IDE’s modular approach to desalination solutions is heralding a new era of more competitive, efficient, cost effective and eco-friendly plants for quick delivery, to be developed using the M2PD (Modular Market Preferred Design) concept. Deputy CEO Amnon Levy tells us more.
The journey to M2PD
The desalination history of IDE sets off in the 1960s using the method of freezing (Zarchin Method) to desalinate sea water. The next step was the introduction of thermal systems using evaporation and condensation. In the 1980s, IDE started using Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology and even developed its own membranes. After a break of a few years, during which IDE focused on thermal desalination, and once RO technology matured, the company resumed using RO.
In the 1990s, use of RO desalination became more established and IDE grew exponentially the size and quantity of the plants it was building. During those years, IDE broke world records. This started with the Eilat plant, built for the Mekorot Water Authority. This plant included an RO train with output of 8,000 m3/day, which was the highest capacity train in the world at that time. The next stage of development used similar trains to build a plant in Larnaca of 46,000m3/day.
The next step was the introduction of pressure centers, a revolutionary change in the planning concept, adding scalability to mega-size projects (projects with outputs of hundreds of thousands of cubic meters per day). The first desalination plant to use pressure centers was Ashkelon, which produced 330,000 m3/day per day.
When the Ashkelon plant went into operation, it was the largest of its kind in the world. The company then broke a further two world records in building the Hadera plant, and most recently, the plant in Soreq – the largest desalination plant of its kind in the world.
Organizational Change and a Rethink
“In 2009 an update of strategy compelled us to look at new areas,” recalls Amnon. “We discovered a major desalination market that we had been overlooking during the previous decade – small and medium sized plants.” The advantage of these markets was that the size of the projects meant that they were more frequent and enabled us to balance the fluctuation of the work loads with which our company has to cope within the large plants market. The challenge in this market, in which competitors were already addressing this segment, was to differentiate IDE and to develop a competitive advantage.
The IDE PROGREENTM Technology
“We strove to provide a better and more financially viable solution than already existed in the market,” says Amnon. “We looked at our RO process, which used five chemicals at various stages, and saw the potential for an eco-friendly, easy to operate RO process that didn’t require chemicals at all. This is how the eco-friendly desalination process of IDE PROGREENTM was born.”
The initial development and implementation of the process was at small, modular plants that were built as products, enabling quick delivery of the plant, which would be manufactured and inspected at the factory. It would be easy to transport and assemble, and would require minimal operational and maintenance work.
This is how the modularity of IDE PROGREENTM was born.
Developing the Principle of M2PD
As part of the Wildly Important Goals (WIG) that were defined for 2014, the management of the company set a goal to improve IDE’s competitive advantage in mega-size SWRO projects through an 8% reduction in Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) project costs, and a reduction of design, manufacturing and plant setup time by 20%. The decision was that this ambitious goal would be achieved through technological improvements; standardized design; use of standard equipment; modular planning and production; and improved procurement processes and costs of equipment purchased.
In order to achieve this challenging goal, the thought process and formulation of solutions began in the fourth quarter of last year, immediately following the definition of the WIG. Amnon explains, “After years of development and building of the most advanced desalination plants in the world, and answering dozens of tenders, we managed to combine the knowledge we’ve gained with customer requirements to create standard modules that will provide an optimal and modular solution to all sizes of RO plants, from the smallest with output of 500 m3/day up to mega-projects. The vision is the continuation and expansion of the WIG of 2013, which defined modular product development for outputs of 1,000-10,000 m3/day, and evolved into the full M2PD solution for all sizes of RO plants.”
The M2PD vision is about designing and manufacturing modular units that would form complete plants, with quick delivery time, and standard shipping with the modules packed in containers.
The M2PD principle will result in major savings in engineering and purchasing costs, high quality manufacturing and significant reduction of time for engineering, purchasing, manufacturing, set up and operations. It places emphasis on reducing setup efforts on site and reducing assembly time, which generally exposes us to exceeding the timeline and budget.
In order to transform the vision to reality, we will have to make deep changes to our work methods, as well as to how we think. We will have to look to the future and create an optimal balance between our customers’ requirements, conditions on site, and the M2PD solution, all the while taking a modular, product oriented approach.
Our long-term experience with planning and operating plants, combined with the M2PD concept, will give us a clear advantage in our competitive industry.