Going Underground: Confined Space Training For Safe Sewer Working

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Entering sewers or tanks requires more than a hard hat, hi-vis and torch. Personnel must be equipped with sufficient knowledge and experience before descending these deep, dark, damp realms, hence ATAC Solutions provides Confined Space Training: an examining exercise in an oxygen deficient atmosphere. Reis Gilham, a Sales Executive at ATAC, underwent his first day’s training in June. It proved to be an enlightening experience, despite the pitch-black conditions, as he explained.

“Initially, the idea of taking part in a confined space training exercise was slightly daunting as I really didn’t know what to expect. Once we got into the swing of things, however, any trepidation soon vanished and I found the whole experience totally fascinating.

Before taking the plunge into the pitch dark, our group was given a health and safety tutorial on the many life-threatening risks associated with a job, which on the face of it at least, appears fairly simple and straightforward. Our group learnt how different gasses can be harmful in a confined space area; how to identify them and how to read gas volumes via a monitor. We also learnt about precautions needed to be taken when entering a confined space with gasses present. One of the most important aspects was how to wear a gas mask correctly, as fumes released in sewers can kill. This was followed by a short paper test to ensure we’d absorbed the vital information we’d been given, and a practical demonstration on using a gas mask, alarm and harness underground.

Then came the moment of truth: we faced our first confined space test. Okay, so we weren’t descending deep beneath the road’s surface as staff would do in an on-the-job situation, but we were required to enter the dark, dingy, smelly chamber of a mobile confined space training unit – supplied by ESS Salesforce – which replicated a sewer environment some would one day confront for real. The two-tiered mobile unit consists of 44 metres of configurable tunnel labyrinth, three access points allowing horizontal and vertical entry and exit, as well as LED and emergency lighting.

We entered the unit in pairs and were instructed to search for certain lights. Via radio, we relayed our gas readings to our ‘outside’ team and informed them we were okay. Then suddenly an alarm sounded. It was part of a scenario to alert us to the fact we were in a vulnerable situation. It was only an exercise, but a siren’s sound in an enclosed environment without lights can still unnerve. We had acted quickly, put on our gas masks and exit the facility as soon as possible, using only torches as a guide.

I’m pleased to say we escaped, and the whole training exercise proved an enjoyable learning experience. I’m now confined space-trained, which means even from the comfort of my office, I can identify which equipment is needed to protect against risks associated with sewer entry.”

ATAC Anniversary Denotes Decade Of Wastewater Expertise

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Wastewater management specialists, ATAC Solutions, is celebrating a decade of providing environmental solutions to domestic, commercial and blue-chip companies across the UK.

The company, founded in 2007 by current directors Andrew Turnill and Adam Colley, began as an engineering consultancy business; their team’s mechanical and electrical expertise supplying system solutions to the UK’s armed forces. By year-two its service division was well established, maintaining more than 500 individual sites across south east England. Today, ATAC Solutions is one of the leading environmental engineering companies in the UK contracting to companies renowned nationwide.

Adam Colley, owner and Sales Director, said: “Ten years is an incredible milestone for ATAC to achieve and we’re really proud of how far we’ve come in that time. It goes without saying that the knowledge, expertise and commitment from our staff has helped us evolve the company in the way we have. Further to that, the many clients we’ve worked with along the way have made the company the success it is today. We wouldn’t be here without the loyal staff and clients we have, and for that we’re really grateful”

Since the company’s formation it has established an impressive repertoire of solutions for many clients who sleep soundly knowing ATAC’s robust treatment solutions are taking care of the effluent while they take care of their busy everyday lives.

In the coming months, ATAC will be trialing new wastewater technologies to help water companies across the country meet stricter standards set out by the Environment Agency. Adam Colley added: “There are always challenges to overcome in this industry, therefore there is no room for complacency. We’re really excited to see where the next 10 years takes us as a business.”

How to Read a Pump Curve

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When selecting a pump you will need to know if it is fit for purpose so it will perform efficiently throughout a healthy and long life. The main way of doing this is to check the pump’s curve by using a graph which displays a pumps duty under different conditions – this can normally be found on the pump’s datasheet and looks like the below:

Atac graph

At first, this graph may feel a little overwhelming but I promise you once you have read this article it will make a lot of sense.

This graph has a number of symbols and labels such as H (m), Q (l/s), Q (l/s), a continuous line, loads of numbers and ‘U5K’ inexplicably hovering in the top left corner. Let’s go through them one by one and give them some meaning.

