Letter to The Editor: Where Have all the Water Treatment People Gone?

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Letter to the Editor – originally printed in “waterline-The Journal of the Water Management Society”[1]

Dear Editor,

Where have all the Water Treatment people gone?

I started in water treatment in June 1977 after being recruited straight from University to what was then Houseman Hegro Ltd, in Birkenhead. I was allocated to the Senior Engineer in the region and he was responsible for my introduction and training.

There was an immediate introduction to the business and the service requirements for customers by in field training and familiarisation with a number of trained colleagues, along with the start of technical and application training. I feel that I benefitted hugely from this and it was the basis of my knowledge for the rest of my career.

Within a year I was involved in technical training in a classroom environment run in house by senior management and technical division personnel, each in their area of expertise. It is unnecessary to go into the detail but I would think that by the end of the first 12 months in the business I was reasonably aware of the needs of my job. I believe that this was a fairly standard approach in the training of new recruits and I believe that the competition worked in a very similar way

I stayed with Houseman for 22 years in numerous sales and technical roles and then moved on into other areas of water treatment, but in that 22 years the training courses were updated in line with the business and most significantly with the need to look at Legionella!

In addition, whenever there was a new product or an update both sales and service personnel were taken off the road and retrained accordingly.

During this period of time the business and the needs for our clients have become more specific as a result of the Legionella issue, and the obvious commercial rewards that working on the control of that bacteria brings for companies in the UK. However, I believe that this situation created a “two-edged sword” as it has taken away the emphasis on the basic needs of water treatment in the quest to earn money quickly by providing a less technical approach to the business and looking at the HSE guidance notes and ACOP as a route to provide cleaning and monitoring services. This commercial opportunity has created an opportunity for many smaller and new companies to emerge and I believe that in many cases water treatment basic training was not completed because of solely concentrating on the commercial opportunity.

In a financial sense and as a business growth strategy it is difficult to criticise this, but the lack of training in water treatment has resulted in numerous basic problems where relatively simple situations in system management have escalated into critical failures of equipment and processes where in the past they would have been the key part of the water management programme within the facility.

It is potentially a great opportunity for the WMSoc to move on with its already successful training offering and make a step forward above and beyond the courses and CPD points that are provided for attendance. I believe that we should learn from our colleagues in the USA where they now provide a qualification, the CWT Certified Water Technologist. To gain this qualification the candidate attends, either physically or on line a number of training sessions and must pass an examination on all of the areas to gain the qualification and become a CWT. We are more than half way there with the training offered, it would not need to be significantly changed, though updating the courses (as we have been doing for some years now) is a constant requirement to stay in tune with the needs of the industry.

I believe that it is time for the UK to provide a qualification that is seen throughout the UK water treatment and water hygiene industry that is specific to maintaining excellent water conditions in systems and to minimise the risks of pathogens in those systems from proliferating causing illness and worse in some cases! It could not guarantee that someone with the qualification knows everything, but it would help give some confidence to the industries customers out there that there is some standard to which they can refer and hopefully maintain well managed and safe water systems in their facility.

MikeHunter

 

Mike Hunter
APTech Group
Technical Director, UK

 

 

[1] Hunter, Mike. “Letter to the Editor: Where Have All The Water Treatment People Gone.” Waterline, The Journal of the Water Management Society, Summer, 2017, p.5.

Work Smarter, Not Harder!

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Where did the summer go? Here it is September already and we are saying goodbye to summer with Labor Day fun and festivities. As I think about the real purpose of the Labor Day holiday and how it came about it reminds me of the old saying “work smarter, not harder.” The workplace has changed significantly since the first Labor Day was celebrated in the late 1800’s. Computers have certainly improved the worker’s environment and output in manufacturing and the office setting. Some of these improvements make jobs less physical and are helping us achieve more in less time, but there still never seems to be enough hours in our day to get everything done whether at work or at home. We may “clock out” from our paying jobs, but once we get home there’s work to do there, too! So, as we enter the last few months of 2017 keep that quote in mind – APTech has several ways to help you work smarter so you’re not working harder than you have to!

Start with your smartphone: If you don’t have the APTech Group app on your smartphone you are missing out on a great opportunity to work smarter. With this App you can obtain safety data sheets, product bulletins, selection guides and calculators. Need mechanical specs? A list of our equipment, product bulletins, dissolver installation instructions, videos? It’s all at your fingertips! How smart and easy is that?!

