The importance of engineering expertise in wastewater treatment

Wastewater treatment plants carry out a vital function for urban and regional areas of Australia, removing contaminants from water and sewage before it is reused of discharged into the environment.

Effective treatment relies on robust, sturdy equipment and machinery that can operate reliably in biochemically extreme conditions over long periods of time.

However, parts and components will at times need replacement to maintain the smooth operations that guide wastewater through the primary, secondary, and tertiary treatment processes. As sudden failure of components or machinery can lead to significant environment risk, it is necessary for regular monitoring and servicing of wastewater treatment equipment.

This is where Inenco Group’s engineering services team comes in. Wayne D’Souza, National Accounts Manager at Inenco Group, explained that while many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for most part only supply products to wastewater treatment, Inenco and its companies BSC and CBC have the expertise to both provide high-quality products and experienced engineering support.

“The wastewater sector, due to the potential for environmental harm, is very averse to risk. And we understand that and that is something we cater for. Wastewater treatment plants not only require reliable components, but they also require high-quality engineering support. What they aren’t getting from the OEMs is the latter. We offer both.”

D’Souza explained that the rapidly-evolving nature of technology has meant that products, and the installation and maintenance processes required for products, have changed, sometimes dramatically.

“Components and products often last a lot longer now. We’ve identified a number of what we call ‘problem-solver’ products, which we put in front of the customer and explain what applications they can be used for and what the benefits are. Further, we can demonstrate that we have the engineering support to not only install the products, provide monitoring and maintenance, but also provide specialist training for the operator’s maintenance team,” said D’Souza.

“We can also invite in our suppliers to provide training and knowledge on their particular products. We have a longstanding relationship with suppliers such as Schaeffler and Gates, for instance, where they come out onto a wastewater site and supervise installations.”

Close relationships with suppliers and in-house product expertise at Inenco’s BSC and CBC branches also enable product recommendations that are suited to particular wastewater operations.

“In the wastewater treatment space, one treatment plant may have totally different processes to another, so some of our problem-solver products might be relevant to one site but not to another. We hone-in on what the customer needs,” D’Souza explained.

For the Inenco’s wastewater teams, determining what works for a particular treatment plant often starts with carrying out site surveys, mapping out the equipment and machinery that the customer is using, and identifying applications which have the potential to cause problems.

“We can determine whether there are better products that can replace existing ones. And we can suggest what products they should use for those applications,” said D’Souza. “That’s what distinguishes us. What sets us apart from our competition is that we offer an extensive range of quality products, which is supported by our engineering expertise.”

BSC and CBC have extensive branch coverage across Australia. BSC, in particular, has a strong presence in regional areas. This means that wastewater treatment plants run by local governments in these areas can have reliable access to the company’s engineering services.

“We were called in by a major wastewater utility company to look at some thermography work, which led into product supply – a large order. The customer felt confident that we could not only provide quality service, but also provide the right products to improve operations. We don’t just supply product for the sake of it. If we have something more suitable, we will make those recommendations. That comes with having in-house expertise,” said D’Souza.

Inenco’s engineers will periodically carry out scheduled condition monitoring services for critical pieces of equipment, which D’Souza said served as a critical safety check for customers.

“This is usually on customers’ critical pieces of equipment. It is ongoing and it is relatively inexpensive to do, especially if you consider the cost of a catastrophic failure that occurs because condition monitoring hasn’t been carried out,” he explained.

Wastewater treatment is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year operation. With potentially huge environmental impacts if something goes wrong, it is critical that engineering support is reliable and easily accessible when it is needed.

“We run a 24/7 operation to back up what we supply,” said D’Souza.

“Our customers need to be able to know they can ring us up at 3am in the morning and get us to come out and look at a broken motor or gearbox. We always have someone on call. When you’re working in such a critical space, its essential that we can give the customer that confidence.”

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Pharmaceuticals in the water

Waste Management Review speaks with Ace Waste about a waste definition loophole that’s seeing upwards of 525,000 kilograms of pharmaceutical waste landfilled in Victoria each year.

Following a two-year testing period of Melbourne water streams, a 2018 study, published in Nature Communications, found traces of 69 different drugs in observed insects and spiders.

According to the study, a platypus living in a stream on Melbourne’s fringes could receive more than a half human dose of anti-depressants each day.

The study did not specifically address how the drugs ended up in Melbourne’s waterways. That said, the research team suggested that they likely entered via the sewer system.

Similar studies have been conducted into the result of household flushing of pharmaceuticals, such as a 2017 Environmental Pollution report that found pharmaceuticals in surface water in Antarctica. Investigations into the phenomenon from the context of hospitals, however, yield little results.