U5K

This simply denotes the name of the pump the graph refers to. In this case the pump curve is describing the Jung Pumpen U5K pump which is a submersible pump mainly used for drainage.

The formatting of pump curves differ depending on the manufacturer of the pump and what the curve is intending to show. For example, if the graph was being used to describe multiple pumps there would be a line for each of them and each would have their own label.

H (m)

H stands for ‘Head’ which is a term used to describe how much pressure the pump will have to overcome. Most of this pressure comes from the resistance caused by gravity when pumping the water vertically, however, some ‘head’ can be caused by other factors but this will be covered by a separate article.

The (m) stands for the unit of measurement (Meters), therefore, H (m) is Meters Head or Total Meters Head. To keep things simple, imagine Meters Head as the vertical distance between the position of the pump and discharge point – technically known as Static Head which is a major factor of TotaAtac diagraml Head.

 

As the ‘H (m)’ is labelling the horizontal axis of the graph we know the numbers that run up the side of it must describe the number of Meters Head, making the U5K have a maximum head of just over 8 meters.

Q (m^3/h)

The other axis of the graph describes the flow rate which is the amount of fluid that passes a given point per unit of time. This can be described in various ways but this graph primarily uses ‘Q (m^3/h)’, I will break this down below.

Q = Flow Rate

M^3 = Amount of fluid in meters squared

h = Time frame in hours

Therefore, when we look at the numbers that run along the bottom of the graph we can see the maximum flow rate (Q) for the U5K is about 11.5 cubic meters per hour or 11.5 (m^3/h).

In terms that are easier to visualise the U5K can pump a maximum of 11,500 litres per hour (one cubic meter is the same as 1000 litres).

 

Q (l/s)

This is just another way to express the same as the above but using different units. This time the flow rate (Q) is described using litres (l) per second (s) and has its own scale (0-3). On this scale we can see the U5K has a maximum flow rate of about 3.25 l/s.

One way of confirming this is to divide the previous figure of 11,500 l/h by the number of seconds in one hour (3,600), which gives us 3.19 l/s which is very close to the sum we came to a moment ago (3.25 l/s).

 

Continuous line

OK, so we now know how to read the maximum head and flow rate on the graph. Now it is time to look at how to see if a pump is suitable for a particular application. This is where the continuous line comes into play.

Say we have a need for a pump that can pump 10 cubic meters per hour (m^3/h) at 4 meters head [M (h)] and we wanted to know if the U5K would be suitable for the job. We could use the pump curve (continuous line) to find either what flow rate could be achieved for a given head or vice versa. Let us input our requirements one at a time.

If we start by finding the required head (4 meters) on the vertical axis and follow the horizontal line to where it meets the pump curve. At this point on the curve follow the line down to the bottom which brings you to a point just before the number 8 which tells us the following:

At 4 meters head this pump can achieve just under 8 cubic litres per hour [8                       (m^3/h)] which is less than what we require meaning this pump is unsuitable.

N.B. It is good practice to find the flow rate for a given head rather than the other way around.

Sometimes, when sizing up a pump you find the requirements fall on the pump curve but it is close to one end or the other. This means the pump will be able to do the required but it is still not ideal. Generally speaking, a pump is happiest while working around the middle of the curve.

Imagine what is happening while a pump is working on the far left of the curve. Although it may be delivering the desired flow rate at the given head, the motor will be running at the upper edge of its comfort zone while pumping less fluid than optimal. This means there is less opportunity for heat to be displaced as fluid is the key component in cooling the pump. Due to this, it is likely the life of the pump will be significantly shortened and the pump will become very uneconomical.

On the flip side, if a pump was performing on the far right of the curve the motor will be almost freewheeling as there is far less head, therefore, less pressure to overcome. A pump running continuously at maximum speed will soon have its impellor degrade and experience cavitation which will drastically reduce its efficacy and it will be far less economical.

In conclusion, when sizing up a pump you will need to know what you want to achieve in terms of head and flow rate and look at the pump curves for any pumps you think may be suitable. It will be a case of trawling through all of the information available for each pump until you find something you are happy with.

Alternatively, you could give us a call on 01622 882 400 and one of our friendly staff will help advise on the most suitable pump for your requirements, totally free of charge.

