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Outsourcing in the Industrial Wastewater Industry
by William Paul, Project Manager, Environmental Systems, Inc.
March 1996 issue of Mid-America Commerce & Industry

In the wastewater treatment industry, Outsourcing is commonly referred to as contract operations. In general, most businesses have utilized Outsourcing for various aspects in their companies. Outsourcing in a facility could range from professional consulting to janitorial services; industrial wastewater pretreatment Outsourcing will be discussed here from that standpoint.

Operations
The most overlooked area in most companies is the daily operation and maintenance of the wastewater facility. Although the pretreatment area is the most scientific and sophisticated operation in many facilities, the least qualified persons are often placed in this area as operations personnel. It is not uncommon for personnel to be placed in the "waste treatment area" as a form of demotion or punishment. The lack of technical knowledge, training, and experience can lead to the shutdown of the plant. Or, the improper operation of the pretreatment facility could result in EPA fines, surcharges and the loss of production.

Staffing
Outsourcing can provide the facility with qualified personnel. In most cases the company lacks the qualified person to hire personnel to effectively operate and evaluate the equipment necessary to keep the facility in compliance with changing regulations.

It is not unusual for the Plant Manager or the Plant Mechanical Engineer to hire and direct the pretreatment personnel. These positions are held by competent personnel in the manufacturing end of the operation. However, they typically lack the education and experience in the environmental and industrial waste treatment field to effectively evaluate the personnel and the operation of the facility.

Unqualified operators and managers can lead to disastrous situations and often times fines for compliance violations. Outsourcing to an industrial pretreatment contract operations company will minimize risks and potential problems. These contractors specialize in the hiring and training of competent, qualified, operations personnel.

Outsourcing Parameters
Outsourcing could range from industrial wastewater pretreatment operations with limited maintenance responsibilities, to full turn-key pretreatment operations and maintenance-including chemical purchasing and inventory control.

A company that employs a single full-time operator is within the lowest range of facilities that would be feasible to outsource the industrial pretreatment facility operation.

Industrial plants that have multi-shift and larger, more complex systems are more in line for Outsourcing due to the cross training of the outsourced companies to have an operator and maintenance person all in one. This cross training is the primary reason Outsourcing companies can perform the operations more effectively.

Any company whose responsibility is manufacturing or production may not be able to devote the time or personnel needed to keep abreast of the new treatment methods.

In conclusion, outsourcing can assist companies by providing qualified operations personnel and innovative treatment technologies for their industries. They can ensure that your company's wastewater is meeting regulatory parameters today ... and as future regulations continue to be mandated.