While pharmaceuticals entering the environment via hospitals hasn’t sparked significant publicly accessible research, Ace Waste’s directors believe it’s a significant issue.    

Under Australian federal law, all pharmaceutical waste must be incinerated to ensure it is disposed of in the safest way possible. Clinical waste however, which includes any material resulting from medical, nursing, dental or otherwise health related activity, can legally be either incinerated or treated before landfill.

While on the surface the distinction seems apt, a half-full vial of codeine poses more environmental and human health harm than a disposable medical glove, the standard makeup of clinical waste complicates the situation.

Managing Director John Homewood says Ace Waste has been working in this industry for 31 years and as part of its central business practice, conducts regular waste audits.

“We’ve found that on average, 15 per cent of clinical waste is pharmaceutical, including physical drugs and chemical residue.”

For example, Executive Director Alex Homewood says when a patient is injected with morphine or other scheduled drugs, residual liquid remains inside the sharp or syringe.

“That sharp then goes into a sharps container, but the residual morphine remains present,” he says.

“Residual pharmaceutical additives also remain in infusion bags and IV lines, which can hold in excess of 100 millilitres.”

Currently, no public hospital in Victoria incinerates its waste according to Alex, meaning all clinical and related waste in the state is treated and landfilled.

“It has simply been that way for many years, and whether Melbourne health facilities have done audits to satisfy themselves I do not know, but what I do know is that our audits show 15 per cent of clinical waste contains pharmaceutical residue, if not pharmaceuticals,” he says.

“That fact implies that all Victorian hospitals are inadvertently breaking the law.”

In contrast, Alex says all public hospitals in South East Queensland use incineration to process clinical waste.

“All hospitals from Wide Bay right down to the border insist on high-temperature incineration because they recognise the problem of pharmaceutical waste residues,” Alex says.

While the Victorian EPA is responsible for regulating the storage, transport, treatment and disposal of clinical and related wastes in Victoria under the Environment Protection Regulations 2009, its Clinical and Related Waste Operational Guidance resource highlights generator responsibility.

Generator responsibility, broadly, refers to the concept that a producer of waste is responsible for its accurate definition and subsequent disposal.

According to the EPA guidance paper, generators must take all necessary precautions to minimise potential hazards, and ensure they manage clinical and related wastes safely and legally.

While the EPA guidance resource was published in 2009, at the time of writing, it is the only related resource available on the EPA Victoria website.

“I can’t speak to internal processes and whether or not individual hospitals are aware of the problem, but when hospitals are branding pharmaceutical waste clinical and related, and therefore sending it to treatment and landfill, that’s a breach of the law and a basic responsibility to protect human health and the environment,” John says.

While the knowledge of individual hospitals isn’t clear, John and Alex say they have informed the Victorian Health Department (VicHealth).

“The Health Department is aware, and they need to start taking serious steps to address the problem,” John says.

In an average year, 3.5 million kilos of clinical waste is produced in Melbourne Metro, using Ace Waste audits, that equates to 525,000 kilograms of mistreated waste. John says expanding that figure to Victoria at large highlights a real problem of scale.

“If Victorian hospitals don’t change the way they operate in this space, the health risks are huge, but it’s not that complex, there are very clear avenues available to address it,” he says.

John adds that rectifying the issue will not require huge investments in new waste infrastructure, because the capacity already exists. When you include Ace Waste, there are two companies currently capable of incinerating Victoria’s clinical waste, he says.

“If the state’s hospitals don’t implement strict procedures to separate clinical and pharmaceutical waste at the source, which given the fact medical professionals operate in stressful and often life-threatening situations, would be borderline impossible, VicHealth needs to begin enforcing incineration,” he says.

“Treating and landfilling residual pharmaceuticals is not only contributing to our current environmental problems, but actively making them worse.”

At the time of writing, VicHealth had not responded to Waste Management Review’s request for comment.

This article was published in the December edition of Waste Management Review. 

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Facility managers go green: National Weighing & Instruments

A push towards increased sustainability performance outcomes is inspiring the commercial and industrial sector to turn to waste management audit software.

A sustainable transformation towards NABERS ratings usage has in the past year been making waves across the commercial and industrial (C&I) waste sector.

According to the NABERS Annual Report for the financial year 2018-19, the new waste rating acts as the foundation of a circular economy, with 10 leading retail organisations using the system.

The popular system, which measures the environmental performance of Australian buildings, tenancies and homes, has according to National Weighing & Instruments led to a spike in demand for its industrial weighing solutions in the C&I space.

It comes as firms are increasingly looking to understand how much waste they are producing to not only reduce their environmental impact, but potentially lower their costs.