Top 10 Considerations When Choosing a Borehole Pump

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The increasing cost of water, coupled with the shortage of groundwater, leaves both domestic and commercial customers with the need for alternative methods to supply clean, naturally filtered water for applications such as irrigation and drinking water for animals. For some however, the problem is reversed – a high water table can render land unusable. Whether you’re trying to lower the water table or find a cost effective solution to watering your plants, borehole pumps can provide the perfect solution.

However, choosing a borehole pump can be a difficult decision considering the large range available and number of variables to consider. So, how do you decide which one is right for the job? Our handy list of 10 considerations to choosing a borehole pump will help make this decision easier.

1)       What is the application of the borehole pump?

Once you know what you want to achieve with the borehole pump you can begin to plan your system. Are you hoping to irrigate a garden? Store water in a tank? Lower the local water table? All of these things, and more, are possible but they all have very different factors to consider.

2)       What is the diameter of the borehole?

You must know the size of the borehole to ensure it fits correctly. The smaller the borehole, the smaller the pump would need to be and this would mean the pump would have a tougher time pumping the water to the surface.

For this reason, a pump which is smaller in diameter would need to have more stages to achieve the same duty, which tends to increase the price of the pump. That said, it is cheaper to drill a smaller bore hole than a larger one, so you will have to find a balance you are comfortable with.

3)       What is the average depth of the water level?

It takes a lot of effort to move water against gravity and with every 10 vertical meters an extra bar of pressure is needed to overcome it. Therefore, it is important to know the average depth of the water to gain an understanding of the power required in your borehole pump.

4)       How far away is the water being pumped to?

Once you know the vertical distance you intend to pump the water, it is time to calculate the horizontal distance between the top of your borehole and the destination of the water. The further away it is being pumped, the more pressure is needed to overcome factors such as viscosity which restricts the flow of water. Although the effects of viscosity are relatively small they can mount up when pumping over a large distance.

5)       What is the size of the pipe (diameter)?

The diameter of the pipe is an important factor. Essentially, the rule is that a smaller pipe diameter will cause more friction than a larger pipe (all things being equal), therefore, more pressure would be needed to overcome the pressure loss caused by the friction.

6)       What is the above ground elevation of your pipework?

Make note of any elevation between the top of the borehole to the highest point the water will be pumped to. This figure combines with pipe diameter, pipe length, standing water level and drawdown level to arrive at a total system head.

7)       What sort of flow rate would you need to achieve?

It is important to know what flow rate you hope to achieve, for example, if you were sizing a borehole pump up to supply a sprinkler system you would need both pressure and flow to make it work effectively.

8)       Do you have a single or three phase power supply?

Some borehole pumps are only available in either single or three phase versions, therefore, you will need to know what power supply you have available as this will limit your options.

9)       How will the pump be controlled?

Will you require the pump to be controlled automatically or manually? This really depends on what you hope to achieve with your system. For example, if you are planning on reducing the local water table it may be worth using an automatic borehole pump. That way, when the water is brought to its desired level, the pump will turn off automatically and wait for the water level to refresh, at which point the pump would begin pumping again.

10)   What is the refresh rate of the borehole?

Refresh rate describes the time natural water level would recover if pumping was stopped. If, for example, your aim is to reduce the local water table, you would have to ensure the refresh rate was not higher than the flow rate your system could achieve. Imagine if you had a half filled barrel of water and every minute you took one bucket of water out of it but put two back in, the water level would rise rather than fall.

As one of the leading providers of water pumps, ATAC Solutions’ team of knowledgeable and experienced advisors are always on hand to help you select the best pump for your job.

There when you need us most

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Every day approximately 11 billion litres of sewage is treated in 9,000 Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) across the UK. The treated effluent is then discharged to inland waters, estuaries and the sea. One of the smallest, but most integral and probably underrated parts of these sewage treatment plants are the pumps which ensure the treated water reaches its next destination. But what happens when these pumps stop working?

A malfunctioning water pump can create a number of problems for STPs, especially if it is the only one in use. Without a functioning pump, the treated water builds up and cannot be discharged, the result: an unpleasant flood and a potential environmental hazard.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure pumps do not fail, there are always going to be occasions when incidences happen. ATAC Solutions, with a fleet of tankers, are always on hand to deal with such emergencies and provide emergency back up to ensure that treated water is discharged correctly. However, the most cost-effective solution to this issue is to source the correct replacement pump… and quickly!

