Promote human talent and an innovative culture among its teams: This is the aim of the Aqualia Innovation Awards “i4U”, an initiative that has involved more than 10,000 potential innovators around the world. In the first edition of the “i4U” Awards, 48 proposals were submitted, aimed at improving the quality of processes and services, the preservation of health and respect for the environment. The project by Patricio Hermosilla, plant manager at the Medina del Campo (Valladolid) wastewater treatment plant, was the winner. Jordi Palatsi, plant manager at the Lleida WWTP, won the Jury’s Accesit, and Andrés Sanabria, foreman at Puerto de la Cruz (Canary Islands), took the Employees’ Accesit.
The search for talent and innovation within a company not only leads to having the best technology and the most cutting-edge processes to provide an excellent service to customers, but also strengthens employees’ commitment to the organisation and the brand. Under this premise, Aqualia has just presented the Aqualia Innovation Awards “i4U”, an initiative aimed at developing internal talent and promoting an innovative culture among its employees, whom the company considers to be a pool of potential innovators around the world.
Patricio Hermosilla, Plant Manager at the WWTP (Wastewater Treatment Plant) of Medina del Campo (Valladolid) won this first edition of the Awards. His proposal involved harnessing the dehydrated sludge discharge pipe to the silo to carry out a risk management process by applying an insulating material to the pipe. This new system will simplify the construction of a sludge sanitisation and risk management line. Furthermore, the idea has a high potential for implementation in those plants that, in view of the imminent legislative change, need advanced sludge sanitisation risk management to achieve the condition of “suitable” for agriculture.
Pedro Rodríguez, Aqualia’s Director of Tenders and Operations presented the prize, a travel voucher worth €3,000, at a ceremony held at Aqualia’s corporate headquarters in Madrid. “It is an idea that I had been thinking about for years, I saw the opportunity to present it to the Awards and hopefully we will soon be able to implement it in the wastewater treatment plant where I develop my professional career, in Medina del Campo”, said Patricio Hermosilla in his speech after receiving the First Prize.
In addition to the first prize, the “i4U” Awards recognised the work of Jordi Palatsi, Plant Manager at the Lleida WWTP, with the Jury’s Accesit. His proposal would create a control system that reduces the time and speeds up the management of sludge thickening in wastewater treatment plants, based on the online analysis of sludge height and drained sludge by means of low-cost probes. The jury praised Palatsi for his “great involvement in the Innovation Awards and the high scores obtained in his two proposals submitted: ‘Autonomous Thickener Control System’ and ‘Access Control'”. Luis de Lope, Aqualia’s International Director, presented the prize, a travel voucher valued at €1,500.
Finally, the votes of his colleagues have awarded Andrés Sanabria, Aqualia’s foreman at Puerto de la Cruz (Canary Islands), the Employees’ Accesit. Nearly 500 employees took part in an open vote. The selected project proposes the development of a mobile application to unify all existing telecontrol systems in a more efficient and practical way, in a “user-friendly” environment for operators. This results in a considerable reduction of working times. The Aqualia foreman received his prize, a travel voucher valued at €1,500, from Isidoro Marbán, Aqualia’s Director of Economics and Finance.
Innovation and talent, key values for Aqualia
“Innovation is part of Aqualia’s culture. The proof is that we have created these Awards, which are open to all the company’s activities, and we have received proposals in all areas”, said Félix Parra, CEO of Aqualia, who has also assured the second edition of the Awards.
The development and application of innovative procedures and practices reinforce the company’s competitiveness in its performance within the end-to-end water cycle and convey Aqualia’s commitment to promoting social and labour welfare, and research and innovation in sustainable solutions.
Through the implementation of initiatives such as the “i4U” Awards, Aqualia contributes to the generation of structural changes in its production model and culture, directly involving its employees and managers, in line with SDG 6 “Clean water and sanitation”, SDG 9 “Industry, innovation and infrastructure” and SDG 12 “Responsible production and consumption”.
Innovation is one of the values traditionally associated with Aqualia’s management in the areas where it provides services. Thus, in the latest surveys carried out among its institutional customers (representatives of the public administrations with which Aqualia works), 88% of those surveyed spontaneously associated Aqualia with the value of “innovation”.
Aqualia conceives innovation in a broad sense, as “a more efficient way of doing things” and linked not only to its R&D department, but also to the 10,525 people who make up its workforce and who, in their day-to-day work, permanently seek the well-being of the citizens to whom they provide their services.