4 Things Every Purchaser Should Know About Water Treatment
Author: Christa Brown - Business Development Manager
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Water Treatment can be a tricky category to purchase. I’ve spent much of my career trying to explain the nuances. There are many different offerings in the marketplace, and on the surface, the costs can appear to span a very large range. So let’s get started with the basics.
Every Water Treatment Vendor’s Goal: To provide the equipment, chemical products, and services necessary to prolong equipment life, prevent failures, and lower the overall operating costs including utilities such as water, energy and gas.
Now, 4 Key Facts About Water Treatment that will hopefully assist you in purchasing it more effectively for your organization.
1. Costs should fluctuate like any other utility.
When you lower your temperature set point at home during the night to save on electricity, you expect to see that reflected as savings on your monthly bill.
Initially, it does appear easier to manage. We all have to work within budgets and this can be easier when our monthly and annual costs are set. However, there are many operating parameters that will affect the required amount of Water Treatment throughout the year.
Some of these operating parameters ARE within our control – condensate return ratios, deaerator effectiveness, cycles of concentration, etc.
Think of these parameters like shutting off all water taps when they are not in use, or turning off the lights when you are not in a room.
This is exactly why fixed-rate contracts are not advantageous. Increasing operating costs highlight these bad practices and then become the driver to correct these controllable factors! This leads to decreased costs across multiple categories, decreased impact on the environment and increased efficiency.
Some operating parameters are NOT within our control. For example:
- There is a direct and linear relationship between the number of cooling degree days during the cooling season – the amount of water required for HVAC purposes – and therefore, the cost of Water Treatment.
- There is a direct and linear relationship between increased production – the amount of water required for steam and cooling applications related to production – and therefore, the cost of Water Treatment.
2. Water Treatment products are NOT commodity chemicals.
- Cost to treat 1000 USG of water
- Cost to treat 1M lbs of steam
For example, the actual fuel economy will depend on the way the vehicle is operated – highway vs city driving, average speed, style of acceleration, idling, etc.
Many of the technical operating parameters that affect the cost to treat 1000 USG of water, need to be assumed for budgeting purposes. Therefore, it is essential that the evaluation of any Water Treatment vendor’s budget, must first include a thorough evaluation and agreement of the assumed operating parameters.
3. Service value is typically built into the product cost.
The type and level of Service Program that will bring the best value to your organization is somewhat subjective. It will depend on your Industry and the perceived needs at your particular facility.
Each Water Treatment company has curated a variety of different service offerings and developed company processes that they believe are best suited to help the key industries they serve to succeed. Each vendor’s approach may have pros and cons for your particular organization. For this reason, it is not advised to rely on creating a detailed scope of work in an attempt to put all service programs in a box.
Think of this like trying to write a detailed description of an iPhone, and then asking Samsung to meet that spec. The two companies have completely different approaches to meeting a similar goal. Some users prefer one approach over the other.
Instead, consider designing an evaluation process that encourages creativity and innovation by allowing Water Treatment companies to showcase their approach to meeting your company’s objectives.
It’s all about fit. Like finding the right pair of jeans. From their service approach and procedures to their corporate culture and policies, there’s a best fit for every organization.
4. Cost of Water Treatment CANNOT be evaluated in a silo or single category.
Penny wise and dollar foolish.
Therefore, the evaluation of Water Treatment costs should always be the part of a bigger picture.
There should always be a direct link to Cost Avoidance in other categories when executed properly.
If the costs in any in the following categories are increasing, it may be a good time to take a closer look at your Water Treatment Service Program to see if it truly is the best fit for your organization:
- Utility costs – water, electricity & gas
- Maintenance costs – man hours, repair, replacement, downtime, etc.
- Contract costs – man hours associated with managing a vendor, mediation, negotiation, etc.
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Christa Brown is a Professional Engineer and has a Chemical Engineering degree from Dalhousie University. She is a Business Development Manager with over 10 years of experience designing and implementing solutions for water systems. Christa is an avid listener of CBC radio and her favorite shows are ‘Under the Influence’, ‘This is That’, and ‘Quirks & Quarks’.
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