant improvements and technologies. We can then provide ongoing monitoring and optimisation of these processes to maximise the efficiency of the client’s existing water infrastructure. We can also support the team operating the sites’ wastewater treatment plant, by visiting regularly (usually bi-weekly) to sit alongside the operator and provide an expert advice about what the data means and how best to respond to it. Coupled with our BioWatch service, where the organisms within the biological treatment process are viewed and conditions optimised, the robustness and compliance of the wastewater treatment is improved.

Track record

Along with the team of industrial wastewater specialists I am part of here in South Africa, clients can also benefit from the worldwide experience of Royal HaskoningDHV. We have experience with some of the world’s largest manufacturers supporting them in a huge range of projects; from complete new plant installations to relatively minor adjustments which can make a significant difference to efficiency and cost savings. As an example, in our work with Heineken in the UK we were involved from evaluation of the existing plant, through the installation of a new Anti-Bulking Reactor®, to ongoing support and the remote monitoring and adjustment of the process to improve efficiency.

So, to get back to the analogy of production focus as a new baby – there are ways we can make life easier. In order to get our domestic routine back under control whilst our baby demands almost undivided attention, my wife and I might have to call in the experts – in our case, my mother-in-law. Clients might be advised to do the same (call in experts that is, not my mother-in-law) so that they can be free to focus on their production processes as I know how dear to their hearts they hold these particular babies!