Water, Wastewater Industry Must Change With the Times

As with many things in our lives, we often settle into a particular routine. Whether it?s the road we follow to work, our morning routine, or the way in which we do business, it is often associated with the thinking ?that?s the way it?s always been done.? Times are changing and the water and wastewater industry is no different.

As with many things in our lives, we often settle into a particular routine. Whether it?s the road we follow to work, our morning routine, or the way in which we do business, it is often associated with the thinking ?that?s the way it?s always been done.? Times are changing and the water and wastewater industry is no different.

Look at the water and wastewater industry and think back to 10, 15 or even 20 years ago. Many companies have come and gone in just a few short years. The manner in which projects are awarded has changed and so has the way an equipment supplier fits into the grand scheme of a project.

For many years in the United States, equipment suppliers rarely got involved directly with the specific municipality’s or industry’s wastewater treatment plant planning and design. Today the equipment supplier is getting more and more directly involved in these areas.

Traditionally we have been used to the consulting engineer working closely with the customer to design the facility and determine the actual procurement methods. Recent changes have shown that there is some interest in involving both contractors and equipment suppliers in this process.

However, if we look across the Atlantic to the UK, we see a very different strategy in procurement methods.

One of the new strategies is the principal of allowing the customer and equipment supplier to work together on an open book basis to produce a design that offers the lowest net present value for the project. At the same time, the concept of bidding a plant’s installation needs is no longer assumed to be the standard procedure.

The era of bulk purchasing has a new meaning in the UK. Equipment has been purchased in bulk form in a number of industries in the past.

Many of us may think of purchasing standard, catalog type products in this manner, such as valves, pipes or even fire hydrants, but not systems or processes that may be used at a wastewater treatment plant.

When a standard part is needed, it could simply be pulled from the shelf and installed. But in the UK, they’ve taken the next step forward into equipment that would typically be thought of as built to order or design and install.

In 1995, Cegelec Projects Ltd. and Water Pollution Control Corp. entered into a partnership agreement for the supply of all fine bubble aeration systems for plants serviced by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water in the UK. Target prices were worked into a contract that would allow the purchase of total aeration systems for various plants.

To date, more than 10 plants have been equipped with such aeration systems purchased in this manner. With proven success of this program over the past 3 years, the expansion into purchasing an entire plant’s process needs has evolved.

It’s evolved from bulk purchasing of pumps, blowers or even aeration systems to sequencing batch reactor (SBR) systems. The entire process needs of a plant have gone from the normal process of numerous vendors bidding a job, to working with the preferred vendor that will supply the entire plants equipment.

Back in the United States, times continue to change in the water and wastewater industry. As companies come and go, new government regulations are set in place. The market in the U.S. is also showing signs of some change in procurement options.

Will municipalities and industries work exclusively with preferred suppliers and disregard the bidding process we’ve been accustomed to for so long? You may say “absolutely not,” or “it’s possible,” but then again, anything is possible and only time will tell.

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