TALIS, one of the world’s leading providers of water flow control solutions, is acting to help prevent endemic waste in the water sector, stemming from what it believes is a failure to make the best buying decisions for non-standard applications.
Talis has launched a report called ‘Going Beyond the Catalogue’, to highlight ways to create more intelligent design, specification and procurement processes as poor decisions can cause costs to rise.
It uses Mechanical Joints as a case example, as these are products many buyers think they know well, however there is much that lies below the surface, with the best components carefully designed and precision-engineered to meet very specific tasks.
For water companies, it’s important to get best value from purchases, including price and quality. But in the case of components for a complex system, such as a water network, this ‘value’ can be affected by many variables – failure rates, wear on the system, time expended on fitting or maintenance, or levels of disruption for users of the network – and therefore standard products may not be the best option.
Therefore, for buyers, obtaining best value may mean ‘going beyond the catalogue’ and working with suppliers to find nonstandard or bespoke solutions that deliver the maximum possible benefits.
The report cites a need for water companies, suppliers and manufacturers to work more closely to share expertise and capabilities, so customers can find the right product for the right situation. And for suppliers to show a willingness to be flexible, providing bespoke and innovative solutions which will offer tangible benefits.
Conversations that end at price and delivery dates are never going to be enough to meet the complex needs that can arise when dealing with water networks.
There needs to always be the option to put the catalogue aside and talk about better, bespoke solutions where these can reduce costs or increase efficiencies.
It also requires the right supplier. A partner that can fully assess the customer’s needs and – if necessary – manufacture the right solution for their specific requirements.
When the partnership between customer and supplier is working perfectly, standard needs should be business as usual, leaving time and focus for non-standard needs to be the areas where customers and suppliers can work closely to explore the ‘art of the possible’, working to co-design solutions that will save time, money and resources.
Within the report, TALIS also encourages water companies to ask themselves some key questions when they have to look beyond the standard solutions.
One area in particular that water companies should focus on is to invest time in understanding key factors in the manufacture of components, to help customers improve their design and specification processes.
For example, in the case of mechanical joints for challenging applications, fabricated joints made from steel components are often the only solution. These can be manufactured to operate at large diameters (up to DN 2800) and high pressures up to 100 / 150 bar).
However, to achieve these standards and still work effectively, it is crucial that components are manufactured using best practice techniques, such as cold expansion, flash butt welding and using vulcanized rubber gaskets, to maximize efficiencies.
An effective supplier will also be able to reduce costs by highlighting situations where a lower specification or alternative solution will be suitable to meet the needs – for example, using an internal rubber lining for fabricated mechanical joints being exposed to seawater, rather than requiring duplex stainless steel.
By developing an understanding of such techniques, water companies can make better-informed decisions that ultimately will save time, money and energy across the running of their networks.