50 Years in business

50 Years - 50 Stories: Carlton United Brewery - Samoa Wastewater Treatment Plant - A First for Samoa!

When Aquatec Maxcon built the Samoa Brewery Waste Water Treatment Plant in 2005, it was the first waste water treatment plant ever constructed in the Pacific Island nation.

Aquatec Maxcon was contracted by Carlton & United Breweries (who owned Samoa Brewery at the time) to find a suitable solution for their trade waste. As a design and construct project, Aquatec Maxcon selected UASB technology from Paques followed by tertiary treatment using Aquatec Maxcon's own AquaStar surface aerator. One particular challenge of the project was treating high pH trade waste from the brewery’s glass bottle washing plant, requiring an acid dosing system to be installed in order to neutralise the effluent. The majority of the tanks and equipment for the plant were fabricated in Ipswich, Australia, then shipped to Samoa. Installation was carried out by local labour under close supervision from the Aquatec Maxcon team.

The Samoa Brewery WWTP maintained the pristine environment of Apia, Samoa as well as providing robust and suitable operation when no similar infrastructure existed in Samoa at the time.

The project was also Lawrence Cheung’s first major project as a Project Manager, where he was mentored by Geoff Parker and Erik van Driel. Lawrence has now been with Aquatec Maxcon for over 17 years, another example of how Aquatec Maxcon values, invests in and continually develops its people.

50 Years - 50 Stories - Samoa Brewery Wastewater Aquatec Maxcon

Below: Project summary of the Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) Samoa Wastewater Treatment Plant.


50 Years - 50 Stories: The Story of the Aqua Band Screen & Aqua Wash Press

50 Years - 50 Stories - Bandscreen Washpress Aquatec Maxcon

In late 2014 we submitted a tender offer to Redland City Council for the design, fabrication and installation of a new inlet works for the Mt Cotton Waste Water Treatment Plant. Though the offer included the full scope of the inlet works, it also included two products that, at the time, did not exist beyond rough hand sketched concept drawings. These products, now called the Aqua Band Screen and Aqua Max Washpress were offered alongside alternative, "tried & tested" proprietary bandscreens and washpresses.

This opportunity for developing new products came with significant risk. An inlet screen arguably has the toughest job of any mechanical equipment in a sewage treatment plant as it sees the worst of conditions and media. The tight project timeline left no time for multiple design iterations to be developed and proven – the first prototype model would need to go straight into operation. The project design was for only one duty bandscreen and washpress, meaning that any failures would require the plant to be run in manual operation, with 24hr attendance to clear the manual bypass screen. In order to back our new products, we extended the 12 month defects liability period to 36 months.

Why did we have the confidence to take on such a risk? As a vertically integrated company, Aquatec Maxcon boasts an enviable amount of inhouse knowledge and experience in the water industry. For 50 years we have taken on interesting challenges like these and our ‘never walk away’ attitude has proven to be a great asset. Aquatec Maxcon started the research and development from scratch in January 2015 with Ben Johanson heading the design, modelling, simulations, 3D printing and testing the prototypes. He was supported by the in-house experts (Paul Kwong, David Yule and Greg Johnston) as well as the inhouse drafting and Maxcon Industries fabrication teams.

By August of 2015, the equipment had been fabricated and was being tested in our Ipswich factory, using fresh toilet paper and bucket loads of dog food to mimic the ‘solids’ that the screen would see in its operation. Just weeks later the bandscreen and washpress was installed and commissioned to full operation. This equipment has continued to operate to this day without any significant failures or downtime.

As a measure of success, Redland City Council have since ordered two more Aqua Band Screens and Aqua Max Washpresses for use in their Thorneside WWTP inlet works, each being designed for flows over 4 times those at Mt Cotton.

Aqua Band Screen and Wash Press Mt Cotton Thorneside

50 Years - 50 Stories: The Golden Circle UASB

Geoff Parker manhole Golden Circle

The Golden Circle UASB (Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket) Project was hugely significant for Aquatec Maxcon way back in the 1980’s, being the first large Paques UASB plant ever built in Australia. The job proved to be quite a challenge for a number of reasons, one of them being the plant had to be designed and built within a very narrow window of 40 weeks with hefty penalties for lateness – conditions that were unheard of back then! The Aquatec Maxcon team was clearly not daunted by this prospect as the project was completed 17 days ahead of schedule. The benefits for Golden Circle following the new installations were immediate. The waste charges for the plant were slashed to 10%, paying for itself after three years of operation. 

Since the UASB was installed, Aquatec Maxcon have returned to the Golden Circle cannery several times to perform further work, proof that Australia’s first UASB installation was a resounding and enduring success, all thanks to the efforts of the remarkable Aquatec Maxcon team led by Project Manager, Geoff  Parker. Geoff retired in 2015 after 32 years with Aquatec Maxcon and still occasionally assists us when we need his expertise… He is currently assisting one of our Project Engineers (Nina Li) in our St Marys office. Maxcon Industries were responsible for the pipes and mechanics which were handled by their very best apprentice - a strapping young boilermaker named Evan Bentley. Evan began as an apprentice and is still with us 35 years later, now working as a Site Installation Manager.

This was the beginning of our partnership with Paques BV for the use of UASB treatment equipment, a process that is particularly effective on high-strength industrial waste. Aquatec Maxcon and Paques have enjoyed a long and productive relationship ever since, working closely together to deliver a range of innovative industrial treatment plants at XXXX, Smiths Crisp, Cadbury, CUB, and Visy. Paques BV are world leaders in granular technologies such as Anammox® technology, IC Reactors, UASB and Thiopaq, Phospax.

Golden Circle inspecting Civils WWTP

Above: Civil works inspection at Golden Circle circa 1989. Steve Christensen (Golden Circle), Ken Hartley (wearing coat) and Hulls' site foreman inspect the works. Photo from Geoff Parker's private collection.

Geoff Parker Golden Circle WWTP Sunday Afternoon

Above: Geoff Parker "manning the manhole" at Golden Circle cannery, circa 1989. Workplace Health & Safety rules and Personal Protection Equipment requirements have clearly come a very long way since this picture was taken. (During the 1980's, the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission was still in its infancy.) Photo from Geoff Parker's private collection.

50 Years - 50 Stories: John Blake

We began as Maxwell Contracting, a fabrication workshop started by Peter and John Maxwell at Tiger Street in West Ipswich in 1970. After the floods in 1973/4, we moved to our current location – where we have remained for the past 40+ years. A few years later, a Sydney-based company, Aquatec Engineering, the brainchild of Tom Lawson, merged with us to form Aquatec Maxcon. Decades later, MPA Engineering joined the fun and became part of the Aquatec Maxcon Group.

Coincidentally, this week we celebrated the 50th work anniversary of John Blake. "Blakey" began as a strapping young site tradesman and is still with us today as an Estimator and resident problem solver due to his wealth of knowledge gained from working for all the Councils, Water Authorities, Industrial Clients and Power Stations over the years. His stories range from using pay phones and reverse charge calls as a primary means of professional communication to newfangled fax-machines and brick mobile phones, a far cry from smart phones and virtual offices of today. A lot has changed in 50 years, and Blakey has seen us go from humble beginnings all the way through to the Company we are today.

Not many individuals work for the same Company for half a century! Congratulations to John for his loyalty and stamina!

Below: John Blake as a strapping young tradie on site (left) and as he appears around the office today (right) as our highly esteemed Estimator and General Problem Solver

Blakey - 50 years and 50 stories Aquatec Maxcon Group

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