Wastewater Compliance Techniques for Food Processors
Food production has always been a demanding and competitive process. Executives are constantly challenged by slow product development cycles, competition from healthier alternatives and even food fraud.
In today’s climate, producers now worry they can be perceived as environmentally and socially irresponsible, resulting in some retail chains refusing to stock their brands until they make often intensive and expensive changes.
Many producers are being hit by a second blow to their profit margins due to failing and overcapacity Publicly Operated Treatment Works (POTWs). Wastewater previously discharged with little
care may now be subject to volume and contaminant surcharges as POTWs repair infrastructure and struggle to meet increased EPA discharge regulations.
Finally, treatment system operators with decades of experience are retiring and their tribal knowledge of how to run their antiquated treatment system retires with them. This leaves owners and executives wondering how to replace that knowledge base and ensure they remain in compliance.
In the face of increased regulatory control and rising environmental concerns about wastewater, food producers are looking for cost-effective ways to stay in compliance while keeping operating costs low. Anguil’s four-step approach to industrial wastewater treatment challenges can help producers address economical, operational and compliance challenges.
Solution in Action
Nailing Down the Requirements
Anguil Environmental provides highly engineered environmental equipment and service solutions that solve complex industrial air and water challenges. When we are aiding companies with water projects, we follow a very simple but effective process to deliver systems tailored to each customer’s specific needs.
The first step is to understand the business case.
We collaborate with the client to understand their challenges, and determine the project needs and objectives. We gather benchmark data to assist with alignment of solutions that offer the best return on investment (ROI), then work with the customer to understand their decision process and criteria to ensure we can check all their boxes. For example, is our customer willing to spend more on controls and automation to minimize operator involvement or to better deploy staff in other areas of the facility?
In this case, a client was looking at TSS surcharge costs of $40,000 per quarter and a surcharge of $20,000 per quarter for acidic discharge waters. The client was essentially looking at $240,000 in increased operating costs per year. BOD did not receive a surcharge, and overall water volume costs were negligible.
The second step is to explore and validate all treatment and operational processes in the Anguil lab.
Anguil validates all potential treatment and process options that align with the customer objectives. A client wanted to determine a solution for TSS removal below discharge requirements. We started by asking the client to send a wastewater sample to our inhouse wet lab to validate potential treatment protocols. We determined pH / polymer protocol resulted in TSS removals well below the discharge requirements. Hence, we determined a simple scheme could meet the customer’s goals.
After bench-testing provided us with a viable treatment option, we generated a simple Process Flow Diagram (PFD) to illustrate the primary equipment integrated into the treatment train. This train included the appropriate equalization and buffer tanks, pump logistics, clarifier, and a filter press for solids handling. In our discussion with the client, we offered additional options including:
- Ballasted flocculation versus straight clarification to lessen the overall footprint
- A rotary vacuum drum for dewatering instead of a filter press to lessen the burden on facility personnel and lower the liquid content (weight) of solids being shipped off site
Even though the customer appreciated the pros of each option, after reviewing the capital cost increase, the client decided to remain with the original approach.
The third step is a pilot system onsite to test waters in-situ:
With the client satisfied with our lab trials, we asked if they required a pilot system to validate the treatment approach insitu. When asked for our opinion on the value added, we stated we were confident with the treatment approach and market proven technologies. In this case a pilot study would not bring a great deal of value.
Putting it All Together
The final step in the process is the Commercial Deployment.
After completion of lab testing, discussion of various equipment options and testing against the business case, Anguil provided a firm proposal for a treatment system which would meet the treatment efficacy and business needs of the customer. The proposal contained detailed nuts and bolts information on the treatment system, estimated operational costs and options for installation, start-up and commissioning. The flexible approach allowed the customer to choose the package that best suited their needs. Anguil provided installation supervision while their local mechanical and electrical partners were contracted directly by the customer to install the equipment. Anguil performed a 3-day start-up and training. Anguil provided final “as-built” drawings within 2-weeks of startup and shipped spare parts the client requested. Additionally, Anguil’s Aftermarket and Service group was proactively in touch, ready to provide long term system and parts support.
Anguil followed a better approach to solving complex water challenges, which started with listening to the client’s needs and business case. Anguil advocated an efficient process that would provide the client with the information they wanted to make an informed decision.
- TSS surcharges had risen 3x what they experienced 3 years prior
- Without reduction, operational costs and compliance could prove negative to business growth and profitability
The lab trials at Anguil quickly validated the most cost-effective approach to reduce Total Suspended Solids (TSS)
- 5-gallon sample sent to Anguil wet-lab for testing was ideal to determine equipment sizing and validate capital costs of the equipment
- Lab trials allowed Anguil to optimize the chemistry and extrapolate an operational expense for the entire water treatment system
Anguil leveraged a Process Flow Diagram (PFD) to illustrate the equipment in the primary approach, while also showing options to increase automation, lower resources for solids handling, minimize moisture content in solids, and reduce overall footprint.
- General Arrangement (GA) drawing allowed client to understand process flow
- GA allowed Anguil to offer different options to client, such as Rotary Vacuum Drum vs. Filter Press for solids handling
- Offering options allowed the client to make an informed decision on the system capabilities and system price point based on their decision criteria.
Anguil Project Manager (PM) led internal Project Launch and engineering completed necessary drawings within two weeks for customer to review and sign-off on.
- PM launched internal kick-off meeting within 48 hours of receipt of PO
- Nine people from nine departments attended to define and own their respective responsibilities
Anguil provided Installation Supervision over local contractors, who were responsible for installing equipment and handling electrical wiring to panel, equipment and pump skids.
- Anguil provided engineering drawings to local contractors familiar with the client site to bid on mechanical, electrical
and piping/plumbing of system.
- All Anguil skids were self-contained, including all electrical and piping, so connection could come to a j-box or single inlet/outlet on skid
The final treatment system offered an ROI in line with management’s criteria. The system was also designed with additional treatment capacity to handle 30% growth in business and the resulting impact that would have on the treatment system. Although we did not pursue BOD in our treatment approach, we did discuss how we would determine viable treatment technologies to address it.