Marketing Manager Ryan Reinker says unlike traditional waste management audit software, the Industrial Waste Management (iWM) System is an all-in-one package that comprises scale, weighing and software componentry.

“The benefit of our system is you have one point of contact through us with no yearly license or software fees. Once operators purchase the system, it’s theirs,” Ryan says.

He says that there is minimal maintenance required with only yearly calibration and scales, unless users choose to take up a leasing option.

The iWM system offers a comprehensive record for managing a variety of waste streams at a diverse range of facilities, including office blocks, hotels and restaurants, school, colleges and universities, factories and hospitals. The system is powered by a weighing computer and runs on Windows CE.

The system also offers legal-for-trade weighing systems for those charging by weight. Key features include a versatile touchscreen, spreadsheet printouts in CSV form, full traceability for invoicing and suitability for all types of wheeled bins up to 1100 litres.

Waste bins and containers can be electronically tagged by waste type and client, with a tag reader sending data directly to the terminal. Tags can be programmed with information including tare (empty weight), client ID and location. Data redundancy ensures the data can be captured using the device itself in the event of SIM failures.

“For tenants, they can have a breakdown of waste streams to monitor how much they are producing,” he says.

Ryan says it’s also a closed system, meaning that if companies need to allow remote access they can supply their SIM cards to National Weighing & Instruments on a closed network for remote support, assistance or training. Additionally, changes or alterations to software are not possible, preventing troubleshooting issues from exacerbating.

With a national presence in every major city except Canberra, National Weighing & Instruments stands ready to provide strong after-sales support.

“This, added to the remote login feature for service support, gives us superior after-sales assistance,” he says.

As for the company’s next steps? Ryan hopes it can become even more user-friendly by offering innovative features, such as taking snapshots of bins to provide evidence of contamination in real time, as opposed to traditional manual recording.

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Tackling the changing waste segment: Isuzu

Isuzu is responding to waste industry trends with a plan to improve fuel economy and durability through the launch of its new Dual Control waste and refuse line-up.

When problems in the Australian recycling sector arise, such as in the international landscape, it grabs our attention quickly.

At an on-the-ground level, the volatility of international recycling markets makes the triple bottom line an increasingly valuable proposition. In this vein, increased efficiencies and better environmental outcomes become critical to providing best practise contracts.

Amid the chorus of calls for transformational change to our waste and resource recovery systems, Isuzu Trucks is stepping up to the plate.

At this year’s Waste Expo, the company recently announced the launch of an all new dual control waste and refuse truck line-up with four models available (plus wheelbase options).

The new range of factory-built and backed dual control solutions hits the Australian market as the waste sector responds to a post National Sword era.

As the waste industry calls for greater efficiencies throughout their operations, the release of Isuzu’s new low-tare weight dual control waste solutions couldn’t be timelier.

Developed in Australia and with celebrated origins in Isuzu’s tried and tested FSR 140-260 4×2 Dual Control model, the new, expanded dual control range aims to offer high value coupled with reliability.

Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) National Sales Manager Les Spaltman says the Isuzu Dual Control range represent best value and performance in each model and is smartly specified.

He says the factory developed range has been carefully designed for Australian conditions and considerations.

“Many would be aware of the discontinuation of some of the more traditional, go-to truck models in this sector. In response, we have a highly competitive, low-tare weight solution on offer – one which ticks some key boxes for Australian operators,” Les says.

The existing dual rated FSR dual control model is available in 12- and 14-tonne gross vehicle mass (GVM) models.

It features robust Isuzu axles, multi-leaf steel spring rear suspension, dual circuit air over hydraulic front and rear drum brakes with ABS, Allison LCT 2500 transmission and ISRI 6860 with integrated seat belt in both left- and right-hand driver positions.

The new 16,500- and 24,000-kilogram GVM dual control models comprise standout componentry, including Hendrickson airbag rear suspension, which delivers substantial tare weight advantages. Les says these features offer a key advantage over competing brands.

The new FVZ dual control models use Isuzu’s robust six-rod and trunnion taper leaf type rear suspension, offering excellent levels of cross-articulation for work in arduous terrain, for example at a waste processing facility.

The new line-up applies the spotlight to two proven platforms from Isuzu’s medium-duty F Series line-up.

Isuzu’s Dual Control range boasts the company’s much-lauded six-cylinder, 24-valve 6HK1-TCC and TCS engines, renowned for their power, performance, economy and efficiency, especially under high idle conditions.

Common features across all Isuzu dual control models include high precision cross shafts linking both left- and right-hand steering columns.

Both driving positions are furnished with ISRI 6860 adjustable air-suspended seats with integrated seat belts, offering maximum comfort and operational visibility.