Need to place an order but not in the greatest location to make a phone call? You have options – you can use the app on your phone to send us an email with your order. You don’t have to deal with frustrating bad connections, hard to understand conversations in noisy environments, or worry about what time of day or night you send the order. A bonus to  emailing an order is that you get a confirmation that your order was received and an estimated ship date. Does that sound like something that would make your work life easier?

Summer’s over. The kids are back to school/college learning the latest technology. So don’t be old school – take advantage of APTech’s quick and easy way to get information and do business. We’re heading into the busiest time of the year for families – the holidays are just around the corner! So start making your work life easier by using the APTech app and website resources so you’re working smarter, not harder!

Drop the Water Weight

glasswaterThe grocery store…..one of life’s necessary evils. I used to stop by every day to pick up whatever I needed to make dinner. Then my wife and I started making a list and I was only going once a week or so. I did not look forward to those trips. Spending hours trying to maneuver a misaligned cart that wants to drift right, all while it gets heavier and heavier with each item. Not to mention the impulse buys….candy aisle = a few extra pounds in the cart. Luckily our grocery store now shops for me. All I have to do is swing by and pick it up. They even put it in the car!

The problem with only going once a week is that we are buying a lot more groceries at one time. While the workers at the store load my car up, they don’t follow me home to unload. I’m stuck with taking them from my car to my house…and then trying to get it all to fit. We are big milk drinkers at my house, so there are several gallons and half-gallon jugs since my son is still drinking whole milk (and a lot of it). To minimize my effort, I make as little amounts of trips to the car as possible. Trying to carry all the milk at once wreaks havoc on my arms……not to mention juice, lemonade, wine, beer, or other drinks we happened to buy.

Finally, all the groceries are in the house. Time to put it all away. The milk all needs to go in the refrigerator…plus all the other drinks because I’m more of a “drink it cold” person and not a “put ice in it” person. As I’m sure most of you know, it’s difficult to get everything to fit into the refrigerator. My Tetris skills are challenged almost every time.

Thankfully we are able to save a little space and weight on certain items. The juice people will sell you frozen cans of concentrate. Fantastic! Now I have a light, small container that I can easily stow away until I’m ready to use it. My arms and my Tetris skills salute you, juice people.

What other items have reduced or eliminated water to make transportation and storage a lot easier? Laundry detergent Pepto-Bismol, weed killer…the list goes on and on because it just makes sense. Removing water makes the product lighter, which makes it easier (and cheaper!) to ship. Water also takes up space, so these products don’t take up nearly as much room.

The same idea applies to water treatment chemicals. APTech Group manufactures solid blended concentrates, which have minimal water in them. That means shipping can be done via UPS, you can carry the product in your hand, and take up less real estate to keep inventory on-site.

-Written by David Naylor, Engineering Manager at APTech Group

The Key Ingredient in Defining a Great Meal AND Great Water Treatment

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Everyday I’m tasked with answering the question of what’s for dinner. I head out to the local grocery store to get what I need. First stop is the produce section where I grab onions, zucchini, squash, etc. In the cart they go. Next stop is the meat department. Looks like chicken breasts are on sale today…now I know what dinner is going to be! The butcher wraps up a few pounds for me and into the cart they go as well. I just need to grab a few spices and some beer and I’m ready to go home and make dinner.

First thing to do back at the house is fire up the grill. While it’s heating up, I get the chicken seasoned and cut up the veggies. Everything goes onto the grill and in about 20 minutes dinner is ready. I have successfully fed my family. The taste is just OK, and there are pieces of chicken stuck to the grill from me trying to turn them too early. In the end, it was a mediocre dinner at best. Luckily I had picked up that beer!

For the sake of this blog, let’s say that world-renown culinary superstar Bobby Flay is my neighbor. Bobby (we are on a first name basis) goes to the same store that I do. He grabs the same major ingredients. When he gets back he fires up the grill (same model as mine). I can smell him making dinner. Holy moly -that smells delicious, way better than what mine smelled like. He invites me over for a taste. INCREDIBLE!!! My taste buds are now staring in a musical, singing in perfect harmony from delight. Even his beer tasted better, even though it was the same brand. Hats off to you, Bobby Flay.

So, if we used the same equipment and ingredients….why was Bobby’s dinner so much better than mine. It simply comes down to KNOWLEDGE. Bobby has in-depth knowledge of his ingredients and his techniques. He knows what ingredient pairs perfectly with another, and what taste will complement the beer. He knows when to add a dash of salt and when to leave it out.

