Somebody once said, there are “decades where nothing happens, and weeks where decades happen.” Whilst that person wasn’t talking about the weeks that preceded the UK’s lockdown, they might as well have been. In a matter of days, Britons watched on as a series of unimaginable impositions were made upon their everyday lives.
For some businesses, the lockdown period was equally as dramatic. Particularly for companies involved in managing on-site water and wastewater, the speed of the lockdown was hard to account for. As a result, some companies were forced to turn off their water and wastewater systems entirely, with many others simply unable to deliver the requisite maintenance and monitoring needed during those difficult few weeks.
At Veolia Water Technologies UK, we wanted to find out how those involved in managing on-site water and wastewater were coping. That’s why we put together a survey, which we recently sent out to our customer base and beyond. The questionnaire, which was available for completion online, looked to identify how water treatment had been affected during the lockdown. What’s more, the survey sought to learn whether modern, remote monitoring solutions could have better assisted companies during the period.
Respondents to the survey ranged between professions, but over a third were involved in the healthcare industry. Staff at laboratories for scientific research were also well accounted for, comprising around 17% of respondents. In general, the majority (61%) of those surveyed worked in organisations with more than 250 employees. Finally, whilst only 13% of respondents had sole responsibility for the management of water and wastewater on their sites, nearly half (49%) worked as part of a team that shared this responsibility.
We wanted to know if the severity of the ongoing pandemic and its related restrictions had affected how organisations were able to manage their sites. To this end, we found that 39% of those asked believed it had, with a further 26% still not sure. Furthermore, only 74% of respondents claimed that their organisation had a business continuity plan in place during the time of the pandemic.
Perhaps one of the most surprising insights was that nearly 63% of those surveyed were not using any remote monitoring services within their operations. In fact, nearly 46% of respondents said their companies had never even considered implementing the technology.
Given the capability of remote monitoring solutions, there exists a real opportunity for those managing water and wastewater facilities to incorporate more innovative technologies into their operations. Doing so could help to better protect the site’s ability to continue operations in the case of a future lockdown.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, modern solutions, such as our AQUAVISTA™ digital services platform allows companies to operate remote monitoring of their water and waste water systems, from anywhere in the world. As such, remote monitoring services aren’t reliant on an on-site body to function.
Specifically tailored to the client’s requirements, our AQUAVISTA™ digital services platform offers real-time, 24/7 monitoring and direct access via a secure, private portal using a smartphone, tablet or PC. What’s more, thanks to its suite of intelligent water process applications and algorithms, the platform can record accurate on-site data, before analysing and presenting it to companies through a series of fully-customisable dashboards. With this more enriched overview of on-site performance, companies can make better decision-making and generate new efficiencies in their operations.
To this end, nearly 58% of those asked agreed that the ability to remotely monitor performance of equipment around the clock would benefit their business. Similarly, over 36% of interviewees agreed that real time control and performance optimisation was an advantage, with over 40% also identifying automated report generation as a significant positive too.
This year has indeed been unprecedented, and all of us within the supply chain have had to deal with challenges on a scale we have never seen before. However, the pandemic has also served to demonstrate the importance of business continuity planning, and that there exists a real opportunity to modernise our way of working with solutions that can have a positive impact now – and in the future.
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About the Author
William has a background of working with a wide range of industrial, public sector and municipal customers. William's career in the water sector started with a start up services business focused on working with commercial, industrial and public sector organisations to manage their water and wastewater usage, costs and environmental compliance. Having grown and developed this business for 5 years William then joined Veolia Water Technologies in 2015 to focus on growing its wastewater technologies activities in the Municipal market. In 2019 William took responsibility for leading Veolia's Municipal Services Business as well as its Digital Services Business across all sectors in the UK. With a strong focus on commercial and service innovation William has been responsible for a number of development projects including involvement in the development of Veolia’s global AQUAVISTA platform of real time control and optimization services.