With many manufacturers continually upgrading pumps or discontinuing models, it can be difficult to source the correct replacement. However, ATAC Solutions’ vast experience and extensive supply chain enables us to provide fast and effective solutions, to get your STP up and running as quickly as possible, with little disruption.

In the run-up to Christmas, ATAC Solutions helped a number of customers source the correct replacement pumps for their STPs. One of our customers had been struggling to source a Wilo Top-S 40/7 single phase pump, with little success. The pump, a highly specialised product, was obsolete, but ATAC Solutions were able to quickly find the most suitable replacement, a Yonos Maxo 40/0.5/8. Next day shipping meant that within 24 hours of contacting ATAC Solutions our customer had the correct pump and were able to get their STP functioning again.
ATAC Solutions’ industry knowledge and experience provides customers with cost-effective, time saving solutions and will ensure as little disruption to homes and business as possible.

Top 5 troubleshooting tips for your Secoh blower

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Let’s face it, nobody would buy an air blower unless they had a very specific and important use for it. Whether it is for aerating a fish pond or a sewage treatment tank, blower breakdowns can be very frustrating and the immediate risk to both fish and the health of bacteria in a treatment tank are very pronounced.  

Secoh air blowers are solid machines and can run for many years without issue – assuming proper maintenance is performed. However, if your blower doesn’t start or has totally stopped, this handy troubleshooting guide will give you the top 5 causes and solutions for when the worst happens and how to remedy it.

1)         Secoh Unplugged: No, this is not referring to a stripped back acoustic album of all the best Secoh musical classics, rather, it is referring to the most fundamental of causes for a Secoh blower to ‘not start’ – being physically unplugged from the power supply.  It’s very easy to leap to the conclusion that a blower is broken and call out an engineer only to be advised of the importance of plugging in your electrical items if you want them to work.

Action: Plug it in!

2)         Damaged Power Cord: Over time, if the blower is not properly installed, the power cord can become damaged causing the Secoh blower to stop working either permanently or intermittently and should be rectified immediately.

Action: Important: Disconnect the power.

Test the cords’ continuity with a multimeter set to one of the below symbols:

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Check the multimeter is working by touching the two probes together and wait for a sound or for the display to show a number at or near to 0.00. Then touch each end of the cable with the probe – paying close attention to the colour of the wire to ensure you are probing each end of the same wire. If you hear a continuous sound or the display stabilises at or around ‘0.00’ the cord has continuity.

It may be worth getting a helper to slowly flex the cord while testing it to see if there are any breaks but be aware that small breaks may remain undetected. Replace any power cord if you have reason to suspect internal damage.

3)         Power Supply Fault: One issue that could arise is a fault with the power supply itself.

Action: Check the power supply by plugging in another electrical item that is known to be working. If the item powers up, it is safe to assume the power supply is working fine.

4)         Auto-Stopper Activation: Most of the Secoh JDK range features a device designed to protect the blower in the case of a torn or warped diaphragm – the Auto-Stopper – essentially a switch that turns the unit off if there is an imbalance between the two opposing diaphragms.  Such imbalances can be caused by a diaphragm becoming damaged over time, providing less resistance to the movement of the magnet held between them. If you can see the warning light while the unit is not working, this is very likely to be the cause and is very easily rectified.

Action: Turn off the power. Move the auto-stopper back to its central position, put it all back together and then power the unit back up. If the Secoh blower begins working again without issue, the auto-stopper is likely to have been activated as a false positive.

If the blower begins working and then stops after a split second, it is likely that one or more of the diaphragms are damaged. Replace the diaphragm by purchasing one of these official Secoh diaphragm kits.

http://atacsolutions.com/spares-and-accessories/diaphragm-kits.html

5)         Off-set magnet: Secoh blowers function by rocking a magnet, suspended between two diaphragms, back and forth. Sometimes the magnet gets stuck to one of them and the blower will cease to function.

Action: Turn off the power and centralise the magnet. Sometimes the diaphragms have become ‘baggy’ due to overheating, so they no longer hold the magnet as centrally as it should. If you have experienced this problem, you might consider replacing the diaphragms.

So, there we have it. If you experience a problem that is not listed here or want to discuss any of them further why not contact us on 01622 822 400 and we will talk you through it.

