This global leader in water treatment is pulling out all the stops to provide universal water management solutions. Reuben Ford explains the strategy.
Degrémont is investing $3.3 million in Latin American water treatment technology for drinking water production, desalination, wastewater recycling, urban wastewater treatment and biosolid treatment.
A pioneer in design, provision and operation of water treatment solutions, Degrémont puts together specific technology, depending on customer needs.
“We supply technological solutions to the public and have developed expertise in water treatment worldwide for domestic and industrial use,” says Commercial Manager Vitor Collete. “We’ve put our experience and knowledge to use in the South American market.”
Degrémont’s headquarters is in industrial capital São Paulo. Brazil is the hub for Latin American operations, supported by offices in Argentina, Chile, and Mexico. The region brings in 10 percent of the group’s annual revenue.
Technology Straight from the Source
Bringing global technology to Brazil’s fast-growing industry and urbanization, Degrémont makes international resources available while adhering to local regulations. “Our methods and processes are shared by all our entities in 70 countries throughout the world,” Collette informs.
French-founded Degrémont came to Latin America in 1957 with the construction of water treatment plants in the capital cities of Lima (Peru) and Brasília (Brazil). Since then, company growth in South America closely followed Brazil’s industrial and economic development.
Although the Chilean operations and subsidiaries were opened in 1958 and 1960, respectively, in 1975, the company decided to manage the market region from São Paulo. Today, it boasts hundreds of treatment plants all over the continent. “We use a variety of technology and systems, from conventional to state-of-the-art filtration techniques,” reports Collette.
The group is a subsidiary of Suez Environnement, a French-based water and utility company. As well as domestic supplies, Degrémont provides water treatment facilities for the energy, petrochemical, oil and gas, paper and cellulose, food and drink, mining, and steel industries.
Advanced filtration technology and water treatment systems – collected, tried and tested all over the world – mark Degrémont’s strong market presence. The high-speed floatation system AquaDAF™ and its compact version (AquaDAF PS®), for example, were developed from a process created by Rictor, a Finnish company. Compared to conventional methods, water is cleaned and conditioned at higher speeds. Technology has been deployed in projects in Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina.
Collette describes: “Dissolved air floatation technology is particularly effective in the elimination of low-density pollution particles, like algae. It’s ideal for treatment of saltwater and residues.”
In the case of heavier purification procedures, Degrémont uses a solids contact settling process that enables acceleration of physico-chemical water treatment. The Densadeg® technology (developed in France) is based on a dual chemical injection system that removes organic material and metals, leaving the water suitable for drinking. Another major advantage: complete clarification of water with a considerable reduction of the footprint.
“We also use compact versions of these treatment systems for immediate water management solutions,” Collette continues. He refers to Pulsapak® – a compact metal clarification unit that combines the coagulation/pulsed clarification and filtration stages. The Pulsapak range is made up of six units covering flow rates from 35 to 115 m3/hr. Pulsapak is delivered as a single factory-assembled unit, allowing fast, onsite positioning.
Degrémont invested $100 million in research and development in 2012.
The focus of this investment was compact, mobile treatment plants. “We rent and sell these units, which can be easily transported and rapidly installed and are ideal where a quick temporary solution is required,” Collette adds. The mobile plants can be used in all industry sectors. They are a driving force in the future success of Degrémont, says Collette.
The technology installed in Brazil and around the world is manufactured locally and imported. Degrémont in São Paulo coordinates the engineering, planning and running of systems for the market region.
Made to Measure
Degrémont offers four different contract forms, depending on customer needs. “We design and build water treatment systems and/or operate and maintain them,” Collette says.
For ‘Design and Build’ (D&B) projects, Degrémont controls all the stages – from choosing the process and locations, establishing the price and managing the purchase, to monitoring the construction site, developing and building plants, assembling equipment, and commissioning facilities. Whether for drinking water production, desalination, wastewater pollution removal, wastewater sludge treatment or recycling, these projects offer every guarantee in terms of health, security and industry compliance.
More than 10,000 D&B projects have been carried out and 65 capital cities have been equipped all over the world.
Contracts may extend from a few months to 25 years, assisted by Degrémont’s Operation and Maintenance (O&M) service, which manages water and wastewater treatment plants (even if Degrémont did not build them).
“In Brazil and Latin America, O&M enables municipalities to optimize production costs associated with water and wastewater treatment and greatly improves sanitation,” Collette points out.
As part of the O&M contracts, Degrémont undertakes management of production and treatment processes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with on-call services. “From the short-term contract for emergency works, to the assistance and technical advice contract, to large-scale projects, we offer different custom-designed, high-technology services – regardless of plant size,” emphasizes Collette.
With more than 60 years’ experience in the O&M field, Degrémont currently manages more than 100 contracts, some 230 plants, and 1,800 dedicated employees in 25 countries.
Degrémont has the flexibility to provide equipment, run and install it, and even form a partnership with the client (local authority, region, state or even industrial group). The service, which combines D&B and O&M capabilities, is a real partnership in which Degrémont is fully involved – right down to responsibility for financing. Such long-term agreements bring Degrémont’s historical competences into play and complement what it offers commercially. Indeed, this company goes beyond the traditional areas of D&B and O&M.
The globally proven strategies are a success in Brazil. Following the fusion with the Mexican subsidiary, which added numerous plants to the market region, Degrémont reported annual revenue for Latin America reached $250 million.
Present in 14 Latin American countries, Degrémont employs 425 people (170 in Brazil). As seven percent of Degrémont’s staff is responsible for 10 percent of the group’s revenue, the region is an important growth area.
Brazilian oil giant Petrobras, multinational mining company Vale, and paper and cellulose producer Suzano all rely on Degrémont.
“Our future is in diversification. We depend on the success of our clients and are committed to providing them with the best. At the same time, we are broadening our horizons,” concludes Collette.
Applying global technology to national water treatment, Degrémont is cleaning up in Brazil and Latin America.
Clearly, it provides solutions for the future.