Podcast | July 12, 2012

Hach Focuses On Optimizing Systems For Higher-Quality Water

Pamm Moss Hach

Pam Moss of Hach Company talks about the water handling process and how every aspect — in the lab, at the plant, and in the field — can be optimized to save money and increase water quality.

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Todd Schnick: And we’re coming to you live from Dallas, Texas.  This is day four of AWWA ACE 2012 in Water Online Radio.  I’m your host, Todd Schnick, joined by my colleague, Todd Youngblood.  Todd, we’re having a great last day.  I’m sorry to see it coming to a close.

Todd Youngblood: We are.  And you know, we’ve had guests before that had entourages.  I mean, that’s not all that unusual.  This is the very first time we’ve had a guest come in with handlers.

Todd Schnick: They had to bring in bleachers for this guest.

Todd Youngblood: They had bleachers, the handlers, you to put the headset on, and the chair ring.

Todd Schnick: You have handlers and staff.

Todd Youngblood: There’s probably a limo out in front of the convention hall.  This is unbelievable.

Todd Schnick: Maybe we can get a ride in that limo, that’d be cool huh?

Todd Youngblood: That may be what we do to get our shipping taken care of.  I’m really excited to welcome our next guest.  Her name is Pam Moss.  She’s the Project Sales Manager in the Carolinas and Georgia, our home state, with Hach Company.  Welcome to the show, Pam.

Pam: Thank you, Todd, and thank you, Todd.  And thank you to my handler, Barry.

Todd Schnick: Barry, you're the hero today, we appreciate all the good works that you're doing.

Pam: He’s my hero.

Todd Schnick: Pam, tell us about your background.

Pam: I’ve been in the water industry since 1987. I’m a biologist by training.  I’ve worked in water treatment, wastewater treatment, commercial laboratories, been active with the associations.  And now, very fortunate to be able to work for Hach the past four years.

Todd Schnick: Well, we want to hear all about Hach.  Tell us about the good works that you guys are out there doing for your market.  How are you helping and serving your market?

Pam: The main focus, what we’re doing is helping our systems — water systems and wastewater systems — help them optimize their process, so they can produce a better quality product to protect public health and the water environment.  So we do it by process analyzers, laboratory analyzers, software programs, to let them optimize their processes.

Todd Schnick: First of all, I’ve got to say, I have a degree in Biology as well.

Pam: Welcome, Todd.

Todd Schnick: Yeah.  You can see how effectively I’m applying that knowledge that my parents so kindly paid for, but talk a little bit about the problems that you're solving.

Pam: The biggest problem I think most systems are seeing right now is increasing regulations.  The maximum contaminant levels we’re looking for are going lower and lower.  So, therefore, systems have to optimize and be much more efficient and effective to produce those products.

We have an aging infrastructure.  Both in the plants and in the water distribution systems.  So we really have to manage our systems much more carefully as these systems are aging.

Todd Schnick: Pam, what should we be focusing on when we think about the future of water?

Pam: To me, personally, I think it is about water operations and optimization.  Hach has products that the folks can use to enhance what they're doing, so they can take their time and spend time in other projects.  Automation is huge. 

The gentleman before me was speaking about SCADA systems.  If we can get process analyzers written with SCADA systems and information management tools, we can really, really dive down and drill down, and optimize our processes, and do a lot with information.

Our job with Hach is to let them take the information and make data-driven decisions.  In other words, what is really going on, use your water treatment as an art with the real life of engineering, and really produce a high-quality product, and continue to produce a high-quality product.

Todd Schnick: Pam, I’m curious about some of the tools that you just mentioned there now.  Could you take us down another level of detail?  What kind of tools are there out there for an operator to use?

Pam: Sure.  Hach breaks it down into field meters, so that the guys out in the water distribution system can go out and take coring tests pH tests, et cetera, of what’s happening in the distribution system.  Then, secondly, we have a lot of lab equipment.  So the lab folks and the operators at the plants can really drill down to what those numbers are.

The third fold is the process instrumentation that’s on duty 24/7.  So you have lab data, you have process data to give a lot of the information to the operators to be able to do their jobs.  The fourth rung to this ladder is information management.

Once you have that information from Hach and from the SCADA systems, be able to put that together, really graph it, look at trends, and really save on chemicals, save on energy, and really drive down to a really high-quality product.

Todd Schnick: We’re here at ACE 12 AWWA’s events, and everybody in this building is about improving the water quality.

Pam: Oh yes, absolutely. 

Todd Schnick: What is Hach doing?  What are some of the tools you guys are doing, to do that as well?