In the water treatment world, for the most part everyone has access to the same chemicals and equipment. Knowledge of how to put everything to use is what sets people apart. Mediocre water treaters can certainly treat a cooling tower, but a knowledgeable water treater will do it so much better. They won’t overfeed chemical or feed at the wrong times because they have the knowledge of how to make it all work in perfect harmony. At the end of the day they will be serving their customer a masterpiece instead of just some plain ol’ grilled chicken.

-Written by David Naylor, Engineering Manager at APTech Group

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Shipping Solids = Savings & Solutions

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Have you ever thought about how much it costs to get your water treatment chemicals shipped to your facility? If not, then take a look at the following example.

In order to help you see how much you could save in shipping costs switching from the traditional liquid treatment product to APTech Group’s line of solid water treatment products, let’s look at the following numbers*:

1 case of solid cooling tower treatment (non-hazardous) – 47 lbs.       $20.17
1 case of solid boiler water treatment (hazardous) – 51 lbs.                  $62.01
1 55 gallon drum liquid treatment (hazardous) – 550 lbs.                     $142.21

*These numbers are estimates – exact numbers could be higher or lower depending on current fuel prices and carrier.

In this scenario the single cases are shipped via UPS and the 55-gallon drum is shipped via LTL truck freight. These costs come from the product being shipped from Cincinnati, Ohio and going to a facility 300 miles away. Looking at these numbers it sure seems like an easy way to save on shipping costs, not to mention the carbon footprint you would be helping!

By Todd Lee, VP of Operations, APTech Group

Answers to Your Questions – APTech’s Solids Educational Video Series

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APTech Group Introduces “Solids Educational Series”

In response to requests from our partners, we produced a series of short, educational videos describing our solid-concentrates, equipment and partner tools.  Episode 1 & 2 are available now. We hope you find value in the series and gladly invite feedback and/or suggestions for future episodes.

Episode 1: Same Chemistry, Different Form

Episode 2: Equipment

Episode 3: Form -bottles, discs, sticks, tabs, BXD

Episode 4: Tips from the Field

Episode 5: Product Selection

Episode 6: APTech Tools -app, website, marketing tools

Episode 7: Solid Sustainability – Why it Matters

Episode 8: Product Estimation Calculator

Megan Marquardt, Marketing & Communications Specialist

 

Partner Support

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Lately the weather in Cincinnati has been up and down. Highs in the mid-60s one day followed by single-digit temps the next. The other day we had a high of 15F…this is the day that my furnace decided to call it quits. It turned out the heat exchanger was literally falling apart as well as some other cracks (it was 21 years old). Luckily I had installed a fireplace a few years back, so we are able to limp by for now. I now need to get a new furnace installed.

There are plenty of options when buying a new furnace. How many BTU’s do you need? Is the upgrade to 96% efficiency worth it? What is the ROI on that? 2-stage gas valve? Variable speed blower? Do I go ahead and do the A/C since it is probably about to stop working? How does one decide?

I’m a pretty handy guy. I’m sure I could have gone to the hardware store, bought one, and installed it myself. But what if I do it wrong? Who would support it if it goes out while I’m away and my family is stuck at home in the cold? Having a good HVAC company is key. They were able to help me choose the right options for my house, install it, and will fix it if something goes wrong. Its more than just buying a furnace, it’s buying the added service as well. The company behind the product is just as important as the product itself.

Water treatment is no different. APTech goes beyond just supplying you with solid water treatment chemicals. We are available to help you choose the right product for the application, provide you with sales tools to land new accounts, and will support you with whatever questions and issues you have along the way.

-Written by David Naylor, Engineering Manager at APTech Group

Sustainability and Safety – Are They Connected?

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When you think about sustainability, what do you think of? Solar panels? Recycling? LED lighting? What about safety? Should that be part of sustainability directors’ concerns? If you look at the triple pundit of sustainability – people, planet, profit – the answer is obvious, YES!

When thinking about safety and sustainability separately, they essentially mean the same thing – preserving resources. With safety, resources are people. With sustainability, those resources are usually considered environmental. Now back to the triple pundit of sustainability – since one of the pillars of sustainability is people, preserving the health and safety of people should be a prime goal of any organization working on becoming more sustainable.

As we begin March, which just happens to be Ladder Safety Month, it is important to look at processes throughout your organization to see if there is a safer option or a safer process that will help to preserve the most valuable resource, people. Blended solid concentrates from APTech Group are definitely a safer option for treating cooling towers, boilers and closed loop systems. Eliminating 55-gallon drums also eliminates the risk of injury that comes with handling them. Eliminating hazardous liquid water treatment eliminates spill potential. Visit www.aptechgroup.com to see all the advantages of our blended solid concentrates including reducing risk. Happy Ladder Safety Month!

