Insuring Reliable Backup Process Water Supply in the Food & Beverage and Industrial Sectors

Backup Process Water Supply Reservoir - Size 110kl
Backup Process Water Supply Reservoir – Size 110kl

SBS Tanks™ Technical Sales Representative to the Waste Water, Food & Beverage and Process Water Industry sectors, Brian Wilson, explains why now, more than ever it is essential for businesses to plan and implement strategies for developing a reliable backup process water supply for their critical operations.

Consider this…

Business is booming. Your order books are full. The factory is running at full capacity and you are already struggling to supply your customers their product by the promise date. Then it happens! Your production supervisor phones to tell you that a municipal pipe has burst in your area and your process water supply will be down for at least 2 days.

What would you do?

If like most businesses, you are not prepared, then you start panicking. You are now facing at least 2 days down time that is going to cost you hundreds of thousands of Rand in penalties from your key customers.  Your reputation of being on time, every time is now at risk.Nervously, you pick up the phone and start spreading the bad news to everyone whose name is in that precious order book that you worked so hard to fill. You advise them that your production line is down and your deliveries are going to be at least 2 days later than promised. Finally, you get out your calculator and you start working out how much all of this is going to cost your bottom line.

On the other hand, if you were properly prepared with an emergency water management plan and had a properly calculated backup process water supply of stored municipal water or harvested rainwater your situation would be completely different. You would calmly tell the supervisor to shut down all non-essential water consuming operations, open the valve on your storage reservoir, energise the pressure pump and get back to work.  All this taking mere minutes and with a minimal interruption to your business.

A real life version of this scenario came about when the main water pipeline feeding Port Elizabeth burst in early August of 2012 causing panic and chaos. Water tank supplier Hydro Dynamics, who had in stock over 150 polyethylene storage tanks ranging from 500 to 5000 litres, was almost completely sold out within 4 hours of opening on the day of the catastrophe. They were inundated with calls and walk in customers as owners of businesses such as bakeries, car washes and super markets rushed to purchase as many tanks as possible in a vain attempt to collect the last drops of water. The entire business community was desperate as it seemed no one had a backup process water supply to keep their production lines going for what was predicted to be a three to four day outage. By the end of the day, there was not a tank left to purchase anywhere in the city. Luckily for those who did not get a tank in time, the water supply was restored in just over a day and life quickly got back to normal. But it could have been much different.

SBS Tanks™ Installed these rainwater harvesting reservoirs to be used as backup process water supply at a greenhouse facility.
SBS Tanks™ Installed these rainwater harvesting reservoirs to be used as backup process water supply at a greenhouse facility.

The reality that businesses and industry must face is that unfortunately, the water infrastructure in South Africa is, in most places old and inadequate. Burst pipes in older suburbs and industrial parks are becoming more and more of a common occurrence. The increased demand on aging services due to rapid growth on poorly designed and often under sized municipal bulk supply lines has been cited as a primary cause.

While most municipalities state that they will endeavour to supply you with water to continue essential operations this is not a guarantee. Therefore it is critical that forward thinking, proactive individuals and company executives consider backup process water supply systems as the next logical step in planning for their future growth and success.

It is best to start your planning by speaking to someone knowledgeable in assembling and implementing a plan to insure that your business remains open when the water supply is interrupted. A simple system and proper planning may cost you time and money initially but will rapidly pay for itself when your business continues operating while all those around you are suffering the pains of being without water.

Be sure to follow our blog, as the next posting will discuss some of the basic steps required to plan an emergency water backup system at your business or home.