Successful partnership solves Renewi’s burning issue
It’s every waste management company’s nightmare: fire in a storage hall. This nightmare became reality for recycling manager Jeroen van Houten of Renewi in Zoetermeer (NL). The fire service has also been called out to other sites of this regional waste-to-product company in the past. This led Renewi to explore the options for a fire extinguishing system. They found many companies who were willing to install a complete system. But the contacts didn’t run smoothly. Prices weren’t transparent. Jeroen therefore chose a different strategy. He ordered the actual extinguishing part from a specialist company and the pump part from an existing supplier: Van der Ende Groep. A test revealed that the combination works well. And: Renewi is estimated to have saved more than € 150,000 on the total system.
‘Fires are a big problem in our line of business,’ says Jeroen van Houten. ‘There’s been a fire here in Zoetermeer, in Wateringen (NL) and in other sites. That was why we wanted better protection for this site. If fire breaks out, you must be able to respond much faster.’ The most logical step is then to contact companies that specialise in this area, so that fires can be extinguished before they really start. Jeroen: ‘We did actually make contact with the standard suppliers, and they were eager to take on the project immediately. They started giving us lots of numbers too. But the question for me was: what are you actually selling? I’m a practical person. I want to know what I’m spending my money on, and how something works.’
Simple questions, to which he did not receive clear answers. Jeroen therefore divided the fire extinguishing system into two parts. The first part of the system consists of a PYROsmart hotspot detection system and two firefighting cannons. The other part is the feed pump with a pressure-boosting system pump connected in series. This is familiar territory for a pump supplier like Van der Ende Groep, which happens to be one of Renewi’s ‘preferred’ suppliers. ‘We’re like one of the family, you could say,’ laughs Arco van den Bos. ‘We’ve already done several pump projects for Renewi. That’s why Jeroen contacted us with the question: we’re thinking about installing a fire extinguishing system; you already supply us with pumps, so might you be interested in this, and would you share some ideas with us? Jeroen was thinking that there’s a different way to do this. Less expensive and more efficient.’
Van der Ende Groep did indeed share their ideas, in close consultation with B.L.W. Visser, the chosen supplier for the hotspot detection system, an important part of the total system. Infrared technology allows very early detection of a hotspot that could result in a fire. The first explorations revealed that linking the systems together would not be a problem. However, there was a different problem. Jeroen: ‘This approach raised a few questions within our own organisation. Should we really work with a system that doesn’t have certification?
‘This certification is important from the perspective of the insurance company. But the pressure to have a safe work environment was so high that we decided against requiring certification. Another consideration was the incredible price difference between the combination of Van der Ende Groep plus other specialist suppliers compared with the standard suppliers: more than € 150,000.’
By chance, there’s firefighting water available at the site. Jeroen: ‘A large waterway runs just behind the company, and we have the water authority’s permission to use it in case of fire.’ One Saturday, everything was made ready for conducting a first test. The fire is lit in a waste container in one of the halls. A camera system has also been set up, able to scan the entire hall in less than two minutes. When the burning container comes ‘into sight’, a signal is sent to the system that controls the pump unit.
The supply pump is activated, creating intake pressure in the second pump. It does this in a controlled way, to prevent water hammer in the system. The firefighting cannon aims itself at the location of the fire and comes into action. Mission completed. Jeroen: ‘The test showed that the system works. There were just a couple of software settings that we needed to fine-tune: for instance, one of the nozzles was set too high. But that’s the reason you do a test.’
The Renewi project has created another spin-off for the suppliers, says Arco. ‘Yes definitely, this project could be the start of a good partnership. Not long after this system was completed, our partner contacted us to ask about another project. Both sides felt that the partnership went well.’ In view of the financial advantages offered by this combination of suppliers, it’s possible that Van der Ende Groep’s territory could now also cover fire extinguishing systems.