Founded in 2009, BARMATEC is a Spanish company that carries out its activities in the water industry. It has become a leading company in the design and supply of aeration equipment for wastewater treatment plants and other industrial processes in Spain.
In this interview, David Barquet, the General Manager of the firm, tells us about the thorough work BARMATEC is known for.
Question: How would you define BARMATEC?
Answer: BARMATEC can be defined as a company that provides global solutions for aeration systems. We offer our clients the design, engineering, and manufacturing of the system, on-site installation and putting it into service.
As a company specialised in aeration systems, we first advise our clients on engineering aspects, carrying out aeration calculations to determine the best type, the number and the distribution of diffusers to ensure the optimum performance of facilities. Afterwards, we do aeration calculations to plan the size of piping for the grid, and, based on the type of water and its characteristics, we determine the best material: for example, PVC, PP or stainless steel.
Next, we draw the plans of the facility and we proceed with the manufacturing in our premises, always done by our own staff. Finally, the aeration system is set up on site by our team of specialised technicians.
Clients turn to BARMATEC either because of the confidence that stems from earlier projects or because of the company's reputation
Q: What values are the basis of your company's philosophy in your field of work?
A: BARMATEC's philosophy is to provide our clients the best solutions for aeration systems, based on some deeply entrenched values:
- Trust: clients usually choose BARMATEC either because of the confidence that stems from earlier projects or because of the company's reputation based on multiple project references. When clients come to us, it is because they trust our work; they trust that the solution we offer them will be the best and most efficient for their facility. Our products are not commodities; they are custom-designed and custom-made systems, according to specifications that are based on the type of water to treat, taking into account that all waters are different. Hence our clients' trust is very important.
- Advisory services: at BARMATEC we always advise our clients on what we think is the best option. Although sometimes projects are already defined in terms of the number of diffusers or their distribution, we always go one step further: we provide technical advice regarding their aeration project, outlining any concerns or potential mistakes we may find in their design, so the customers have more information before they make a decision.
- Professionalism: we take our work very seriously and when someone seeks our services, our specialised technicians study the case together with the Technical Management, and simultaneously we double check with our manufacturer of diffusers in Germany. This enables us to have three technical validations, certifying the correct design of the facility. Once the client approves the project, we proceed with the construction plan in our engineering department, and it is afterwards manufactured in our premises by our own staff. In addition, we have our own technicians in charge of the set-up, which ensures the installation is done properly. Thanks to these working procedures we can have total control of the entire process, preventing any potential errors.
- Reliability of delivery dates: our entire team at the company is well aware that we work in an essential sector and that it implies certain responsibilities. Therefore, when we agree on a delivery date with a client, we meet the deadline.
- Client service: for BARMATEC, the real client service starts when there is an urgent matter or an incident. It is in these cases when the client expects most from the company they have trusted, and it is in these situations when the experience of a company like BARMATEC ensures a quick response to the incident and the solution to the problem, standing out from its competitors.
Q: BARMATEC specialises only in aeration systems, something which, no doubt, is unique about your company. What advantages does this have in the market in terms of competitors?
A: Because we design, manufacture, and install our own aeration systems we can enhance each project, adding improvements in each facility, in such a way that our projects are continuously getting better and better.
Our expertise enables us to advise the client in the selection of the best process design, of the type of diffuser needed, or the type of membrane which is most appropriate for their water, or else the most suitable type of grid system (fixed or retrievable) given future maintenance.
For example, many companies do not pay attention to the optimal location of components as basic as condensation purge systems in the aeration grid, or they may even do away with them. Likewise, a basic concept such as calculating the diameter of the piping for the aeration grid, taking into account head loss and seeking a homogeneous air distribution, is something some manufacturers disregard.
The detailed engineering work carried out by BARMATEC is essential to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of a facility
Q: What is the weight of engineering as a distinct value offered by BARMATEC as a leading provider of aeration systems for water treatment?
A: The hallmark of BARMATEC's aeration grids is their engineering design. In this regard, whereas many grid manufacturers use standard design patterns, often based on the limitations of their diffusers and accessories, BARMATEC designs each grid according to process needs, overcoming the limitations and restrictions of some of the leading companies in the sector.
BARMATEC has grown and forged a place for itself in the aeration world undertaking non-conventional projects that others failed at or would sidestep because of their technical difficulty. BARMATEC's aeration grids have constantly progressed based on experience and innovation.
The detailed engineering work done by BARMATEC is essential to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of a facility, enabling affordable maintenance in the future and maximising the service life of equipment. Furthermore, part of the engineering work focuses on the manufacturing, optimising the materials and the manufacturing means used for the equipment, the quality, and compliance with the demanding delivery deadlines in the sector.
Q: One of the products BARMATEC is well known for are retrievable diffuser systems. What are their main features?
