TO avoid problems and ensure smooth, uninterrupted operation, some of South Africa’s largest manufacturing and industrial-sector companies have turned to water services company, Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies South Africa (Veolia,) to wholly manage the day-to-day operation and maintenance of their on-site water treatment plants.
During the last year, the company has secured operations and maintenance contracts from salty snack and cereal manufacturers, industrial and municipal plants, and large-scale water re-use plants.
According to Veolia’s MD, Gunter Rencken, the trend can be attributed to companies’ needs to cut costs and reduce the risk of downtime, while ensuring compliance with water purification standards at the same time, “Our experience in the southern African water industry has shown that many companies do not have the skills and know-how available to suitably manage their own water treatment plants. Companies tend to focus on their primary activities and, if water plants experience problems, the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire production process can be placed at risk.”
“Unplanned downtime and process-wide inefficiencies can be costly, which makes it increasingly viable to wholly outsource water and wastewater treatment plant operation and maintenance to suppliers, who have the necessary skills, infrastructure and footprints in the region,” he added.
Improving efficiency to cut water treatment costs
One of the contracts Veolia recently secured requires full operation and maintenance, as well as continuous chemical supply from Veolia’s locally-manufactured Hydrex range, to improve the quality of discharged wastewater coming from a global food company’s plant near Johannesburg.
Hein van Niekerk, GM at Veolia’s local Chemicals & Consumables division, provided details, “Before we started managing the plant, the water leaving the plant into the municipal sewer system wasn’t meeting the discharge standards, resulting in our customer having to pay penalties to the municipality. Without any upgrades to the plant, and simply by managing the day-to-day operations, we’ve improved the plant’s wastewater quality to exceed the municipality’s minimum standards, which has drastically cut costs for treating the factory’s wastewater.”
A second global food company has contracted Veolia to operate plants at its Cape Town and Johannesburg factories. Veolia will assist with future upgrades to reduce water usage by employing new technologies from the global Veolia Water group, on-going optimisation, water re-use and food industry-compliant chemicals.
“In this case, we started managing the company’s wastewater plants, but this contract has matured and we’re now also responsible for all their on-site water utilities as well, such as boiler feed water and cooling water circuits. Combined with our dedicated Design & Build, Engineered Systems and Operations & Consumables divisions, our clients have access to the complete spectrum of water treatment services from a single supplier, who wholly understands their business’s needs,” said van Niekerk. “Our European sister companies have for long been bundling capabilities into a neat, fully-comprehensive operations and maintenance package, and this trend seems to have taken root in Southern Africa.”
Veolia has also been contracted by a leading soft drink manufacturer in Johannesburg to upgrade the bottling plant water purification section and to operate the plant for a fixed period after commissioning. “Unlike some of the other plants we’ve been contracted to run, we originally built this plant in 2006 for the bottling of Pepsi soft drinks. We upgraded it in 2010 to include for bottling Ceres Fruit Juice, and the latest upgrade has brought the capacity to around 120 m3 per hour. We’ll continue operating the plant to ensure maximum performance and reliability,” said van Niekerk.
Throughout the Western and Eastern Cape, Veolia has been operating and maintaining industrial and municipal plants that desalinate seawater and produce water suitable for drinking and other freshwater applications, including the large-scale seawater desalination plant in Mossel Bay, and other plants in Plettenberg Bay, Cannon Rocks, Albany Coast, Knysna and Saldanha Bay. The company also manages the large-scale Mossel Bay Re-use Plant for PetroSA and the Mossel Bay Municipality.
Veolia also operates and maintains nine plants throughout KwaZulu-Natal, including the flagship Durban Water Recycling plant which treats up to 47 Ml/day of domestic and industrial sewage to near-drinking standards for direct re-use by industry. Other projects include the two containerised wastewater treatment plants at King Shaka International Airport, which has special wastewater discharge requirements due to its location in an environmentally sensitive area. Veolia is further helping a leading global FMCG company to recover up to 70% of all water used by operating and maintaining a large-scale rain water harvesting plant.