The new 6 600 m2 chemical production facility of multinational Veolia Water Technologies South Africa, which opened in Pomona, Kempton Park, on Thursday, is the main blending facility for the company’s local operations, and is also set to export to Veolia’s clients throughout Africa, owing to its competitive costs of production compared with other Veolia chemical production facilities, such as in Italy and France.
The facility's production manager Simon Schmalzried on Thursday noted that the factory produces more than 40 chemicals as part of the company’s global Hydrex range of water chemicals, including water and wastewater treatment chemicals, boiler and cooling tower chemicals, flocculant chemicals and reverse osmosis membrane cleaning chemicals, as well as specially blended chemicals for specific applications.
The factory produces 500 t a month of water treatment chemicals, which is in line with the capacity of its previous Sebenza, Isando, factory.
However, the factory could increase production to 1 500 t a month if it implemented three eight-hour shifts, up from the single shift it currently operates.
“The bottlenecks that became apparent in the previous facility were related to storage capacity, both for the raw materials and the finished products. Here, we have sufficient storage space and can triple our production when we need to.”
The factory also has an in-house laboratory for testing and verification, and its testing and quality assurance procedures conform to the International Standards Organisation standards, as well as local standards. It also holds three different food and beverage chemicals certifications, namely the South African Bureau of Standards 1827, 1828 and 1829 standards.
“We are already producing a shipment of chemicals for use in Morocco, and there is a distant opportunity to export to Brazil, where we use toll blenders to produce chemicals for our clients there,” said Veolia South Africa business development manager Chris Braybrooke.
The new production facility complements its Sebenza Engineered Systems facility where the company’s range of prefabricated packaged plants are built. This includes several key offerings of Veolia’s new Standard Products portfolio, a range of packaged solutions of specific, adapted Veolia products and solutions drawn from its portfolio of over 350 proprietary technologies for particular market segments in Africa, including municipal and industrial water and wastewater treatment.
“The production capacity of the new facility and the demand for our containerised and designed solutions are two central pillars of our Ambitions for Africa initiative. We have large multinational companies that we serve in Africa and are seeing demand for smaller-scale water treatment solutions to serve communities throughout the continent, instead of large, centralised water treatment plants,” he explained.
Veolia South Africa MD Arnaud Gisclon on Thursday added that the facility was supportive of its operations in developing countries, but that its production costs allowed it to export to developed countries as well. The facility had supplied chemicals to Qatar-based clients.
“All the chemicals conform with our Hydrex manufacturing and chemical blending processes as engineered by our Paris-based research and development division. Similarly, our focus on environment-friendly chemicals and chemical use, as well as our focus on client service regardless of territory, are also supported by this facility,” he explained.
He added that, while the company still designed and built large water treatment plants, demand for smaller, localised solutions has been growing, especially in Africa.
“For the mountainous country of Lesotho, we designed a mobile water treatment plant that fits onto a four-wheel drive truck. It takes water from any available source and purifies it, through reverse osmosis and chemical dosing, to drinking-water quality, which it discharges into a tank. This tank then serves a small community, often with water piped directly to the houses.”
He noted that this solution had been so well-received that Veolia South Africa has gotten inquiries through its head offices, in France, for left-handed versions of the truck.
The plant also represents foreign direct investment, as the construction was funded by a direct injection of €6-million by Veolia, Gisclon added.
Meanwhile, the new facility does not discharge any liquid waste, harvests rainwater and recovers 90% of its industrial wastewater for reuse.
The facility captures all the run-off water from its blending and container washing. This is then sent to the effluent treatment plant where it uses lime to balance the pH and then uses evaporation to recover 90% of the water. The remaining sludge is taken away by an accredited industrial waste company.