All Isuzu dual control models also come equipped with Allison automatic transmission as standard equipment, from the LCT 2500 Series in the FSR, through to the rugged 3000 Series in the FVD model and the 3500 Series in the FVZ and FVY 6×4 variants.

For ease of operation, the instrument panel has been duplicated on the left-hand driving side. Both driving positions feature air-assisted steering wheel height adjustment for complete driver customisation and control. The design also retains existing cab electrical harnessing, with ‘plug and play’ additional wiring harnesses.

Fresh safety elements include interlocks for control change overs, safety yellow grab handles and steps, along with Isuzu’s existing safety suite including ABS, RHS driver airbag and cornering lamps for urban laneway safety.

“We’ve worked really hard to develop a compelling total cost of ownership argument across these models,” Les says.

“Lower tare weights bring improved productivity and payload. And when you add the commonality of parts we’ve developed with our F Series range, the equation really adds up in favour of our customers.”     

Les says the trucks were designed specifically for Australian conditions and in response to industry needs.

“We have incorporated proven efficiencies across our engines, driveline and chassis componentry, wheelbase options and in-cab appointments, making this dual control line-up extremely competitive on a number of fronts.

“We know that when it comes to the waste and refuse industry, reliability, economy and durability are non-negotiables. We believe these new models have these qualities in spades.”

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Chain of compliance: Transport Waste Solutions

A partnership between Transport Waste Solutions Australia and Axtec is helping waste and transport companies meet their Chain of Responsibility obligations.

When new Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws came into effect last year, weighing systems and software supplier Transport Waste Solutions Australia (TWS) formed a strategic partnership with axle weighing and load monitoring specialist Axtec.

Chris Coleman, TWS Project Manager, says that by installing Axtec products, TWS can help waste companies meet CoR obligations through accurate weighing that reduces axle overloads risk.

“CoR ensures everyone in the supply chains shares compliance responsibility, meaning it’s a shared interest to ensure all vehicles leaving waste depots comply with legislation,” Chris says.

He adds that Axtec products facilitate this compliance by providing reliable vehicle load information in real-time while waste collectors perform their day-to-day operations.

“Axtec has been operating in the weighing space since 1991 and that experience allows it to consistently develop quality products that ensure maximum return on every truck journey without risking overloads,” Chris says.

According to Chris, Axtec’s first product was a dynamic axle weighbridge, which transport and waste management companies use to charge dropoffs by weight.

“As the weighbridge is certified for commercial, public and enforcement use, a number of government agencies responsible for enforcing CoR have installed their own weighbridge as a monitoring device,” Chris says.

The Axtec dynamic weighbridge automatically weighs all vehicles entering the premises, including those with abnormal loads, and determines both individual axle and gross vehicle loads.

“A six-axle articulated lorry can be weighed in under 40 seconds, so it’s great for maintaining streamlined processes and enhancing efficiency,” Chris says.

Following the dynamic axle weighbridge, Chris says Axtec continued to innovate, introducing the onboard axle load indicator in 2007. He adds that the system provides real-time weighing information to drivers of waste vehicles from 3.5-tonne van-based derivatives through to 26-tonne and 32-tonne rigids.

“Axtec OnBoard provides the driver with information on axle and gross vehicle loads via a very simple, easy-to-read, colour-coded bar graph display,” Chris says.

“Visual and audible warnings can prompt the driver when overloads are present, while load data is simultaneously written to the built-in logger and transmitted to a tracker system.”

Chris adds that the colour touchscreen automatically displays images from rear-view or side-mounted cameras, and can be set to dim when the vehicle is in motion.

“All of these functions take place with absolutely no input from the driver, so there are no unnecessary distractions,” he says.

“Since May 2018, TWS has installed and calibrated over 30 units for customers from large waste organisations to state government utilities and local government.”

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Highly intensive tunnels: Sacyr and WTT

Waste Management Review speaks with Carlos Gros Isla, Sacyr Environment, and Sean Galdermans, Waste Treatment Technologies, about Sacyr’s new high capacity in-vessel composting facility.

Composting, once considered the domain of hippies and eco- friendly farmers, has become a booming billion-dollar industry.

While public and private investment in technologically innovative equipment and facilities have a traceable history on a global level, the Australian organics market is still somewhat in its infancy.

That said, the tide is turning, with a significant number of Australian councils embarking on separate food and garden organic waste (FOGO) collections.

On behalf of eight Victorian councils, for example, the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) negotiated a contract to facilitate kerbside FOGO collection in 2016.

