Global Wetland Technology – progress near and far

Patrick HawesSenior Consultant Patrick Hawes blogs about Global Wetland Technology and how ARM brings the best available wetland technology to the UK by collaborating with international partners

Global Wetland Technology (GWT) is a consortium of companies who have been operating independently for almost 20 years in the Environmental Engineering sector with particular specialisation in waste water treatment and water pollution control by Constructed Wetlands. This collection of 11 companies represents the greatest body of knowledge and breadth of experience in constructed wetland technology around the world.  All of the member companies have extensive international project experience; collectively GWT has implemented over 1000 wetland treatment systems in 30 different countries.

GWTThe purpose of its foundation in 2012 was to provide a Reed Bed/Wetland water treatment technology ‘centre of excellence’ for clients around the world and to broaden knowledge and awareness of the capabilities of this technology, also raising its profile within the major international consultancies. ARM Ltd is one of the founder members of GWT and after three years since its formation it is interesting to see how GWT has progressed.

GWT

GWT members meeting in Nantes, 2012

Though we first gathered in 2012, in terms of administration, we were officially founded as an Association in October 2013 and have established and appointed members to key offices. Our principle of operation is based on developing agreements with selected commercial partner organisations around the world who offer local operating knowledge, so GWT gains access to their markets and local knowledge and they gain access to the full resources of GWT. We are currently focusing on burgeoning markets such as China, Eastern Europe and India at present though there are no limits set. There is also significant flexibility within the association which allows members to work with each other on individual projects around the globe retaining the ultimate objective of widening the application of this technology. Clearly, there are also commercial drivers for individual members. We have received project enquiries from all around the globe including Russia, Bosnia, Greece, Palestine, India and China to name a few.

One of the biggest benefits we have seen as members is increased levels of communication between ourselves, including much closer cooperation and sharing of knowledge and individual experiences. Essentially, we provide each other with a library of knowledge and application experience using different wetland technologies in wide ranging climates, cultures and economies across a broad range of waste waters. We work together to develop bespoke, often novel, solutions blending our individual areas of expertise.

The UK’s first Phragmifiltre system under construction at Hulland Ward.

The UK’s first Phragmifiltre system under construction at Hulland Ward.

For ARM Ltd this has led to projects such as the Cowdenbeath Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) treatment system completed last year using vertical flow aerated reed bed technology and the full sewage treatment ‘Phragmifiltre’ system currently under construction at Severn Trent Waters’ Hulland Ward site which is approaching completion. Both of these bring in new applications of new technologies into the UK and both of which are generating considerable interest for ARM Ltd within both the municipal and industrial sectors.

To find out more about GWT and its members, please visit their website at http://www.globalwettech.com/

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Process Guarantees – why they matter!

Stephen Allen ARM LtdBusiness Development Manager, Stephen Allen discusses what sets us apart from our competitors.

It is commonplace when buying a product that a guarantee or warranty is offered alongside it in case of damage or fault. Whether it is a car or for the provision of a service or facility, you feel more confident in a purchase if it is backed with a fail-safe. Although many associate guarantees and warranties with retail goods, constructed wetlands and its associated technology is no different.

If you ask any member of our team what sets ARM apart from its competitors each would point to a number of different things. For me the fundamental difference is that we back any wetland treatment system we design and construct with a cast iron guarantee.

Every business is competing with like-minded companies offering similar services but one way to improve the perceived value of a product is with the process guarantee. It not only sends a message that you have confidence in your product and will stand by it, but it reduces the risk in the mind of your potential clients.

This can be an attractive prospect when considering investing in a constructed wetland system, with the primary need often becoming reliability over cost. In fact, many of our potential clients are as equally interested in the guarantee as in the technology itself.

As a business we are constantly investing in research and development to innovate new technologies which drives our competitive advantage as our products can be used in a wider range of industries.

With this fundamental market advantage over our competitors, to then guarantee the product makes simple business sense.

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My Year in Industry

We have a long history of working with Universities through collaborations, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and providing work placements for students to spend their year in industry with us. Our recent student- Shane Hopkins from Harper Adams University blogs about his experience with us.

DSC03114As part of my degree course at Harper Adams University I am required to do a year’s placement with an engineering company to get to grips with how a business works and how I can apply my course to the real world.

Even though my degree specialises in off-road vehicles, I liked the challenge of ARM and the scope of experience it could provide.

As the UK’s leading specialists in natural wastewater systems, I certainly took the plunge into the unknown but it has given me much needed experience.

My main role is in the research and development (R&D) department working on a method for cutting costs associated with the refurbishment of reed beds.  This has been extremely rewarding as I am helping pioneer new techniques and processes.

A main part of the research has involved exploring various methods of liquefying sludge, speaking to various companies for help in selection of equipment and how to best use it, putting together a method for judging whether a site is suitable for liquefying, and how to carry out the operation and processing anything left over.

Once fully developed, ARM will be able to make significant savings for clients who usually send sludge to landfill.

DSC03013In addition to R&D, my year in industry has provided me with experience working in all areas of the business, including design, construction and out in the field with the maintenance team.  Using CAD modelling software for rendering projects and drawing site plans, as well as ensuring a project site continues to operate and meet environmental consent has been part of the learning curve.

