Friday, 22 December 2017

Last Expert Witness Enquiry of The Year

Just as I was closing up for Xmas yesterday, I got another expert witness enquiry. We have had quite a few in the last month. I only completed our last expert report on Wednesday.

It's been another successful year. Another book submitted to the publisher, along with quite a few other publications, and I've had an interesting range of work through Expertise Limited.

I was made a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor, and got quite a few new letters after my name.

I was also elected to the council of the IChemE, with a brief to shake things up a bit.

I'll be back on all of these tasks soon.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Expert Witness: Industrial Effluent Treatment Plant

I'm producing an advisory report about an industrial effluent treatment plant which reportedly didn't meet specification. So far it seems to have all of the standard elements of such cases, though as ever, there are always a few additional wrinkles.

Last week's report was well received, and I'm expecting a question or two in due course.

That one was probably the most one-sided report I have ever written, not because I was acting as an advocate, but because I simply couldn't find anything positive to say about the case advanced by the other side at all.

It is however more usual that the situation is more like the case I am presently looking at - not a slam-dunk for either side, which is not to say that it isn't possible to come to a more likely than not conclusion about the questions being asked. It almost always is. 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Expert Witness: Advisory Reports : Water and Effluent Treatment : Process Engineer

I'm hoping to finish my draft of an advisory expert report today on engineering documentation quality in time to start on a new expert witness instruction for a second advisory report in a scenario I have advised on many times.

I haven't seen the paperwork yet, but I have advised on many failed effluent treatment plants in cases where there is a dispute about whether the plant failed, how it failed, and whose fault it was. This new instruction seems to tick the usual boxes., though I'm always willing to be surprised when I get into the detail.

Other than that, it's a week to go to submission of book 3, I'm teaching water treatment plant design at Chester, preparing for teaching at Manchester in the new year, awaiting an order for a design and commissioning job, and awaiting sample analyses on a second design job.

Nicely busy... 

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Expert Witness: Water Engineering Design Process Deliverables

I'm just awaiting a payment from a new overseas client for an expert witness job to do with quality of supplied engineering documentation. It has some unusual aspects, but there are national and international standards which apply to the quality and characteristics of engineering documentation, irrespective of sector.

Other than that, awaiting the purchase order for a fair-sized commissioning job, and my post-Xmas teaching job. Once it all comes in, I'll be good and busy, so I'm just crossing the tees and dotting the is on my third book..    

Friday, 10 November 2017

Water Treatment: Expert Witness, Design, Process Commissioning, Teaching, Training, Writing

I've conveniently just got my latest book (available for pre-order here) off my desk in time to turn my thoughts back to some knotty engineering problems.

Four contracts are poised to come in in the next few days for expert witness, process design, process commissioning, teaching, and training work. I'm going to be booked up more or less solid for the next three months, with any luck.

Friday, 27 October 2017

More Expert Witness Work: Water Process Engineering Design Deliverables

An Applied Guide to Water And Efflunet Treatment Plant Design Cover

Another enquiry about expert witness work yesterday. It's another unusual job, but an NDA prevents me sharing further details. Expert witness work is always interesting.

Other than that, the various jobs I have been doing continue. The new book is getting polished.
Just a few weeks to go to submission now. I'm trying parts of it out on the students I am teaching process design to at the University of Chester. The cover will be as illustrated above.

There are quite a few jobs in the pipeline. As ever with having a small consultancy, some of them are bound to come in on top of each other, and I'll be very busy again soon enough. 

Friday, 6 October 2017

Water and Effluent Treatment : Expert Advice

A mixed week, but all on the usual theme, water and effluent treatment plant.

I was hired for a consultation on Monday by some management consultants who wanted to know about the sector, and I had a highly unusual request for another bit of confidential consultancy.

Much of the rest of the week has been spent negotiating with the Environment Agency on the terms for a new consent to discharge, and polishing my new book.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Water and Effluent Treatment Plant Design

3D drawing of Reverse Osmosis Plant Design

Back when I first started writing, much of what I wrote were reviews of the books of others. This was an excellent place to start. Casting a critical eye over other author's books was a great introduction into how lack of attention to detail can undermine a good book.

However, having written so many outspoken criticisms of the books of others does however play on my mind when it comes to polishing my books before sending them to the publisher.

I'm completing the checking of how text and illustrations go together in my latest book next week. I'm getting the final illustrations together today. The pic above is probably going to be on the cover.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Troubleshooting Industrial Effluent Treatment Plants

I had an article on troubleshooting industrial effluent treatment plants published this week in "Chemical Engineering Progress" magazine.