Increasing the recovery of organic waste is one of four key strategic objectives set down in MWRRG’s 2016 Implementation Plan. To achieve this, MWRRG developed an organics processing network through collective procurement contracts in the northwest, southeast and east.

Sacyr Environment Australia, which operates a state of the art composting facility in Melbourne’s Dandenong South, emerged as a viable option for MWRRG’s South East network.

Sacyr Environment Australia signed a contract with MWRRG in 2017. The facility, which runs on Waste Treatment Technologies (WTT) equipment and processes, opened in May this year.

With a capacity to process 120,000 tonnes of organic waste each year, the indoor composting facility is the most advanced of its type in Australia.

When asked why the Sacyr facility has been dubbed the most advanced in Australia, Carlos Gros Isla, Sacyr Environment Australian Business Manage, says while he is hesitant to make comparisons, he has a good grasp on current capacity and innovation.

“People often want to make grand statements such as, ‘this is the biggest building in the world’, and that can be embarrassing,” he says.

“It’s not rocket science. It’s still composting, so comparing our facility to other industrial facilities wouldn’t be fair. But in terms of the composting industry, we could say it is the most advanced as a whole.”

THE EUROPEAN MODEL

According to Carlos, the facility has gained recognition because it functions as a whole package.

He says however that because he and project partner Sean Galdermans, WTT Australia Bid and Project Manager, are both Europeans, the praise can feel awkward.

Carlos adds that processes that appear innovative in Australia are par for the course in Europe.

“This is a pretty standard package in Europe, and has been for the last 20 years, but it’s important to note that it’s not as through Australia is really behind. This technology just simply wasn’t needed before,” he says.

Given the availability of land, Carlos says landfill was not traditionally viewed as a problem in Australia.

“Plus, because they didn’t have to, councils had no incentive to pay additional gate fees and invest in new quality facilities,” he says.

Carlos says the market is changing however, with Sacyr identifying Australia as a market full of new opportunities.

Sean expresses similar sentiments and says that since arriving in Australia two years ago, he has seen a rise in interesting tenders and hot opportunities.

“I think legislation in Australia has been very slow. Regulators haven’t been pushing for the right developments,” he says.

“The Australian population is knocking on government’s doors and saying, what are you doing? All the countries a round us are investing in these new processes, so why aren’t we?”

Sean says the organics and wider recycling movement is now a mainstream conversation.

“Australia has been coping with the luxury problem of space, and as a result, used to landfill the majority of waste into old coal mines. An out of sight, out of mind mentality,” he says.

“That is the music of yesterday, Australians want to focus on the future.”

Sean adds that over the past five to ten years, many councils have made poor investment decisions.

“The problem is that in the waste sector you’re always talking about large sums of money, and when those projects fail, people develop distrust,” he says.

One of the reasons WTT decided to invest in Australia, Sean says, is that the market needed successful stories and high quality products.

“We felt that with over 25 years of experience and over 130 reference facilities, which have a combined throughput capacity of 7.3 million tonnes per annum, we could contribute to this transition and reduce the amount of organics going to landfill significantly.”

COMPOST IN DANDENONG

The Dandenong facility is not the first collaboration between Sacyr and WTT. One of Sacyr’s flagship facilities in Spain was developed using WTT technology, and, according to Carlos, has been operating for almost 15 years.

“There are not many companies that can make the high-quality in- vessel or tunnel composting facilities WTT can,” he says.

“Composting is a very simple idea, but there are huge difference between an average and good composting tunnel.”

Given Sacyr’s long-term contract with MWRRG, Carlos says seemingly small differences in design and process controls can make a big impact.

“Sacyr is very focused on providing for clients specific needs, so to be honest, if a council required a simple composting facility in a rural area, WTT wouldn’t be our first point of call,” he says.

“However, when a client tells us that high quality is their main focus, and that they are willing to pay associated gate fees, which was the case with MWRRG, WTT’s technology is the obvious choice.”

Once Sacyr had confirmed its contract with MWRRG, WTT was engaged to construct the facility’s in- vessel composting system and air and water management process.

Sean says the contract was of standard scope for WTT.

“While over the last seven years, WTT has started to adapt further processes, such as mechanical pre- and post-treatment systems, I would say in-vessel composting, anaerobic digestion and air/water treatment systems is where our core competence lays,” he says.

According to Carlos, Sacyr designed the facility to operate as close to the centre of collections’ gravity as possible.

“When you build a facility in regional areas, while the initial costs are lower, each link in the chain ends up incurring significant transport costs,” he says.

“Sacyr’s idea was to build a facility in close proximity to councils, ultimately constructing the facility within a pre- existing building.”

Carlos says Sacyr was engaged by MWRRG because the group wanted to explore the capabilities of a new market player.