Pam: Hach is a very innovation-oriented company.  That’s our job.  We’ve been around since 1947, I believe, when Clifford and Kitty Hach formed the company.  And we are the world leader in water quality analysis, all across the world.  The main things we’re focusing on at this show, besides some new launches of some instrumentation, is the information management side of it.

You have the data, now what are you going to do with the data?  How do you manage that data, become more efficient, effective?  Own your operations, but how do you communicate to your boards?  The folks who are not the scientists and the biologists?

To be able to communicate to lawyers, schoolteachers, et cetera.  And you can take this information, put it together, graph it, make it pictorial, and your customers will understand it a whole lot better.  So that’s really a main focus here at this show.

Todd Youngblood: Pam, we’ve talked about technology, water quality, data collection, data analysis, let’s talk about money.

Pam: Sure.

Todd Youngblood: At the end of the day, water utilities are strapped for cash, capital investment.

Pam: Sure they are.  Absolutely.

Todd Youngblood: What kind of impact does Hach products and services have on the financial operations of your customers?

Pam: That is really, really true.  Because obviously our water systems have water customers, and they pay a water bill every month.  And they want to see a return on that investment.  What Hach is trying to do is offer tools in which they can make things more efficient and effective to save money.

In other words, using these process analyzers, the information management, to save on chemical costs, to save on energy costs, so that will really make a more effective product.  But that really helps a water system tremendously.

Todd Youngblood: Hach Company is exhibiting here at ACE 12.  How’s the show gone for you, what were your objectives and goals going into this show?

Pam: Actually, it’s been a great show.  I’m a member of AWWA since the late ’80s, and this is the drinking water event to be at.  There’s no question at all.  Our focus here is to service our customers, and most everybody in this building at some point is a Hach customer.

Whether they're doing field laboratory process, at some point, we touch them.  So here we’re looking to educate about some of our new product launches — with our new spectrophotometer, the DR 6000; in wastewater, our new Luminescent Dissolve Oxygen Probe, the second generation.

Our second generation of a probe coring analyzer.  And then our information management, to let our customers know what’s new.  What is new out there?  But it’s been a great show for us.  Absolutely.

Todd Schnick: Well, you talk a lot about a lot of new technology.  Especially the last three or four sentences there.  [Laughter]  I love it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the technology, I think it’s vitally important.  A lot of folks, particularly somebody running a water utility, has to be pretty conservative and careful making a 20-, 25-year investment kind of decision.

Pam: Sure.

Todd Schnick: And so they're logically maybe a little bit reluctant to adopt some of this new technology.  How do you help folks get over that hurdle?

Pam: Yeah, that’s a really great question.  Because there are some utilities that are all about change.  They're all about being on the cutting edge, and looking at what’s new, and seeing how that can help them into the future.  Other utilities are much more conservative.

The one good thing that I really love about Hach is we’ve been here since the ’40s.  And we will be here into the future.  It’s a very sustainable system that we’re operating under.

Our job is to look at the return on the investment, work with those engineers, those operators, to look at those process analyzers, see what their lime lives are, and what their return on the investment is.

And usually it turns out, “Oh yeah, they're going to save money in the long run using those products.”

Todd Schnick: Pam, I hate to say it, we could talk to you all day, but we’re out of time.  Before we let you go, how can people get in touch with you?  And more importantly, where can they learn about the good works at Hach Company?

Pam: Well, I tell you, we have a pretty awesome website.  For those who like to go there, at www.Hach.com.  A great website.  Great search engine in the upper left-hand corner.  There's even a section on the front page for our engineers.  That can really focus them on drinking water, wastewater, power company, et cetera.

We also have virtual wastewater plant — virtual water plant on our site.

Todd Schnick: Interesting.

Pam: So a lot of really cool, exciting things on the website.  For those who would rather go through phone, which is great, our main 800 number is 800-227-4224.  Lots of resources.  We have regional sales managers out in the field, we have product sales managers out in the field.

We have a huge tech support group in Loveland (CO), great customer service group, lots of resources.  So they can do it by web, they can do it by phone.  Lots of different resources.  Heck, we have videos all over YouTube.  We have Facebook, we have Twitter.

If you want to contact us, we will make an avenue for you.

Todd Schnick: Outstanding.  Pam Moss, project sales manager of the Carolinas and Georgia with Hach Company, it was great to have you.  Thanks so much for joining us.

Pam: Thank you, Todd, and thank you, Todd.

Todd Schnick: All right.  Well that wraps this segment.  On behalf of our guest Pam Moss, my co-host Todd Youngblood, all of us at Water Online, I am Todd Schnick, and we’ll be right back with our next guest.