Most of the week has been spent polishing my latest book "An Applied Guide to Water and Effluent Treatment Plant Design". The text is most of the way there now, (we are at Rev 5.0). I'm reviewing the illustrations today, as I think it needs some more pictures as well as all of the charts and tables.

I'm waiting on a contract for a fair sized design and commissioning job, and sample analyses for a second. I've got a couple of lecturing gigs lined up as well, at Chester and Manchester. Expecting formal contracts for them soon as well.   

It's good to be working on a book, as it nicely fills the time in between the peaks in demand of design or installation/commissioning contracts, which is why I have another one lined up after I finish this one.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Expert Witness: Sewage Treatment Plant

Things firmed up a little last week with the sewage treatment expert witness engagement enquiries, and progress was made with the final sampling required to complete the Environment Agency's risk analysis supporting the application for a variation to a consent to discharge

This week is mainly being spent on producing the final draft of the new book on water and effluent treatment plant design, unless we are surprised by a new enquiry.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Expert Witness Trade Effluent Charge Dispute, Industrial Effluent Treatment Plant Design Construcrtion and Commissioning

I got another expert witness enquiry last week, to do with trade effluent charges. That's the second in a short period. Summer often seems a popular time to sue people for some reason.

The real engineering jobs are continuing, with the submission to the EA for the required document package to ask for a variation to a bespoke trade effluent discharge consent almost complete, and just waiting now on the issue of another £150K contract to modify a commercial effluent treatment plant, with proper site work and everything.

I don't do a lot of hardhat engineering nowadays, so I'm always grateful for the chance to see something I designed come to fruition.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Expert Witness: Sewage and Industrial Effluent Treatment

I got an enquiry this week about expert witness work to do with high-strength industrial effluents. It seems likely that I will get appointed to do this over the turn of the year.

It's the full package of technical report, formal meeting of experts, production of a post-meeting "points of agreement and disagreement between experts" document, and a court appearance.

I've not had much expert witness work in recent months, instead, I've been doing a lot more proper engineering, which is all to the good. I wouldn't want to become an expert in being an expert, rather than in engineering.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Pump Selection and Specification Training: Webinars, Textbooks and University Courses

Pump Selection and Specification: Pump Curve

I gave a webinar yesterday on intermediate level pump selection and specification intended to bridge the gap between what is taught in university, and how we really do things in practice. I used a version of materials and exercises I have used many times before in fact to face training.

I was not sure how well it would work in a webinar format, but feedback from attendees was very good. My collaborator Keith Plumb will be doing another next week on batch applications, and I may do one the week after on either positive displacement pumps or water industry pumps.

Other than that, it has been a week of writing my new book, and producing its illustrations, and grinding through the paperwork for the variation to a bespoke consent to discharge, and the associated environmental management system.

I'm hoping to wrap up the paperwork next week on site with the client, with a view to pursuing the EMS and application for a variation to the licence on a twin track basis (Environment Agency permitting)

The new book is in good shape, with the word count presently exceeded. Now it gets pruned back to the required conciseness, I ensure that it has a consistent tone and style, I make sure that all of the required illustrations are there, and I have permissions for them all.

I'm hoping to have the new book out in time to use it as a course text for a couple of university courses I will be doing in the next academic year. These will involve me working one day a week at one university before Christmas, and another one after Christmas.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Principal Designer: Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade

We put out a bid this week to act as both principal designer and process consultant on an upgrade of an effluent treatment plant at a commercial site with onerous planning department issues. The CDM Regulations principal designer requirement came about as a result of the extensive demolition required as the first stage of the improvements. It's a nice little job, probably on site towards the end of the year.

We have another job which has many similarities on the books, but we are still at the stage with that one of agreeing with the Environment Agency a revised bespoke consent to discharge for the new plant, and helping to write the Environmental Management System which the site will operate under.

So there is real design and site engineering work going on, but there is a great deal of talking to regulatory authorities and the filling in of many forms.

I also went to Manchester University on Monday to give a talk on Process Plant Layout to fellow practitioners. Sold a few of my layout books. If you'd like one, they are cheapest bought direct from me here.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Consultancy on Environmental Permit Application Completion

I finished a completed draft of my book on Water and Effluent Treatment Plant Design this week, as well as a set of application forms for a variation to a bespoke environmental permit application. We also picked up an order to produce that EMS to BS8555 I discussed in my last post. Just another week's work for us...

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Consultant for Variation of Your Environmental Permit /Consent To Discharge: Producing an Environmental Management System

So this week has involved a lot of ploughing through Environment Agency guidance documents on the latest rules for applying for a variation to a bespoke consent to discharge treated effluent to environment.