-Written by Kathleen Collier, Senior Account Manager at APTech Group

How Being “Smart” Can Benefit Your Water Treatment Program

 

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My Garage is “Smart”

I have always been intrigued by home automation. I would get excited at the thought of walking into a room and the lights coming on, or dimming them and shutting the blinds to watch a movie. Reading articles on it sometimes seemed like it was over my head to accomplish. Recently I took some time to truly look into it and see what it takes to implement this…turns out it wasn’t as complicated as I had it built up in my head. I have now dipped my toe (more like a foot) into the home automation pool and I am loving it. I’ve tackled a few projects such as lights coming on in the evening, texting my wife when the washing machine is finished (per her request), garage door automation, and a DIY house thermostat is in the works.

Before I started, there was nothing special about my garage door. I would push the button on the wall or remote to open it. Push it again to close it. It was just a standard garage door. With just a little bit of technology, I was able to automate, monitor, and send alerts. Now I have a “smart” garage door. Think of my garage door as your water treatment program on a cooling tower at one of your accounts.

AUTOMATE – My son’s room is located above the garage, and my garage door isn’t the quietest thing in the world. I wanted to make sure that the garage door was shut before he went to bed so that there wasn’t the chance of him waking up from it. I programmed it so that every night at 7:30pm, the garage door closes itself if it is open. So, how can you automate your water treatment? The answer is traced products. When using a traced product, your pump will automatically pump the right amount until your setpoint is reached.

MONITOR – Part of the night time routine at my house was to check to make sure the garage is closed, as I’m sure yours is similar. Now, however, I can just pull out my phone and check the status from my couch. No more walking over to the garage to check for this guy. I saved myself a whopping 30 seconds! Fantastic! OK, it’s not very impressive when you are “onsite”. Let’s say my family leaves for vacation to Florida. My wife asks me if I remember if the garage door shut when we left. Once again I just pull out my phone and check. Now I’ve saved myself either flying home or calling someone to check on it. With remote monitoring, you can easily check on the status of your treatment program and make sure everything is how you expect it to be.

ALERTS – What happens if someone tinkers with my setup and things get messed up? The only way I would know if the garage door was open would be to either look for myself or check my phone. I wouldn’t want to have to do that all the time. My solution was to have my garage alert me via text message every time it opens or closes. The same principle applies to your “smart” water treatment. If your levels are out of spec, you can be alerted to the issue right away…wherever you are.

As you can see, by simply making my garage “smart”, I’ve freed up some time, can check on things whenever I want, and am more connected to what is happening. A “smart” water treatment program will do the same for you. Your customer will appreciate how in-tune you are with their system…not to mention how quickly you are able to react to issues that arise. It may even allow you to space out your onsite visits…therefore saving you money.

-Written by David Naylor, Engineering Manager at APTech Group

Real “Green” vs. Fake “Green”

simpsons-movie-dome-1Real “Green” vs. Fake “Green”

Channel surfing last night led us to a re-run of the movie “The Simpsons”. This was the movie where the whole town of Springfield was put under a glass bubble by the EPA due to their (Homer’s, naturally) inability to cope with years of dumping toxic waste into Lake Springfield. The crux of the story is that while the citizenry as a whole finally wake up to fix the problem, it only takes a handful to tip the balance and ruin it for everyone.

The movie allowed my mind to wander about the whole environmental movement and the misguided efforts of many to wrap an existing product into a new package in order to call it “green”. These items cover the whole spectrum of offerings-from gadgets that attach to domestic water pipes with promises to “soften” the water without conventional salt chemistry – to products that have been “certified green” by some agency that only requires a fee for this certification – to items such as light bulbs that extend the life of the bulb and require less energy, but are loaded with environmentally hazardous materials.

Fortunately, our Solid-Concentrated Water Treatment is not one of those products. We don’t pretend or promise a panacea for eliminating all aspects of dealing with chemical water treatments, but we have made great strides in providing a product that eliminates most of the hazards of shipping and handling of corrosive liquid products. Simply put, Solid-Concentrates by APTech Group:

• use existing water treatment technology
• is produced in a different form
• is easier and safer to use
• is more environmentally friendly

So, if you are in need of a best-of-breed water treatment program for cooling tower, closed loop system or boiler applications, we encourage you to consider APTech solid-concentrates. You’ll get the water treatment you need, plus really help to sustain the environment.

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