Also, it is worth noting that the best approach for preventing any of the above issues is to perform regular maintenance by changing the diaphragms annually and treating your blower to a full service kit every three years. You can purchase a service kit by following the link below.

http://atacsolutions.com/spares-and-accessories/service-kits.html

 

Wet wipes are not flushed with success

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The phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is certainly pertinent when we talk about everything from rubbish disposal, food waste and anything to do with plumbing and sanitation. However, as Iain Thomson, senior business development engineer at ATAC describes, one tiny new development is causing chaos the length and breadth of the country. And the time for action is now.

We had a bit of good news this week. ITV News reported that, after serious pressure, wet wipes manufacturers will apply a ‘do not flush’ label to their products in a bid to stop blockages. Apparently the governing body for wet wipes, EDANA, has reported that its members, who include P&G and Johnson & Johnson, have given in to pressure by agreeing to re-label products with warnings not to flush them down the toilet.

But is this all a storm in a cistern? Between August 2015 and July 2016, Northumbrian Water was informed about 1,860 blockages in the area. As part of this, the company is reminding people that ‘only toilet paper, pee and poo go down the loo’.  It’s encouraging residents to pop nappies, cotton buds, cotton wool, wipes and other bathroom waste into a bin.

Most wet wipes do not biodegrade (and even the ones that claim they do take much longer to fall apart than ordinary toilet roll), so they get stuck in the sewers. Oil, grease and food products then build up around them, creating solid “fatbergs” like the 15 tonne blockage discovered under the streets of Kingston, Surrey, in 2013. This monster caused such a build-up of raw sewage in the system that it almost blew the lids off the local manholes.

At ATAC, 90% of our call-outs were as a result of problems involving sanitary ware, and practically all involved blockages due to wet wipes and other “foreign material” in the sewage and pipe system. In pumping systems, wet wipes block the impeller (the pump shaft).  They sit on top of a pump causing it to burn out; they disrupt the float mechanisms which are the devices which record levels in tanks giving inaccurate readings; and they clog up inlet pipes, especially in older clay pipes.

There is also a wider issue here, and it’s not just about us dealing with a particularly unpleasant disaster at a property when its strikes. It’s about the pressure being put on the UK’s burgeoning infrastructure system, in the face of new housing stock being built, often, off-grid.

I’ll give you an example. A couple of months ago I visited a developer whose collection of new-builds was completed off-grid. In just one household the disposal of wet wipes had caused untold damage to the system and resulted in all of the houses suffering what has been described as a catastrophic failure of the waste system, leading to massive insurance claims, appalling neighbourhood relations and a bill of £10,000 for the developer.  And we’re seeing examples like this with increased regularity.

So I’m heartened that at least manufacturers have stepped up to the plate on urging responsible disposal of wet wipes. But we need to go further and explain to all users – domestic and commercial – that individual responsibility is vital if we want to keep our taps running and our toilets flushing. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

WARNING: The Flood is Coming

The sun may be shining but it’s a fair assumption that there is a flood coming. Over the past few years flooding has become one of the UK’s hottest environmental topics. For many years, winter brings the misery of damage to homes and businesses, lengthy clean ups and the uncertainty of when, or if, it will all happen again. The question is: why does this keep happening and what can be done?

Continue reading

Wilo Hot Water Circulators Replacement Guide

In this post we will help you choose the recommended replacements for the Wilo Top- STop-SD and the Myson SE Circulator range. We can always help you further if you require, just give us a ring on 01622 882400 and we will be happy to speak to you.

Wilo Circulators ReplacementTo replace your existing Top-S or Top-SD pump there are two options; If you have an old Wilo Top- S or (SD) pump the replacement for this is the Wilo Stratos or Stratos D range – a Premium high- efficiency pump which can be linked to a building management system. For example, if you have Top-S 40/10 the high efficiency direct replacement will be Wilo Stratos 40/1-10.

If you have an old Wilo Top- S pump which is not linked to a building management system the replacement for this is the Wilo Yonos Maxo or Maxo D range – a Standard high- efficiency pump.  For example, if you have a Top-S 30/10 the direct replacement will be Wilo Yonos Maxo 30//0.5-10. 

We also have several enquiries for the Wilo Myson SE Range, this can be replaced with the Yonos Maxo range. For example, if you have the Myson SE125 the direct replacement will be the Yonos Maxo 25/0.5-7 no spacer kit needed. If you have the Myson SE150 the replacement will be Yonos Maxo 40/0.5-4 and you will need a 24mm spacer kit.

Please call us if you have any further questions!