Black & Veatch uses digital and engineering skill to help infrastructure clients.
Our mission of ‘building a world of difference’ means that we try to give something back to the communities in which we work,” says Scott Aitken, managing director of Black & Veatch’s European business.
“It’s not about putting up the tallest towers – a society with safe drinking water is a precondition to the higher-profile projects.” Giving something back has informed the company’s work since its foundation in 1915, in Kansas City, Missouri. Since then, the employee-owned business has grown into a global concern, with more than 10,000 staff and over 100 offices worldwide.
Black & Veatch’s UK development has focused on water and wastewater engineering, and the company has been in the vanguard of using new technologies and technical expertise for the benefit of clients.
“Technical innovation has been essential to us as a company for the past century,” says Aitken. “We are a technology-led company and our extensive grasp of water and wastewater treatment technologies enables us to deliver the engineering and technical solution best suited to our clients’ needs.”
These solutions include a number of groundbreaking projects. Black & Veatch was responsible for a study that determined “preferred architecture”, to demonstrate that tidal energy in the UK can be cost competitive with other low-carbon energy by 2020. It also developed a tool to analyse multiple data points from wastewater pumping stations to accurately predict the risk of pollution incidents. Black & Veatch’s teams created the world’s first “piano key” inlet, at Black Esk Reservoir in Scotland, providing a safer, cheaper solution that manages water flow without moving structures.
The company is now using a similar approach to address 21st century challenges such as climate change, sustainability, water scarcity and the greater use of renewable energy. It designed and constructed Britain’s largest urban water reuse facility at London’s Olympic Park. And at wastewater treatment plants in Manchester, Milton Keynes and London, it uses thermal hydrolysis and advanced digestion to generate renewable electricity from biogas.
Black & Veatch is also pioneering the use of digital technology in water engineering. This includes digitising asset data through intelligent piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) which enables an iterative design process through which the most efficient blend of construction cost and asset performance can be realised. The intelligent P&IDs form the building blocks of a digital data model, covering all aspects of an asset, which remains live and interactive through its lifecycle – from tender through to decommissioning.
“We have seamlessly transferred our approach to technology as we help our water clients move from the analogue to the digital age,” says Aitken. “Better use of data and operational technology integration and being able to work within a common data environment, harnessing the benefits of digital engineering, is of vital importance. Enabling different technologies to work properly with each other is crucial. For us, it’s about continuing to be at the forefront of what technologies are out there, and looking at new, innovative ways to utilise and integrate them to meet our clients’ needs.”
- Produced in association with Black & Veatch