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Get process plant design right from the start, urges Axion Consulting

Failure by process plant designers and investors to take into account fast-moving changes in the composition of waste infeed materials could cost them dearly in the long run should future disputes arise over performance and quality issues, warns Axion Consulting.

The Manchester-based resource recovery specialist says demand is rising for its engineering expert advice on recycling and waste processes in cases of industrial and commercial disputes.

Axion offers a range of Expert Witness, Due Diligence and Arbitration advice services in cases of industrial and commercial disputes. Issues covered for clients by Axion’s qualified and experienced engineers include litigation, arbitration and technical support for insurers and loss adjusters.

“We are getting involved in more dispute resolution cases as some processing plants, often built in the last decade, experience issues due to the changing nature of waste materials and the rapidly changing end markets for recovered materials,” observes Axion Director Roger Morton.

“The composition of waste is changing rapidly due to changes in packaging and disposal habits, so it’s vital to plan for this right from the start of the contract. Locking a particular fixed waste composition and fixed output product specifications into the design may not allow enough future flexibility; leaving operators vulnerable to costly disputes should the plant not be able to cope.”

Designing a plant capable of handling a wide variation of waste composition may be more expensive at the outset, he advises, but it makes sense to build it for a range of materials that can reduce the risk of future problems.

Waste processing facilities may underperform for a variety of reasons. It may be that the waste is not the right composition or it may be a result of inadequate plant design, leading to over-loading of ‘bottleneck’ sections of the plant which in turn cause poor separation efficiency, blockages and excessive breakdowns. Resolving where the blame lies for these issues can require detailed and lengthy analysis to unravel the causes.

Early consultation with engineers during the contractual process to include flexibility within the plant’s capabilities is important, advises Roger. “Innovation within the waste sector means we’re now working with changing feed materials, evolving end markets and rapidly-developing technology. Construction and operation contracts that allow more collaborative working between local authority clients, plant operators and plant builders will mitigate the need for action in the future.”

As well as offering consulting services to the waste management sector, Axion’s experience of running its own large material recycling operation provides unique insight that helps clients.

“As we also operate in the market commercially, we know the prices of recovered fuel, recycled metals and recycled plastics and we know our own operating costs so we can make credible and realistic assessments of the issues facing processing plants and the likely commercial impact of failures. And because our plant specialises in processing non-metallic fractions from end-of-life vehicles – a niche sector – there is rarely a conflict of interest.”

Roger adds: “Get the experts involved at the start, instead of the end. Acting at the contract-forming stage will save money for all parties in the long run.”

Axion Consulting, part of the Axion Group, develops and evaluates novel resource recovery processes, tests and operates innovative recyclable collection systems as well as offering business planning and financial analysis.

It can supply the expertise, knowledge and necessary skills to implement projects in the Circular Economy sector, with a specific focus on working with supply chains to deliver successful outcomes, which are both environmentally sound and economically viable.

For more information, Axion Consulting on 0161 426 7731 or visit the website - www.axionconsulting.co.uk; @axionconsulting.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 February 2016 12:29