The person in charge of maintenance in an agri-food production plant regularly faces many challenges. Preventive maintenance of production equipment, breakage and emergency repairs, as well as work schedule planning are part of his daily life. For some maintenance managers, wastewater treatment adds to these tasks.
Costs associated with the operation of a water treatment system are significant, whether operating and maintenance costs of the equipment itself or the purchase of chemicals for its operation. Here are four pointers that, when implemented, significantly reduce the costs of chemicals.
STEP 1 : PROPERLY CHOOSE YOUR CHEMICAL PRODUCTS
When the time comes to choose the chemicals to use for your effluent treatment, it is good practice to call in a specialized chemical supplier. The supplier will make a series of jar tests on your raw water (the wastewater entering the treatment unit) in order to determine the best combination of products and their dosage for an optimal performance of the treatment system in place. These reagents allow water to be separated from the various pollutants it contains. The wastewater treatment system will concentrate the pollutants in order to remove them from the water, thus allowing a treated water discharge in accordance with regulations in place.
Does your supplier have access to a wide range of reagents?
Many suppliers of water treatment products are not manufacturers; they have limited access to the range of chemicals available on the market. The representative or technician, who is selecting the products he will ultimately sell you, must work with a limited catalog of products he has to offer. In the majority of cases, he will be able to find a combination of products and develop a recipe for treating your wastewater to the desired level. But will it be the optimal combination?
Does your supplier evaluate the overall impact of his selection?
In these treatability tests, proof alone of the effectiveness of the recipe is not enough. Costs associated with required pH correction caused by using certain reagents, because of the volume of sludge generated, or for sludge disposal, must also be assessed.
The selection of chemicals for wastewater treatment has a financial impact at two levels: the direct purchase cost of these reagents and the cost related to the volume of sludge they generate.
STEP 2: HAVE A GLOBAL VIEW OF THE CHEMICALS USED IN YOUR PLANT
Typically in the food industry, chemicals are used for three applications: cleaning of production equipment, process water conditioning and effluent treatment. In the majority of cases, two different suppliers provide the plant for these reagents.
In most cases, these two suppliers operate independently from each other and, with the exception of selling you products, their goals are very different. The purpose of the sanitary product supplier is to ensure the perfect cleaning of equipment and production areas in accordance with sanitary standards, without taking into account the impact on wastewater treatment. The person who supplies the products for the treatment of your effluents, wants to ensure that he applies the correct recipe for your treated effluent to comply with regulations. Note that his responsibility is to demonstrate that his recipe works at the laboratory scale. However, this does not guarantee the performance of water treatment equipment. In short, he operates independently from the supplier of cleaning products.
Optimizing the cleaning method of production equipment by refining the selection of products used, the dilution volume and rinsing water required can result in substantial savings on chemicals used for your wastewater treatment.
It is therefore advantageous to ensure coordination between the supplier of sanitary cleaning products and the supplier of the effluent treatment products. A global vision of water management and the required additives can only be beneficial. Note that there are suppliers that offer both ranges of chemicals, but they are few in number.
STEP 3: OPTIMIZE PRODUCT DOSAGE
For cleaning and disinfection, once the recipes and dilutions are established, be sure to apply them consistently. Too often, dosing equipment is either inadequate or out of calibration. Efficient and reliable dosing equipment ensures you use the optimum quantity of products at all times. It should be kept in mind that the optimization of the cleaning protocol directly affects wastewater treatment.
For effluent treatment, the optimum dosage is often a challenge, as the type and amount of pollution contained in the effluent varies over time. The use of a buffer tank makes it possible to partially overcome this problem since the variations of the charge to be treated will not take minutes, but hours. Nevertheless, real-time modulation of the reagent dose (proportional metering) is required to minimize the amount of chemicals used and avoid under or over dosage. The use of equipment that reacts in real time to the pollutant load of the raw water saves a lot of money.
It is therefore important to ensure that the dosing and dilution system for cleaning agents are well calibrated, as it is preferable to have a chemical feed proportional to the pollutant load contained in the wastewater to be treated.
STEP 4: USE A SPECIALIST
There are technical specialists who can globally evaluate the use of chemicals in your plant. Following an analysis of your sanitary cleaning needs and a characterization of your wastewater, these specialists will then have an overview of the situation and a clear understanding of your needs. With this information, they can optimize the dosage of the reagents used or suggest another that would be more efficient.
A specialist with an overview of your operations can save you money.
As you can see, in agri-food production, it is more than desirable to manage overall consumption of chemicals, specifically those required for sanitation and those used for effluent treatment. In addition to a potential reduction in reagent consumption, a reduction in the volume of sludge to be disposed of can be expected. This optimization exercise will therefore certainly generate cost savings.