Looking beyond completion: designing wastewater treatment systems for effective asset management

Hydroflux RoadTRAIN HySMART SBR wastewater management system

As the boom in Australia’s infrastructure projects progresses there seems to be a competition between the states in Australia to build the longest tunnel, use the most local content, minimise energy usage and complete projects early and under budget. Spare a thought for those who must manage these assets when the dust settles and the backslapping stops.

The Hydroflux Group comprises several companies providing design and build projects, equipment, processes and operational services to a variety of infrastructure projects requiring water and wastewater treatment.

Our engineers and operators have been exposed all different types of wastewater treatment assets, both private industrial and municipal, and all with differing complexities of operation and equipment condition monitoring systems.

One of the great challenges when offering advanced equipment and processes for any project, whether for major infrastructure or small private industrial clients, is the balance between the capital cost of the new project and the future cost to operate the plant.

Most people acknowledge that spending more now will save costs in the long run, but when faced with a budget they must choose where to spend.

Equipment and processes that provide savings on power and energy, save water, allow water reuse, or use less consumables all add value that can be quantified in some way to justify spending a little more.

It is much harder to show a return on investment for a design that caters for the needs of operators in effective asset management.

In preparation for our regular presentation at the Wastewater Systems Design and Management Workshop, hosted by the Australian Sustainable Business Group, Hydroflux have canvassed engineering and operational staff and our clients for the greatest challenges in the operation and maintenance of treatment plants.

Two surprising aspects of the design came up as critical:

  • Keep it simple
  • Make it intuitive

This is not necessarily what you think, and it does not mean that the plant should not be complex. The design should simply hide these complexities for day to day operation so that an operator can see what they need to see quickly and make fast and effective decisions.

Imagine getting into the cockpit of a plane and having all those instruments, switches and dials at your fingertips, but only really needing the throttle and stick when you are in the air.

Some wastewater treatment assets are like this, and the intention is to allow a variety of conditions to be monitored and recorded, and to provide a full range of adjustable settings. But most treatment plants, once they have been optimised, will only have one or two settings that need to be tweaked on a regular basis – if any.

The RoadTRAIN is a prefabricated on-site sewage treatment system specifically designed for use in remote locations. It is the perfect example of a complex system that has been made to operate simply. By minimising the reliance upon instruments and drives the RoadTRAIN is easy for operators to monitor for performance and maintenance requirements.

Much of this simplicity can be achieved by making the system smart and intuitive. Perhaps the best example of an intuitive system is the HySMART™ SBR.

Rather than rely on an operator to identify that the aeration system is running too long, wasting energy and placing unnecessary wear on equipment, the HySMART™ SBR will intuitively adjust its cycle times for optimum performance.

These are only two examples of a variety of wastewater treatment and sludge management processes that can be designed for effective asset management.

View more information on the RoadTRAIN here.

View more information on HySMART™ SBR here.

Follow us on LinkedIn to see posts regarding the next Wastewater Systems Design and Management Workshop.

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