“Sacyr had already built a desalination plant in Western Australia, so we were engaged in the Australian water business. But in terms of our waste division, this was our first Australian project,” he says.

On the otherhand, WTT had been involved in a number of Australian projects since opening its subsidiary office in 2018, including facilities in Wogamia and Kembla Grange NSW for SOILCO and a REMONDIS facility in Port Macquarie

AEROBIC DESIGN

After material enters the Sacyr facility, Carlos says it runs through a four-step process.

“The first step is pre-treatment or decontamination. At this stage we remove anything that shouldn’t be in the green bin or is not organic,” he says.

“From there we sieve, cut and mix the material to create a homogenous mixture. We ensure it is spongy and of the right size so it can be degraded to optimum levels in the in-vessel tunnels.”

The next stage, Carlos says, is the actual composting. He adds that in Australia, the EPA regulates a high level of pasteurisation.

“The actual composting happens in two different stages. The first is fermentation to achieve the required pasteurisation, which runs for 72 consecutive hours above a certain temperature threshold,” he says.

“After we’ve achieved the pasteurisation criteria, the material is taken to the compost tunnels, before it is transferred to the maturation hall for further curing.”

The Dandenong compost tunnels, Sean says, induce a highly intensive composting process to maximize organic breakdown.

“By controlling the temperature, oxygen and moisture content of each individual tunnel at all times, we’re able to tailer a recipe for each batch, and provide our client – the operator – with maximum flexibility and ease of operation,” he says.

Given the complexity of WTT’s technology, Sean says the company likes to function as a one-stop-shop.

“Instead of delivering a package, showing what it can do and leaving, we like to be involved on a long term basis to make sure clients feel comfortable with the technology,” he says.

While the facility is currently running smoothly, Carlos admits there were some teething problems.

“Both companies tried to adopt a design that has worked for us in Europe, but the reality is with waste you never know what you will receive,” he says.

After a number of trials, Carlos says the team developed a system suitable for the material it receives. He adds that because Sacyr recognises the added value of WTT’s experience, the two organisations were in constant contact throughout the process.

Sean says WTT’s knowledge centre worked to facilitate communication.

“WTT can essentially log into the facility 24 hours a day and see what the operators see, which means we can read the information, feed it back into the system and troubleshoot,” he says.

“Combined with the client’s operational team, it’s really a golden combination.”

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This vast land: West-Trans

Andrew McKinna, West-Trans National Sales Manager, explains how West-Trans’ dog trailer and hooklift combinations help mitigate transport cost and ease the tyranny of distance.

Regional communities face a number of waste management challenges, notably access to recycling markets and expansive distances between remote towns, waste processing facilities and landfills.

To avoid associated fuel costs and limit driver backtracking, rogue operators have been known to cart overloaded waste bins, in breach of vehicle mass limit legislation.

Andrew McKinna, West-Trans National Sales Manager, says while breaking Heavy Vehicle National Law is never acceptable, the challenge of rising transport costs is very real for the waste industry.

“Waste infrastructure is often pushed to the periphery and not well placed within wider transport and freight networks. This means transporting material from a local transfer station to a metropolitan recycling facility can be costly and even unviable,” he says.

“Additionally, as existing accessible infrastructure begins to reach capacity and the end of its life, those costs are likely to rise, with the risk of illegal dumping and stockpiling rising alongside them.”

According to Andrew, long-term infrastructure and market development solutions are needed to fully address the issue. He adds however that West-Trans’ built-in tri-axle dog trailer and hooklift combinations can facilitate relief in the meantime, with the addition of a dog trailer allowing operators to cart multiple bins at once.

“West-Trans offers custom built dog trailers as a matched combination to our HL20 and HL20A hooklifts, with both tipping trailer and simple rail-and-lock-trailer options available,” Andrew says.

“Drivers simply lift the first bin onto the truck, reverse back to the dog trailer, then pick up the second bin, lock both bins, reconnect the trailer and hydraulics and drive away. The set-up caused daily drop-off numbers to double for multiple operators.”

Andrew says that when a vehicle has to travel several hours between the generation point and facility drop-off, investing an extra 10 minutes to fit a second bin far outweighs the cost and time required to run multiple trips.

“The productivity benefits of the dog trailer hooklift combination allow waste companies to fulfil large contracts across vast areas, mitigating Australia’s infamous tyranny of distance,” he says.

“With a fuel burn of roughly 2.5 kilometres per litre, it doesn’t take long for the economics of a dog trailer to add up.”

West-Trans manufactures a range of fit-for-purpose dog trailers capable of carrying multiple bin sizes. Andrew adds that all custom trailers can be supplied with a swing away west-transcover tarp tower system.