Nowadays this requires the applicant to have an Environmental Management System(EMS), ideally to ISO 14000, EMAS, Acorn or BS8555 standards. I have agreed with my client that their EMS will need them to get to stage 3 on the BS8555 programme. They are presently around stage 1.

I used to do a lot of work in the area back when I worked for Envirowise, back when BS8555 was just an "Acorn". It is painstaking work, but I like the BS8555 approach. I think it leads to a better system, more tailored to ensuring genuine site specific best practice than attempting to buy in an ISO 14000 system from an external consultant with little senior management or staff engagement or buy-in. Bought in systems like that are at best box-ticking exercises. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Change, transfer or cancel your environmental permit: Consent to discharge

I'm spending the day filling in the forms to make an application to vary an Environment Agency environmental permit for a client, (during my investigation of problems with their effluent treatment plant, it became clear that this would be required). These forms take quite some effort and care to complete correctly. No wonder then that if completed directly by clients, they might contain some errors.

So many people are unaware for example that you cannot for example put anything into surface water drains other than surface water. I lost track of the number of companies who were washing staff cars on site, with the dirty water produced going into surface water drains back when I used to do resource efficiency visits for Envirowise. There were plenty of others putting "clean" condensate from compressors etc. into surface or groundwater.

Doing it yourself or getting a non-professional to do it for you might well be a false economy.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Water Treatment Process Design Expert Witness

I'm waiting on a call from a potential new overseas expert witness instruction at the moment.

Most of the week has been taken up with designing and pricing wastewater tretamnt plant, and discussions with the Environment Agency about variations to discharge consents.

I've also been talking to a couple of universites about doing more teaching next year, (but not too much, I love engineering too much to ever consider full-time lecturing again).

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Design and Pricing Effluent Treatment Plant Upgrades

I've done a lot of exam marking this week, which necessitated travelling back and forth to Manchester to pick up and drop off the papers. Looks like I'll be back there again next year.

The rest of the week has been spent designing a couple of effluent treatment plants, talking to potential suppliers of the required equipment, and the Environment Agency with respect to a revised consent at one of the sites.

The latest book is also progressing well, easily on schedule for submission date. You can't get rich writing textbooks, but we do find it pleasant work. 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

A Mixed Bag

I had a nice variety of things last week - data analysis for the lab effluent discussed previously, costing up planning permission support for another effluent treatment plant upgrade, a bit of expert witness work to do with nitrifying filters, and a bit of support for the Manchester students who will sit an exam set by me on Monday. 

I also met a guy who came all the way from California to Matlock to discuss his effluent treatment enhancement product with me, with a view to me trialling it. There may be more about this product after I have looked at his data, and perhaps generated some of my own.

In the week to come, pricing up the final stage of two effluent treatment plant upgrades, and a lot of exam marking.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Effluent Treatment Process Plant Design Based On Water Quality Analyses

I spent today doing a conceptual design for a bespoke effluent treatment plant based upon analysis of effluent at the site over a week of normal running.

The new plant is a replacement for a standard package plant which was installed at the site, and the analysis makes clear why the package plant doesn't work. The effluent at the site is simply nothing like the domestic sewage such plants are designed to treat.

Package plants don't like fats, oils, and greases, nor do they like detergents, biocides, or other inhibitory chemicals. They really only like domestic wastewater. Mostly sewage, with a bit of bathwater, and some laundry. Lab wastes are not really their thing. 

Friday, 12 May 2017

Water Quality Analyses for Effluent Treatment Plant Design and Troubleshooting

I've just submitted a final report on one of the industrial effluent treatment plant jobs I have on the books, and I am awaiting lab results for the second.

I've been making progress with my new book on water and effluent treatment plant in the meanwhile, and I was in at Manchester teaching water treatment earlier in the week.

I was also elected to the ruling council of the Institution of Chemical Engineers this week, which will  add a little to the workload. 

Friday, 5 May 2017

I Love Real Engineering

Picture of Water Engineering Expert going "Noooooooooooooooooooh"

I like teaching and writing books, but I really love solving practical problems for people. I've just got  a new order to negotiate with the Environment Agency, and design a replacement plant to match a revised consent to discharge for a plant treating laboratory chemical waste.

Once again, I have been preceded by cheaper, less expert "engineers" and consultants. As my father in law says, "you buy cheap you buy twice". In cases like this, it is however rarely twice. I'm probably on average the fourth person to look at a problem.