A: BARMATEC's aeration grids are special and unique because they are all custom made. Currently, it is difficult to find a company that designs and manufactures aeration grids like those made by BARMATEC in the market.
For many years, when a biological reactor was built with an aeration system based on diffusers, fixed grids were used, without taking into account that to repair or replace the diffusers or their membranes, the biological reactor had to be stopped and emptied, sometimes for weeks at a time. As time went by, these difficulties and stricter environmental regulations have led for the need to do maintenance operations with no stops, and the evolution from a fixed grid with low added value in terms of engineering, to a retrievable grid, highly complex in terms of the design and installation.
The design of the grid takes into account a series of variables such as: the oxygen needs to degrade the organic load and remove nitrogen; the geometry of the reactor; the maintenance needed to determine the type of grid (fixed/retrievable); the selection of manufacturing materials to ensure durability; the set-up of constraints (with the tank empty or full) and the operation constraints (minimisation of head loss, limitation of flow per diffuser, optimisation of air diffusion, energy efficiency improvements, etc.).
A paradigmatic aspect of BARMATEC's designs is that the dimensions of the biological reactor or the impossibility of emptying it are no longer critical limitations, just one more factor for the design. In terms of the reactor's dimensions, BARMATEC has made retrievable grids that measure more than 20 metres in length, combining a comprehensive design and structural calculations for the benches with ease of transportation and on site set up. Regarding the impossibility of emptying the reactor, BARMATEC has designed and set up aeration grids in tanks in operation without stopping them, using grids that are supported or suspended, even on the old diffusers.
Currently the supporting structures or benches for our retrievable grids are wholly made of stainless steel with different levels of protection, suitable for each type of water, thus avoiding corrosion or degradation issues, with nearly life-long durability.
All of our retrievable grids are previously designed so they will not float during set up nor while in operation; moreover, they feature a system to ensure they are easily removed and placed back.
A detailed study of each and every need and taking these into account during our manufacturing process is the main characteristic of our retrievable grids that makes them well known.
BARMATEC designs each grid according to process needs, overcoming the limitations and restrictions of other companies
Q: Can you please tell us about some successful cases where BARMATEC's aeration grids have been used?
A: BARMATEC was founded in 2009. Since then, we have been involved in countless projects, so it is difficult to recall them all. Several recent facilities are, although, worth mentioning due to their performance and complexity.
One of them involved the installation of retrievable grids in an ice-cream factory. The singularity of that project was that the client was initially reticent to installing an aeration system using diffusers, as they had one in the past which had performed poorly with problems associated. Those diffusers were replaced by a Venturi-type forced aeration system with a blower, which resulted in increased power consumption, low performing air diffusion and alterations to the structure of the biological sludge. Thanks to the company that operates the water treatment plant, and after presenting a study explaining why the earlier diffuser system had failed, they decided to install our retrievable grids of tubular diffusers. The biological performance was spectacular both in terms of the process, and operations. The oxygen dissolved in the pond increased drastically, something which had never been achieved with the aeration system, and the use of the blower from the old air injection system was minimised, eliminating the pump used to recirculate the sludge in the Venturi system. This improvement has left behind trouble in the plant regarding the variations in the input load and its effect on the reactor's oxygenation, and enabled increasing the working concentration (MLSS) and the treatment capacity.
Another important project, at the end of last year, involved the manufacture, supply and set up of a total of eight retrievable grids in a waste water treatment plant in the province of Lleida, in order to eliminate old rotors. The uniqueness of this facility is that the grid set-up was achieved without stopping and emptying the two plant reactors, while maintaining the quality of the effluent all the time.
Photo: Retrievable grids BARMATEC
Q: A large portion of the activity of BARMATEC is national. What is the company's presence in the international market?
A: 90% of our sales are concentrated in the Spanish market, and we started to expand into other countries a couple of years ago. We have worked on several projects in Portugal through our Portuguese subsidiary company TecnoConverting Portugal; we are also involved in several projects in France and are currently also working in the Asian market, with projects in Shanghai and Taipei, via our office in Shanghai.
We also work in Latin America, with more than fifteen projects completed in Ecuador and Costa Rica.
Q: Finally, let us look at the future. What is the company's strategy for the coming years?
Our strategy is to become established as one of the leading companies in aeration systems internationally, the same as we have done in Spain. To achieve this, we have invested heavily in R&D, incorporating new products such as the BTEC Biocarriers, which, adding between 12 and 15% to the volume of the reactor, can double the performance of the reactor, reducing the presence of bulking processes, and stabilising nitrification and denitrification, among other advantages. We have also incorporated Strip-Diffusers with ultra-fine bubbles, which have a larger surface than conventional diffusers, are easier to install and increase the performance 20% over that of conventional diffusers, with almost no cost to replace membranes, and with savings in monthly electric power use of more than 12%.