“Drivers never need to climb onto their vehicle to secure a load after our tarping system is installed, which enhances safety and streamlines operations,” Andrew says.

“Additionally, our user-friendly cab gives operators the ability to control everything from inside the vehicle including weighing and reloading.”

Andrew says West Trans’ hooklifts are equally operator friendly, with 29-tonne lifting capacities and both fixed and articulated models available.

“West-Trans’ hooklifts are constructed with high tensile structural steel, using the latest available manufacturing technologies and production techniques,” he says.

“The geometric design keeps the lifting hook close to the rear driver when lifting, which improves lift performance and truck stability, while the rugged billet steel hook is secure yet easily placed from the driver’s seat.”

All HL20 and HL20A hooklifts feature fabricated bin rests, billet steel bin locks and standard hydraulic tipping frame locks. According to Andrew, this makes West-Trans hooklifts some of the most durable on the Australian market.

“West-Trans has been operating in Australia for over 25 years, and in that time, has developed a deep understanding the unique requirements of an Australian environment,” Andrew says.

“With a combination of tough engineering and clever geometry, we build strong equipment that’s built to last.”

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Compost by the river: SOILCO

Charlie Emery, SOILCO General Manager, speaks to Waste Management Review about SOILCO’s plans to build the largest organics recycling facility in the NSW Northern Rivers region.

The NSW Northern Rivers region is perhaps best known for its Pacific beaches, scenic drives and dramatic valleys surrounded by rivers and wildlife. Home to tourist hubs such as Tweed Head, Byron Bay and Minyon Falls, by 2021 the coastal region will also be home to one of Australia’s latest organic recycling facilities.

As early adopters of the NSW Government’s Love Food Hate Waste program, Tweed Shire Council is committed to proactive food waste reduction and recycling initiatives.

As part of this commitment, the council has commissioned a state-of-the-art organics recycling facility in Stotts Creek. The composting facility will be the largest of its kind in the Northern Rivers, processing nearly 25,000 tonnes of organic waste each year.

SOILCO, a NSW organics recycling business, has been tasked with facility design, construction and operations.

According to Charlie Emery, SOILCO General Manager, once commissioned, the facility will complement council’s recently introduced food and garden organics (FOGO) kerbside collection program.

Since FOGO collections began, Charlie says the region has seen a 20 per cent reduction in organic waste to landfill. This, he says, illustrates that residents are willing, and even motivated, to engage with the closed-loop processes when given the opportunity.

Charlie says collected FOGO is currently transferred for processing at a facility located outside the local government area, meaning council must deal with additional logistics and associated transport costs.

“Once the SOILCO facility is up and running, council will be able to process its own FOGO, right next to the existing resource recovery centre. This will reduce transport and logistics costs and further streamline council services,” he says.

Following a competitive tender process, SOILCO was awarded the Stotts Creek contract in July.

“Like other progressive regions in the state, Tweed Shire Council has a long-term goal of achieving zero waste, which resonates with SOILCO’s overarching mission and current operations in the Illawarra and South Coast regions of NSW,” Charlie says.

The Stotts Creek Organics Recycling Facility will function as an enclosed composting facility, meaning SOILCO will construct a processing building alongside multiple aerated composting tunnels, biofilter and product storage infrastructure.

“The model is based on upgrades to our own facilities in Kembla Grange and Nowra, where we used Waste Treatment Technologies’ technology for positive aeration in an enclosed environment,” Charlie says.

“This allows us to improve processing controls and monitor the material to ensure compost production compliance.”

While organics compliance is a hot topic in NSW, following the EPA’s October reiteration of its controversial 2018 Mixed Waste Organic Outputs decision, Charlie says composting of source-separated materials has been largely unaffected.

That said, the EPA maintains strict regulatory rules for the production and application of compost derived from FOGO, meaning SOILCO’s facility has to consider decontamination and provide rigid process controls.   

Charlie says through the installation of a pre-sort and aerated composting tunnels, SOILCO can produce clean, compliant and nutrient-rich products.

While still in the planning and approval phase, Charlie says SOILCO has already identified existing urban and agricultural end markets for their product.

“There’s a large demand for quality compost in the region, so we’re confident in the facility’s long-term economic viability,” he says.

“As time goes on, and the benefits of food waste diversion receive wider recognition, we are sure to see an increase in facility throughput and additional capacity has been designed for.”

In addition to existing end markets, Charlie says SOILCO is looking to work with local businesses and large generators of food, such as hotels, of which there are many in the heavily visited region.

He says SOILCO operates food waste collection services out of their other NSW facilities, and intends to provide commercial collection to businesses in the Northern Rivers area as well.

