Equipment that's built to last - and low on energy use
Landia's mixers can offer 20 years of reliable service - with basic maintenance. No wonder then, with the CRC looming, that the company is concerned about manufacturers which mislead on lifetime costs.WATER COMPANIES increasingly demand lifetime costs for equipment, but just how fair and accurate are some of the bottom-line figures that are being submitted?
According to Landia, which has one of the world's largest ranges of mixers, some contractors are in danger of being misled and should demand factual historical data.
Hugh Vaughan, Landia's UK & Eire director, is concerned about the number of instances he has seen this year where manufacturers are quoting for lifetime costs but which may include up to three or even four sets of brand new replacement units against those whose one instalment of mixers will last the entire duration of a required contract.
Vaughan explains: "At a time when we are all being told about lifetime costs, reducing materials and saving energy, it concerns me that at Landia, for example, we're basing our figures on proven historical data. This shows how through basic preventative maintenance our mixers will last, say 20 years or more, whereas some are providing so-called lifetime costs on a mixer that will be ripped out after just four years and replaced with a brand new unit.
"Where's the environmental angle in producing equipment that is cheap and gets ripped out and dumped?"
Vaughan argues that the seemingly more expensive mixers will have the slowest wearing parts, probably the smallest motor and slowest running speed - all of which ticks the boxes for AMP5 and next year's Carbon Reduction Commitment, which obliges public bodies to reduce their carbon emissions, and their energy use.
"Twenty years ago we installed eight sludge tank mixers at Severn Trent Water's sewage treatment plant outside Rugby, and they are still working. With only minimal routine maintenance required and with only very low energy consumption, these mixers have continuously homogenised the sludge and successfully prevented sedimentation.
"At the time we weren't asked for lifetime costs, but I'm going to guess that any customer would welcome the benefits of mixers with two decades of uninterrupted service."
Vaughan adds: "If we're all meant to be taking the Carbon Reduction Commitment on board then why, when Landia is called to sort out a mixing failure, do we find water companies who initially bought the one cheap mixer but because of so many breakdowns have gone out and bought another to sit on a pallet on standby ready for the inevitable failure, whilst a third is being repaired for the umpteenth time?
"We've often replaced five or six inappropriately specified mixers with just one or two. So it would seem that because some in procurement don't have the time or tenacity to consult their maintenance teams, they are costing their companies a lot of money and creating hassle and interruption to treatment processes.
"Like in a supermarket, anyone can choose the cheapest option. Where's the procurement skill in that? Why do the procurement people not liaise with the engineers? Engineers have the working knowledge to understand what problems occur on site. Do away with the 'two' budgets (capital and maintenance) and use just one. This way the two parties would have to communicate. Total running costs and lifetime costs would be reduced dramatically".
In its predominant mixer range position that includes around 150 types of submersible mixer, as well as dry installed, venturi, wall-mounted, jet-mixing and gas mixing systems - all hand built under one roof - Landia is perhaps not surprisingly critical of those who they say they are offering a mixing solution that isn't always as it appears.
"If there is to be a concerted effort from contractors and water companies to adhere to low energy costs then they might want to start reading between the lines. With our range of mixers we don't have to compromise, but some do."
Vaughan adds: "This can see modification to a unit so that it can run with the same motor to supposedly meet an application. It might be efficient manufacturing on their part but what about the customer? This 'adapt to fit' method doesn't stack up for true lifetime costs, but it's never written down."
He points to Landia's five-year, Single Source Supply Framework Agreement with Yorkshire Water for anoxic zone mixers, that was won in part by the inclusion of a low maintenance sealing system specially adapted by Landia to meet its customer's requirements.
Jeff Holmes, treatment optimisation manager at Yorkshire Water Services, says: "We were impressed with Landia's openness and no-compromise approach. They have experience and technical expertise, which we can call on to provide optimum solutions, based on true whole life costs, which is what we are looking for in a framework partner."
Vaughan adds: "Yorkshire Water Services set an exemplary industry standard by embracing the benefits of true life cycle costs, backed by genuine, long-term guarantees. The operation of the 150 Landia (slow-speed) anoxic mixers show that we can back up what we stated because mixer manufacturers should ask that all important question: what is the purpose of the application?
"How many times has a customer been told 'this is the right mixer, this'll do the job' before they've even had the chance to tell them in any detail about what they are trying to achieve or what problem they are trying to solve?"