Wastewater utilities are reliant on their assets to deliver their services; hence it is crucial that the plants produce the desired quality and quantity of treated output meeting the current legislation; working efficiently to achieve the operational objectives. Operations and Maintenance (O&M) are the decisions and actions regarding the control and upkeep of industrial asset and equipment. Investing in innovative sludge treatment solutions requires responding to environmental, regulatory and public pressures but also finding cost-effective scenarios considering the related O&M management models.
In the management of integrated water cycle, utilities must deal with sludge treatment, which represents both a challenge and an opportunity according to the circular economy paradigm.
Utilities can choose between different sludge management options, with diverse technological and operative characteristics. The challenge facing sludge managers is to find cost-effective and innovative treatment solutions whilst responding to environmental, regulatory and public pressures. The treatment and disposal of sewage sludge is an expensive problem typically related to high costs of construction and equipment as well as for monitoring process, maintenance and operation in regular working mode. Therefore, a relevant role in the selection of the management option is played by the cost-effective corresponding solution for operating and maintaining the related technology and equipment, considering the total cost of ownership including investments costs and operational expenditures over its lifecycle.
Operation and Maintenance (O&M) are the main asset-related processes referring to the middle of life stage of any treatment plant lifecycle, after itâ€™s been constructed and installed. They are both crucial processes enabling the provision of the expected service in a stable and reliable way from the plant and contributing to the optimization of assetsâ€™ operational lives and risk mitigation.
Operations are the activities to make sure the plant produces the desired quality and quantity of treated sludge and meets the current legislation. Maintenance are the activities that should be undertaken to ensure the plant equipment operates continuously and efficiently to achieve operational objectives, in accordance with its functional requirements.
The development, coordination and control of Operations and Maintenance processes can be implemented following different managerial models and approaches considering the specific requirements of the plant, the alternative maintenance policies and whether to keep them internal processes or externalise them to third parties. Overall, the final objective of any organization should be to define the model to maintain and manage the plants in order to deliver maximum performance while minimising costs and risks over their lifecycle.
Wastewater utilities are reliant on their assets to deliver their services to the users in their service areas. The assets (e.g. equipment) collectively form the physical infrastructure of the wastewater utilities and are the consequence of the accumulated capital investments and operational expenditures on maintenance and rehabilitation over many years. Moreover, sludge treatment facilities are characterized by increasing expectation in service, operation and control; therefore the costs for normal operation are usually rather high. Thus, the important issues in treatment plants working life are an economic operation, control and maintenance, all together in the purpose for reliable operation to meet regulatory requirements. All of this leads to the importance of the proper governance of the maintenance and operations, analyses of the system requirements and improvement of the operation.
Considering the critical role of sludge treatment from an economic, environmental and social perspective, the aim is to investigate O&M management models to understand
the impact of investment decisions on costs and performances of the sludge treatment plants.
The project would provide a mapping of O&M models for different management options for sludge treatment, investigated the related investment and operational costs, through the analysis of case studies of the different options in national and European regions. This latter activity is performed through the identification of reference national and European case studies for technology or context analogy, collecting data through interviews, secondary materials, workshops, focus groups, questionnaires, etc.
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