Flovac engineers from around the world met up last month in a dizzying tour through four countries in Europe visiting projects and discussing important trends in vacuum sewer designs.
Four of the engineers traveled all the way from the Australian engineering centre to join colleagues in Flovac’s three major engineering centre’s in Holland, Poland and Germany. Over the course of the week the engineering teams also visited Slovenia to see a number of the new vacuum systems that have been installed there.
One of the most unique aspects of Flovac’s engineering team is the geographical spread around the world. This gives a recognition that all projects are different and will have local requirements. What is appropriate for design in Estonia is different for Dubai or Spain. But by having regular discussions of this nature we can learn from those different situations.
What makes the Flovac engineers unique is how they participate in all aspects of the vacuum projects. It is very typical for the engineers to be involved in the autocad drawings, the engineering design and system modelling and also in the project management and installation of equipment, especially within the vacuum pump stations. And it doesn’t end there. At a recent project in Sydney Australia all of the engineering group took turns in maintaining and operating a new vacuum system for the client. This gave them a good appreciation of any operational difficulties that arose at the beginning of the project.
Some of the major new challenges facing the engineers across the world is global warming and its impact on the vacuum sewer industry. The teams looked closely at how energy savings could be made to the system design and also how to ensure the systems can cope effectively when there is very little water due to increasing drought scenarios. Increasing severe storm activity and extreme temperatures were also discussed to ensure that the Flovac products and designs could meet the challenges.
One of the first visits was to the main operations centre in Germany which looks after 100 different vacuum systems for clients. Many of the systems have full valve and system cable monitoring which provides a huge amount of data to the operators which the engineers can use to improve the designs. This also highlights the shift globally to more and more systems using monitoring in the reticulation networks, both via cable and wireless.
One of the key features of the engineering team is their close relationship with the operators, with many new products and design features being improved due to requests from the operators for functional reasons as well as health and safety regulatory changes.
Flovac is the only company in the vacuum sewerage industry that is first and foremost an engineering firm. This uniqueness and willingness to take liability for all aspects of the design ensures that clients have a single point of accountability.