A guideline: "Cheap", "local", and "family-run" are not in my experience recommendations for companies operating in this area.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Chemical Wastewater Troubleshooting Expert

I wrote an article on wastewater treatment plant troubleshooting for Chemical Engineering Progress magazine in the US last week, and had a opportunity to practice my skills in the area for real yesterday.

As I wrote in the article, I was far from the first person to visit the site, though I will be the last, as I will actually solve the problem. I can see why people are loath to employ a professional engineer in these cases. Chemical engineers are not cheap, especially not compared with the tanker drivers, farmers, tradesmen and miscellaneous others who are more than willing to have a crack at solving effluent treatment plant problems.

Even when the plant is treating straight domestic sewage, their lack of a systematic and analytical approach makes using non-professionals for troubleshooting a false economy. When the effluent is a complex and variable mixture of sewage and chemical wastes, amateurs should tell the client to call on a professional. If only they would, but it is only professionals are obliged to to work outside their area of competence.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Industrial Effluent Treatment Troubleshooting

We just signed a contract for a new troubleshooting job, for treatment of a complex and highly variable chemical effluent. I'm be going out to have a look at it soon.

I'm continuing to gather and analyse data on the other troubleshooting job I have on the books. I think the picture is firming up there, though I don't think it is going to get to the point where it is absolutely certain what is going on, I think it is already clear enough to act with sufficient confidence in the results. 

I'm looking forward to teaching wastewater treatment plant design at Manchester University next week, and making some more progress with my water treatment plant book. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Troubleshooting Wastewater Treatment Plant

I'm writing an article at the moment on troubleshooting wastewater treatment plant. I'm also doing a fair amount of the real thing at the moment. I'm gathering and analysing data on one of the underloaded plants I have been looking at for some time, and I have a new enquiry in for a new underperforming plant.

I'm on my second pass through my new book on water and wastewater treatment plant design, informed by my years of troubleshooting badly specified, designed, operated or maintained sewage and effluent treatment plant.

I don't have a lot of expert witness work in at present, but I'd rather be an engineer with a side-line in expert witness work than the other way round. In my last court appearance, "the other side's barrister" questioned my experience as an expert witness, and I pointed out that I was an expert engineer, rather than an expert in being an expert as so many in my field are.  

I am fully trained in all aspects of expert witness work, and I do a few cases a year, but mostly, I am a practising engineer, who only acts as an expert in cases to do with my professional practice. 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Water Treatment Plant Process Design Expert

I've mainly been working on my new book this week, "An Applied Guide to Water And Effluent Treatment Plant Design". The other two (An Applied Guide to Process and Plant Design" and "Process Plant Layout" are still selling well.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Data Analysis,Troubleshooting and Reporting

I submitted my report on the problems with a commercial sewage treatment plant last Friday. An analysis of the limited sampling data gathered so far was inconclusive, though I would not be surprised if there turned out to be a relationship between BOD, Suspended Solids and Turbidity. There usually is.   

Friday, 24 March 2017

Troubleshooting Effluent Treatment: Septic Tanks

I've had another mixed week, teaching water engineering at Manchester University on Monday, then a day on site on Tuesday taking measurements of some big old septic tanks to try and work out the required desludging intervals. I've been seeing If I can make any sense of that data today.

It is an interesting site, which has increased over time to a far higher peak loading than the plant was originally designed to take, successively overlaid official and unofficial modifications, and operating and maintenance procedures passed down from operator to operator for many decades. The end result of this is that I have to work out what we have, and guess at why long-dead operators modified and operated as they did before I can figure out what was a bad idea in the first place, what has become obsolete, and what needs to be left well alone. 

Friday, 3 March 2017

More Troubleshooting Effluent Treatment Plant: Storm Water Handling: Planning Issues: Listed Monument

I have been preparing for the recommissioning of a misbehaving submerged aerated filter (SAF) plant this week. I'm just back from site, where a few tweaks were applied to the stormwater handling side of things.

Before changing anything, it is important to accurately measure what you have and I am making sure I have accurate data on flows and loads to the plant, as well as its performance in removing BOD, suspended solids and ammonia across the range of conditions it sees.

The plant is unusual for a private one in having a consent to discharge storm water by overflow from the storm tanks above a certain incoming flowrate. Today's tweaks were intended to ensure compliance with both the normal and storm discharge consents at high flows to the plant.

I have also spoken to the Environment  Agency about my plans for further changes to futureproof the plant, and have obtained agreement in principle for the recommissioning.

As the site is all Grade II listed, I will be accompanied on next week's visit by a specialist architect, to assist with producing pre-planning documentation.  

Friday, 24 February 2017

Troubleshooting Effluent Treatment Plant

I've been busy this week recovering from jetlag after last week's trip to Pakistan and planning a troubleshooting exercise at a misbehaving commercial effluent treatment plant.

