Talks With Terry

Welcome to the fourth of a series of ‘chats’ with Terrence Allen, one of our friendly engineers.

Thanks for the info on commissioning, what are we talking about today?

Hmm, why don’t we talk about auditing?

I don’t know…that sounds like something that the tax office would do.

Actually, all kinds of industries conduct all different kinds of audits. Basically, an audit is the process of checking that things are happening as they should be and identifying where they’re not. Audits also include figuring out what can be done to get things back into shape.

Okay, that sounds good, but can you tell me what an audit involves?

In our case, we audit water or wastewater treatment plants. We do this by having experienced and qualified engineers review the current conditions of the plant to see if things are running according to specifications. When they’ve done the review, our engineers put together cost effective recommendations to address any problems. They’ll also suggest possible upgrades and improvements.

So kind of checking everything is running right and fixing it if it’s not?

Essentially, yes. Auditing helps our clients to be able to fix things before they break, minimize down time and do what’s best for the environment.

Are there different types of audits?

There are. The type of audit that we’d recommend will depend on the size of the plant, the effluent quality it produced over the recent month (up to a year) and how in depth the client wishes the audit to be.

Great, let’s break it down.

First we’ll talk about desktop assessments. A desktop assessment is an external review of the treatment plant.

What do you mean by “external”?

In this case, no site visit is required. That might sound strange, but this process is ideal for sites that have previously assessed their treatment plant, but may need to update their information. It is particularly useful as a routine procedure to note changes in infrastructure, operations and influent quality.

If they don’t visit the site, what do your engineers use to conduct the “desktop assessment” audit?

Typically we use photographs of the plant, past testing results, previous design information (for example, Operation & Maintenance Manuals) or drawings and client input.

And what does the client get at the end?

The results are summarised in a short report which is easy to read and the engineer who completed the assessment will talk you through the findings over the phone.

Okay, but what if I want someone to come on site?  

Then you would prefer our treatment plant inspection. A plant inspection involves one of our experienced engineers reviewing your water or wastewater treatment plant with your regular operator. This on-site assessment will be accompanied by the desktop review, so as the outcome you will receive a confirmation of your plant’s capacity as well as feedback on the optimum operational parameters and process changes to improve your plant’s performance.

And what type of workplace is that suited to?

A treatment plant inspection is suitable for sites that are unsure of the condition of their plant and would like a summary of how their plant is performing. This is a quick method that benchmarks the plant and equipment’s condition and identifies any present and potential non-compliance issues.

I see. Well, what if I want something more in depth? I know that my plant is run-down and not performing as it once did. I need a proper engineering review and a report outlining upgrades required and how much those will cost.

Ah yes, that’s where our standard and comprehensive audits would come into play. The standard audit is one of the most common performance measurement tools used for water and wastewater treatment plant analysis, which requires a thorough on-site examination.

And what kind of clients typically use this process?

This audit is suitable for a vast range of clients who have a moral and legal obligation to ensure their water and/or wastewater treatment plant is in line with regulatory guidelines. A formal report by our experienced engineers and scientists provides a full analysis and recommendations on how to improve the operation of your plant.

Great, but what if I’m looking to make some major changes to my plant and I am ready to go ahead with any upgrades recommendations?

Then you would need our comprehensive audit. The most detailed of the audit assessment measures is the comprehensive audit requiring an on-site thorough examination of the facility and the external environment to generate a comprehensive report. In addition to addressing the recommendations of a standard audit, it would provide sufficient information for you to seek external quotations to go ahead with the work.

By now you must know what I’m going to ask.

I do! The comprehensive audit is ideal for water treatment plants that are undergoing major change or have not thoroughly been audited recently, in the last three to five years.

Okay. What will my audit results tell me?

Audit results will identify any upgrades or refits required to meet current and projected population demand, regulation, resources available at the location, and operator availability and skill. When planning a plant upgrade our engineers are very careful to make recommendations applicable to the operating environment, location and logistics.

If something isn’t running right does that mean it needs to be rebuilt?

Not always. We will always aim for upgrades and refits rather than rebuilding and will always recommend a solution that demonstrates good science and engineering, and good economics.

What are some of the reasons I would need an upgrade?

Treatment plant upgrades are needed for several reasons including change in the influent quality, local catchment development, existing equipment being at the end of its useful life or if the client would like to move to a new technology. Treatment plant refits may also be required by plants damaged by the lack of maintenance, age, construction faults or natural disasters.

Cool. And what are some of the benefits I’ll receive?

Benefits include reducing capital investment and operating costs, improving the quality of the water produced,  protecting the current and future health of the community, reducing the impact on the environment and ensuring future compliance with government legislation and regulation. Pretty neat, huh?

Great, I think you’ve covered everything I wanted to know

No problem. Stay tuned over the coming months for more information about what we do here at Simmonds & Bristow!