“That way we’re not just capturing existing tonnage through the municipal contact but creating further commercial opportunities for food waste diversion through a system we have already established,” Charlie says.

“This provides an opportunity for local businesses to participate in the composting process and creates a real sense of community.”

After lodging its development application in November, Charlie says SOILCO is working towards a two-year design and construction timeline.

“The facility is set to be operational by mid-2021, after which, SOILCO will operate the facility for 10 years, before transferring ownership back to council,” he says.

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Team hookloader: Palfinger

Waste Management Review speaks with the Palfinger hookloader team about working together to achieve maximum payloads.

Industrial conglomerate Sime Darby’s recent acquisition of Gough Group’s New Zealand and Australian operations led to a change of ownership for hydraulic lifting and handling company Palfinger.

The change came at a time of growth for the Australian arm of the company, which has been investing in and expanding its hookloader capabilities over the past three years.

According to Glen Woodrow, Palfinger Queensland and Northern Territory Account Manager, Palfinger’s Australian hookloader operations have traditionally played second fiddle to the company’s higher-profile crane manufacturing business.

“Globally Palfinger is renowned for its cranes, and while our hookloaders have always been just as structurally and operationally impressive, it’s only over the last few years that we have dedicated time and resources to grow this vital part of the Palfinger Australia business,” Glen says.

“The waste industry has been central to growth for us. Additionally, working with councils on tailored transport and waste solutions has really expanded our knowledge of the sector.”   

Palfinger brought Glen on as National Account Manager Hooks and Skips three years ago to expand its hookloader operations. He says that prior to his appointment, Palfinger didn’t have a dedicated hookloader team.

“I immediately worked with the developed hookloader business plan, which the team has been successfully using ever since,” he says.

“The central ideas are collaboration and knowledge transfer, which helps us deliver maximum payloads for clients, and as a result, maintain long-term relationships. Tailoring the business plan to suit both demographic and geographic demands has been part of the key to our success.”

To continue this momentum Palfinger Australia has expanded its national footprint, with two additional team members joining the business over the past two years.

They are Stuart Cameron, who oversees Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia, and Seth Ozbas, who joined the team four months ago to run New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Palfinger’s Western Australian interests are supported by Perth-based Palfinger crane salesman Mick Stone, completing the national field coverage.

The four account managers work closely together and for every unit sold, produce a detailed specification and legal loading sheet that provides clients with a complete understanding of each build.

“We debrief weekly on what went well with the sale, potential room for improvement and overall customer satisfaction. This means other team members can learn from our experience and have similar wins themselves,” Glen says.

Glen says Palfinger’s customer engagement in the preparatory stage is another critical success factor of Palfinger’s hookloader business plan.

“We work hard to make sure that when we deliver a hookloader, it’s right the first time. It’s a very bespoke process with considerable research involved – rarely are two Palfinger hookloaders the same,” Glen says.

“I like to think we turn customers into clients.”

Stuart says an increased ability to manage national accounts is a key benefit of having dedicated teams in each state.

“When a supplier’s operations aren’t centralised, problems can arise, such as red tape surrounding where an order was originally placed and where the servicing will occur. But for us, this isn’t a problem. Palfinger always has an expert available to manage the situation in every state,” he says.

Stuart says this is further supported by an extensive list of 37 fully trained service partners located throughout Australia.

Before joining the Palfinger team, Stuart worked for another hookloader manufacturer. He says while there are many good products on the market, Palfinger’s hookloaders stand out for their durability and strength.

“I know the market well and can confidently say that our top-quality European products are the best hookloaders available,” Stuart says.

“I was recently involved in fitting a 20-year-old Palfinger hookloader to a brand-new Scania because the hookloader was still operating at an optimum level. Palfinger can provide that kind of longevity.”

Seth, the newest member of the hookloader team, expressed similar sentiments, saying he is impressed with the quality of the product and streamlined nature of Palfinger’s operations.

He adds that while he covers the entire New South Wales and ACT region, he spends most of his time in Sydney’s western suburbs.

“Most waste and recycling companies are in Sydney, so I have spent the last few months meeting with clients and cold calling potential prospects,” Seth says.

“I want to make sure our clients feel comfortable to call me whenever they have a challenging opportunity, so I can arrange a quote on a new product or organise a service on existing equipment.”

According to Seth, a key benefit of the multipronged Palfinger sales strategy is the ability to quickly access all previous sales and equipment data.

“When I’m speaking with a client who needs specific information about a product, I am able to call the responsible person who provides the information straight away, rather than wasting time scanning through documents,” he says.

“The team is really invested in working together to grow and expand Australian hookloader market.”

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