In today’s global, interconnected world, it’s common to buy products produced anywhere on the globe. Japanese electronics. German automobiles. Irish beer. The examples go on and on. It has become so common that we don’t even give it a second thought. But in the case of diffused aeration, if you buy a system or critical parts made overseas and hope to save a few dollars, you may be making a costly mistake.
Biological wastewater treatment requires efficient delivery of oxygen to work properly. Wastewater treatment plants worldwide count on fine bubble aeration systems to supply the mixing and oxygen needed for their aerobic processes. When these critical systems break or don’t work properly, the results can be surprisingly expensive.
So, what’s really the issue?
Lesser-quality fine bubble aeration systems can encounter a number of problems:
- Inconsistent manufacturing quality: With overseas aeration systems, you never know what you’re getting. Why? Because overseas manufacturers don’t have to adhere to stringent quality and labor standards like U.S. manufacturers. Like everything else, you get what you pay for.
- Leaks between diffusers, headers and pipes: When this happens, you can shut down and fix the leaks, or compensate for the loss by increasing blower output, leading to higher energy costs and premature blower failure.
- Delays in obtaining replacement parts: It can often take weeks to obtain replacement components for overseas aeration systems. Meanwhile, your biological wastewater treatment system is down for the count.
Downtime costs can be astronomical
What happens when a fine bubble aeration system goes down? It’s not a pretty picture:
When the aeration system isn’t working, wastewater can’t be treated by the plant. When that happens, it can’t meet its permitted effluent levels. In this situation, the wastewater stream must be diverted or pumped to another location for treatment, which can be very expensive.
Back at the basin, where the aeration system is literally “dead in the water,” costs mount quickly:
- The basin must be drained, which can take several days.
- Next, it must be cleaned. Most basins are deep enough to be considered confined spaces by OSHA, requiring additional labor and equipment and increasing cleanup cost.
- The aeration system must be inspected. This can be a very time-consuming process, which is amplified for the various plants with many thousands of diffusers.
- New parts must be sourced, and the broken ones replaced. If parts are available, the aeration system can potentially be back up and running fairly quickly. However, if parts must be sourced from overseas suppliers, delays could stretch into multiple weeks.
- The basin must be refilled, and the aeration system tested and restarted.
The bottom line is that aeration system downtime can cost wastewater treatment plants a small fortune in maintenance costs and regulatory fines.
How to minimize aeration system downtime
With this much at stake, it makes sense to source your fine bubble aeration systems from the U.S., where manufacturers are held to a high standard of quality. Some manufacturers, like Aquarius Technologies, strive to go beyond these standards and ensure the highest quality and performance in even the toughest wastewater applications:
- All Aquarius Quantaer® Fine Bubble Aeration systems are robotically assembled for consistent, repeatable quality. All components are U.S. sourced.
- Diffuser holders are ultrasonically welded to the headers; Aquarius is the only aeration system manufacturer that uses this technique to provide a hermetic seal between the holder and the header. This technique fuses the holder and the headers into a single piece and eliminates an otherwise common source of leaks. Overseas competitors only glue the holders and headers together or use less consistent and reliable mechanical methods to join them.
- Aquarius Technologies offers in-house aeration system design services. Its staff has 150+ years of collective experience in the wastewater industry. This ensures that each customer’s designs are closely optimized to their unique application and needs.
- If components fail and need to be replaced, Aquarius can have the parts delivered via an overnight delivery service, so you can get back up and running faster. If a large-scale replacement of components is needed, Aquarius can modify its production schedule to accommodate emergency orders. This level of customer service is only feasible when you control the manufacturing, design, and support of an aeration system.
- In the 12 years that Aquarius Technologies has been producing fine bubble aeration systems, it has not had a single warranty claim on the piping, headers and diffuser holders.
“We take a conservative approach to aeration system design, so we can fulfill our mission of providing the highest quality diffused aeration systems. This has positioned Aquarius as a leader in the diffused aeration market,” explains Aquarius Technologies’ Sales Manager Kirk Wessel.
Why gamble with your aeration system?
If you’re thinking about investing in a fine bubble aeration system from an overseas supplier, you’re gambling with your wastewater treatment system. Remember, you get what you pay for. Reliability is more important than a low price, as Aquarius Technologies’ CEO Deborah K. LaVelle points out in this opinion piece on the company’s blog.