I have quite a few contracts on the go  at the moment, but the others are luckily quiet enough that I have been able to give much of my attention to figuring out what we need to do to make sense of the data in hand, and what we can do once we understand what has been happening to improve matters.

I have a plan and method statements for all that, and the lab booked starting next week to analyse new samples, so I will soon be in a positon to start to tweak the plant (or more accurately in this case, watch others tweak it).

Things may get slightly worse before they get better, so I'm going to get the EA to buy into the plan before carrying it out. The client has authorised me to talk to the EA on their behalf, so next week will be busy with that.

I'm also doing a day's teaching at Chester (on Plant Layout), and looking at getting out the first rough draft of my new book.  

Sunday, 19 February 2017

An Applied Guide to Process and Plant Design Training Course

Posters and Entrance from An Applied Guide to Process And Plant Design Training Course PIEAS Pakistan

I got back from Pakistan yesterday, where I had been delivering the materials I'm using for the three-day course based on my book "An Applied Guide to Process and Plant Design" which I will be giving in Manchester at the end of March.

I'd never been to Pakistan before, which added to eth interest, but the best thing was the enthusiasm of the delegates, mostly engineers with five to ten years of postgraduate experience. I hope I have such keen delegates in March!

The rest of the month will mostly be taken up with design work to do with an underperforming commercial effluent treatment plant, and one day a week of undergrad teaching at either Manchester or Chester.  

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Hydraulic Design of Industrial Effluent Treatment Plants

A mixed bag this week, with a visit to a top-tier COMAH site to consult on hydraulic problems they have been having with their effluent treatment plant, and some time later in the week reviewing flow and layout data and devising solutions.

I also got my complimentary copies of my plant layout book. Hadn't really grasped how big it was until I held a copy. Even in softback, 756 pages at 21 x 27.3 cm weighs more than 2kg. Get your own copy here

I also threw my hat into the ring for a place on the secretive council which runs the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

I'm just getting ready now for next week's delivery of the materials I will be using for my process plant design course at the end of March.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Hydraulic Design in Water and Effluent Treatment

Hopefully picked up a bit of real design work today, doing hydraulic design for modifications to a sewage treatment plant.

It'll make a nice break from writing the water and effluent treatment plant design book before I go overseas for a week to deliver the materials I am using for my IChemE accredited process plant design course. I've got about 45 delegates for that at present, which makes a nice number for the group work exercises.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Process Plant Design Training

We enrolled the first few people on our process plant design course this week(brochure here).

Other than that, I've been busy with my new book, and arranging next year's teaching at Manchester and Chester.

The new year has got off to a slow start with respect to real engineering, but that suits me, as I had a massive backlog of company, university and IChemE paperwork to get through, as well as a book to write.

It would be convenient if I can get past the UK and overseas teaching and training I've got booked in before my engineering clients come back for more, but I'll manage.

It's good to have two thirds of the new book down with almost a year to go to my submission deadline, and all of that admin out of the way. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Process Plant Design Training

Just booked the venue for the first UK delivery of my IChemE accredited Process Plant Design course , followed by two day masterclasses in water and pharma design from me and Eur Ing Keith Plumb respectively. It's at the Hilton Manchester Airport, 27th-31st March. £1750 ex VAT per head for all five days. Contact to book a place

Friday, 13 January 2017

Water and Effluent Treatment Expertise

I've been making good progress on the new book (on water and effluent treatment plant design) this week, and concluding arrangements with the University of Manchester for some lecturing on water engineering.

I'm due in at Chester soon to teach their final year students about plant layout, so preparing for that as well as for the first couple of deliveries of my IChemE accredited course on process plant design, one UK and one overseas.

Three expert witness and troubleshooting jobs, (all to do with effluent treatment) are still ongoing. It's a nice steady start to the year.      

Friday, 6 January 2017

Water and Effluent Treatment Plant Design Expert says Happy New Year!

I have spent the week like many people arranging the next few months. I've got live contracts for expert witness and troubleshooting work, but it is the teaching and training jobs which have been booking me first. A couple of process design training courses overseas, and a couple at home ( one process design, one water and effluent treatment plant design) have booked a day or two a week until Easter between them.  

Not much else happening this week, so I've taken the opportunity to make some progress with the new book, "An Applied Guide to Water and Effluent Treatment Plant Design". I'm at 63,000 words, (more than halfway through the agreed word-count) into the rough draft, but there is a lot of polishing to do once I have made the required word-count, and in any case the difficulty with this book (on my specialist area of design) will be fitting in all in.