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Almost any industrial process that starts with raw materials and

results in the creation of afinished product will usually result in the production of

unwanted by-products, waste materials or in the use of products using water in the

process -the production of waste water or an effluent stream.

In the surface treatment industry specifically; the chemical process for cleaning the finished products results in wastewater and spent chemical being produced, both of which require chemical processing before disposal.

Over the last 30 years the engineers at Automated Water &Effluent Limited have gained valuable experience in how many industrial processes operate and their wastewater and effluent treatment requirements. Our instrumentation and equipment has been helping our customers to monitor and dose their process and waste water efficiently as well as offer process water recycling.

Across this time period the surface finishing industry has changed considerably.Initially a lot of our work was mainly in the automotive sector where circa 70% of the UK’s chrome plating was carried out within a30mile radius of Birmingham, more recently we’ve seen the sector expand to include amuch wider range of surface treatments; including powder coating, pre-treatment, electroplating,anodising, galvanising,metal polishing,right through to specific treatments for high specification aerospace components. As aresult, the Surface Finishing sector is being seen as an increasingly exciting sector,unfortunately the waste water part of the process doesn’t quite share the same glamorous association.

Despite this, as the surface finishing industry has become increasingly sophisticated so too has the waste water treatment and process water recycling parts of the process. One of example of where increased sophistication has had a positive return on investment is in the electroplating sector.Some electroplaters would just turn on the taps at the start of the day to ensure that the works was well rinsed and the effluent was diluted. Literally and figuratively this was money down the drain.

By using asuitable rinse water control kit, the conductivity of the rinse water can be measured and when the conductivity exceeds the required value, the clean water can be called to dilute the rinse water back to the required limit.

In the aerospace sector the principle is similar; only the rinse tanks and systems now

56 SURFACEWORLD april 2013

require demineralised or ultra pure water. Our instrumentation has become increasingly sophisticated to meet these requirements allowing us to measure the conductivity or resistivity of up to 18MΩ.

These systems alone have saved significant volumes of resource water,asevery metre cubed of incoming water saved is ametre cubed of waste water which doesn’t require chemical treatment before it can be discharged.

Discharging waste water or effluent has always required monitoring as part of aconsent to discharge agreement; and will invariably continue to require monitoring and recording in the foreseeable future. As an instrumentation, control and dosing equipment supplier we’re well known for the supply of monitoring equipment for waste water discharge. This normally comprises of the measurement of the pH,Temperature and Flow of the effluent stream and the logging of this data into a suitable logging device, such as adigital chart recorder.Aslong as the temperature and pH are within the parameters outlined in the consent to discharge agreement and the total volume discharged doesn’t exceed an agreed amount, then normally all parties are reasonably happy.From an equipment supplier perspective we try and ensure that our equipment can meet the installation requirements, whether it’s an open channel or closed pipe type installation.

In summary -while waste water treatment or effluent treatment isn’t the most exciting part of the metal finishing industry,itisanimportant one. Before we can safely discharge the waste we need to make sure it’s safe to do so. Failure to comply with aconsent to discharge notice can stop awhole plant and prevent awhole manufacturing process from taking place. After 30 years of working with the metal treatment sector Automated Water &Effluent Ltd. have encountered a large variety of different processes and invariably we’ll continue to do so. We continue to innovate and produce instrumentation, sensors and control equipment to deal with even the most challenging environments and processes.

Tel: +44 (0) 1785 254 597

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