1. Cut out unnecessary Testing
Have your monitoring programme reviewed by an industry professional. A qualified consultant will be able to tell you which tests are crucial for determining performance, for EPA/DES requirements, for long-term trending and for troubleshooting purposes. Some expensive bacteriological tests, for example, have an indicator organism that may be more affordable to detect. A professional consultant will take into account your specific circumstances and ensure you are testing the right parameters for your required outcomes.
2. Consolidate your environmental work
Many service providers in the water & environmental industries will give you better rates the larger your account is. Sourcing a supplier who can provide multiple services and products that you require will increase your bargaining power with that supplier, while minimising your total expenses. For example, you may be able to find one supplier for sampling, analysis troubleshooting advice, preparation of compliance reports and independent audits.
3. Review your sampling days and times while considering freight arrangements
Although it’s true that many samples must be received by the laboratory within a strict holding time, this doesn’t mean you have to use the fastest or most expensive courier or freight service to transport the samples.
Liaise with your laboratory and/or freight provider and arrange your sampling schedule to correspond with the days of the week when freight volumes tend to be lower. Your freight provider should be able to recommend certain days that are generally less busy, and therefore a less expensive service will still serve your time requirements.
Alternatively, use your laboratory’s preferred freight carrier or courier service to get better rates. Most freight and courier companies use a sliding scale of prices depending on account size, so you’ll get a better price if you let your lab organise the freight arrangements.
Some laboratories also have pick up services that you can take advantage of.
4. Be disciplined in sample collection
If you do your own sample collection, it’s important to follow the proper procedure, to avoid the cost of having to re-sample. Read thoroughly any work procedure documents or sampling instructions provided by your laboratory.
Make sure your lab has provided you the right bottles for the analysis you want. Keep in mind certain tests need to be done out of specific bottle types, so if you send in the wrong bottles, you may be stuck with insufficient sample (and hence no results) or inaccurate results. In the end this results in spending extra time and money re- sampling and re-analysing.
Check bottle labels and sample point names. By properly and legibly labeling all sample bottles with the correct sample point name, you’ll save yourself time explaining or guessing the identification of samples. You can avoid extra costs associated with having to re-sample due to wrong results and mislabeled or unlabeled bottles.
Include a detailed, legible Chain of Custody complete with your contact information when sending in samples. Without a Chain of Custody, the laboratory will not be able to commence testing right away, in turn lengthening the turnaround time for results. Some laboratories will provide pre-printed Chains of Custody in the sample kit upon request so you don’t have to spend time writing out sample names and testing details.
5. Send samples in large batches or purchase test suites where possible
Some laboratories have batch fees applied once per batch of samples received. If this is the case, send samples in larger batch sizes, if possible.
In other cases, your laboratory may have suites of tests that are discounted rather than purchasing each parameter individually. Check with your laboratory for specific policies, and pricing structures.
6. Safeguard your data
There’s nothing worse than discovering that one incorrect data entry in a spreadsheet has been corrupting your trend lines and reports with incorrect information. A robust, secure datastore (database or spreaddsheet store) is crucial for converting data generated by a laboratory into information that you can actually use. Find a datastore with the following components:
- Multiple levels of security, for different staff roles (data entry, management etc)
- Easy or automatic graphical and statistical data analysis tools
- The ability to create and save queries for key performance indicators in your water quality management system
- Easy import of data from the laboratory
Having a robust database or spreadsheet store with these characteristics saves you countless hours of data entry and data checking time. The right datastore can also cut down on the time required to prepare reports and graphs for management meetings, making it easier and quicker to identify potential environmental or process problems and correct them. You can save thousands of dollars in fines and consulting fees at local authority audit if your data is properly recorded and you’ve identified problems early.
7. Train your people to a high standard
With properly trained treatment plant operators and environmental officers, you’ll find it easier to comply with environmental standards and you will save money. Many expensive repairs required on treatment processes are caused by the lack of routine maintenance procedures, often due to poorly trained staff. Although an initial investment is required for proper training, in the long run you’ll find you infrastructure repair & replacement costs decrease and monitoring costs are kept low because work is done right the first time.