Although at university you are responsible for seeing your projects through from start to finish, it is different in the working environment and being able to tap into the team’s experience has enabled me to improve my project management skills and learn how to juggle multiple demands.

Working on my own project whilst helping on others has also improved my time management skills!

The variety of work I have been exposed to has provided insight into how a company works and what it is like to be involved in all the individual areas of a business.  This has helped me to understand what is being asked and what is needed.

As an insight into industry, I believe this experience will be invaluable and when complete, I will have developed a skill-set which can be easily transferred to my first step into full employment.

If you are interested in working at ARM as part of your Year in Industry, or working on one of our research projects as part of your Masters dissertation or PhD, please contact us.

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Our DNA

Tori SellersDirector, Tori Sellers talks about growing the business, our DNA and what makes us stand out from the rest.

Who are we? We started as an agricultural engineering company making agricultural equipment and then changed our focus completely into wastewater treatment. We’ve been in existence since 1947 but since the 80s, we have been purely focused on reed beds which are constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. We are the UK’s largest reed bed and wetland designer and constructor with a commitment to research and development (R&D).

2013 was a fantastic year for us. We had our highest number of reed bed projects resulting in prestigious award wins. It makes you think, what makes ARM, well ARM? What are we doing right and what could we do better?

I started the company on a program last year called Growth Accelerator. It is a match-funding government program to deliver training and coaching with the aim of doubling your business. It’s being delivered through our established PR company Kinetic.

The first part of the program was very interesting. We had an internal session asking the team who are we and what makes ARM special? Through these sessions with the team, brain storming and pulling together the views of each department to understand how they see ARM, we came up with our DNA, our core, our business. How we all internally make the business a success and how we should be seen externally by you, our customers.

ARM is WIKA – World Class, Innovative, Knowledgeable and Adaptable.

We are widely known as the largest reed bed company in the UK, and also have partnerships in Spain, Denmark, France, South Africa and Australia (so far).

We are a founding member of Global Wetland Technology and the Constructed Wetland Association. We present our R&D findings to peers from across the globe at seminars and conferences. To us this is best practice but when you really think about it it’s a privileged position to be in.

Our innovations in wetlands are continual and ground breaking. Installing the first potable sludge treatment system in the world and bringing FBA aerated reed beds to the UK with over 30 systems installed so far. We are just about to start on another UK first with French partners Epur Nature.

If there’s one thing that’s key to our success, it’s knowledge. We have a process team who have unrivaled knowledge on all types of wastewater treatments.

You have to adapt to survive and we do. We adapt to new markets and new technologies, internally ensuring the skill levels are the highest they can be and we adjust to our customers’ needs.

So why are we in business? What makes us stand out? To pioneer innovations in natural wastewater treatment solutions and we stand out because we are always one step ahead. We do not know of any other company who will guarantee their systems removal rates.

Is this how you see ARM? Our corporate image is extremely important and we value your feedback. Get in touch with us through Facebook – ARM Group Ltd or Twitter – @ARMLtd.

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FP7 funding secured for Autonomous Reed Bed Installation – ARBI

Patrick Hawes

ARM Consultant, Patrick Hawes introduces the new FP7 project that ARM is involved in.

Last year ARM along with four other SMEs and two research establishments were successful in securing funding for an FP7 Research for SMEs led research project, funded by the Research Executive Agency within the European Union.

Starting in September last year, the Autonomous Reed Bed Installation project (ARBI) will run for two years. Primarily the project is investigating the capacity of magnetic resonance (MR) to detect levels of clogging within reed beds and subsequently to develop a suitable probe for use in-situ in the field. This would enable measurement and ongoing monitoring of the degree to which a reed bed is clogged and how this is affecting its performance.

The ability to predict clogging rates and effects on water treatment capability will enable reed bed operators to plan refurbishment strategies and forecast budget requirements more accurately.

The primary parameters that govern the microbial mechanisms of action within reed beds are oxygen transfer and temperature. The first can be controlled by using aerated systems and the latter through heating. Increasing either of these parameters will enhance microbial activity and hence treatment performance. Improving microbial activity, however, can also raise biomass levels and thus clogging rates within the bed.

The ARBI project is looking at using the data generated from the MR probe to adjust aeration and heating within the reed bed to optimise the clogging rate against water treatment requirements. The adjustment of effluent delivery point is also being reviewed.

The final element of the project is to focus on commercialisation of these elements in the form of a ‘pre-packaged’ reed bed in a container which can be linked to other similar units expanding treatment capacity. The ARBI systems could be hired or purchased for temporary or permanent treatment situations and maintained/operated under a service agreement depending on the particular client requirements.

The mobile and flexible nature of these systems would be most attractive to small industrial applications, temporary treatment scenarios or housing developments. Although the fundamental technology developed from the project could be applied to larger schemes also.

The four SMEs and two research establishments involved in the ARBI Project are:

ARM Ltd, UK – SME,
Lab Tools, UK – SME,
Lightmain, UK – SME,
Nottingham Trent University, UK – Research Establishment,
Oxyguard, Denmark – SME,
Technosam, Romania – SME
Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain – Research Establishment.

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