Kevin Winchester is Head of Business Development at BRITA Vivreau. As Facilities Managers across a range of business sectors formulate rigorous winter maintenance strategies, Kevin provides advice for ensuring drinking water systems continue to function smoothly during the months ahead.
With an icy polar vortex set to descend from the Arctic in the coming months and cause temperatures in the UK to plummet, winter maintenance is likely to be prompting headaches for a number of Facilities Managers.
One crucial consideration is how to maintain drinking water systems. By following the steps below, businesses can get peace of mind that their system will keep functioning seamlessly. They can then turn their attention to incidents which can’t be planned for as comprehensively – like putting grit down on icy ground to stop staff and visitors slipping.
Take preventative steps
FMs should approach the maintenance of a drinking water system in much the same way they would a car. If you’re heading on a long journey, you don’t wait until you have broken down to make changes to the car, but rather you put measures in place before setting off. You check the tyres are pumped up, the fuel and other fluids are topped up, and that all lights and signals are working. Drinking water maintenance during the winter is much the same and should be centred on preventative maintenance and condition-based monitoring.
Facilities Managers should have a year-long maintenance regime in place and in winter it is essential to keep adhering to this. Are the filters scheduled for a change? Have electrical connections been tightened up recently? Are the pipes fully functioning?
Frozen pipes are an obvious point of concern over the winter months. However, often when it comes to drinking water systems, the pipes inside the building are less liable to freeze. In fact, a bigger concern is actually keeping drinking water in the pipes cool – this means it remains both hygienic, maintaining the biological quality of the water, and also saves energy. Facilities Managers should ensure that pipes are appropriately insulated to stop them getting too hot.
Cleaning is also crucial to maintenance. Machines should be cleaned at least once at the start of the day and once at the end of the day. Keep the whole drinking water cabinet clean with sanitising spray and a clean cloth or sanitising wipes. If nozzles are removable they should be sanitised daily, as should the surrounding area around the machine.
Drip trays should constantly be checked, emptied and cleaned – with sanitising spray or sanitising wipes. If there is a scale build up on the drip tray lid, this should be removed and cleaned with a mild descaler. If your dispense tap becomes soiled through heavy use with dried coffee and milk etc. then clean with warm soapy water and a non-abrasive cloth.
If ever in doubt about legislative obligations when it comes to drinking water maintenance, consult the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) which is dedicated to ensuring consistent interpretation and enforcement of regulations and byelaws.
Invest in quality equipment
Above, we’ve discussed some practical steps which Facilities Managers can take in order to have a successful maintenance strategy. However, the importance of quality equipment should not be underestimated. This greatly increases the chances of a drinking water system remaining almost standalone and limiting the time spent worrying about maintenance.
The beauty of BRITA Vivreau’s systems is that they are very reliable – on the condition that the kind of maintenance regime discussed above is followed. BRITA Vivreau’s team will also train the FM in how to correctly maintain the product.
Facilities Managers should consider investing in a drinking water system such as BRITA Vivreau’s LinkLine system – an inventive solution to traditional water flow in large buildings. The system requires a single chiller unit to offer purified chilled still and sparkling water, at multiple locations, on varying floors, across an entire building.
LinkLine is a method of networking your water supply, just as you would a communication network. It will continuously re-circulate the water around the pipes to ensure that freshness is guaranteed. One advantage is that it uses one chiller unit rather than lots. A system which involves fewer chillers, such as a centralised drinking water system, is likely to be more water, cost, space and energy efficient.
LinkLine also boasts a CMS which emails BRITA Vivreau and the client immediately with maintenance alerts, for instance if a certain gas is running low and needs to be replaced. Integration of systems with the internet now allows for real time tracking of barcoded items. The use of PDA’s can facilitate automated updates – providing peace of mind that the system is running without fault.
For these reasons, BRITA Vivreau has been chosen to provide drinking water for thousands of businesses around the world including the Co-op’s head office, which has been given the highest rating for sustainability and the Environmental Agency – the efficient, well insulated systems aiding compliance with ISO 14001 for Environmental Management.
Winter maintenance is tough and can be time consuming for FMs. A well thought through drinking water maintenance regime and investment in good quality products will leave FMs with one less thing to worry about as the cold bites.