Voluntary benchmarking since 1996 has led to an impressive number of change measures and improvements in the industry. Benchmarking is used for performance assessment, for improvement and for informing both committees, boards and the public.
In the meantime, more than 800 utilities have run projects with aquabench GmbH, of which many of them are regularly repeated.
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Examples of success
Benchmarking works at various levels. Operators must thereby always consider individually the effects of possible optimisation measures on efficiency, safety, quality, customer satisfaction and sustainability. We have examined the effects of the benchmarking for all performance features in a stock taking of our projects in the wastewater services (2012) as well as for bulk suppliers of drinking water (2018).
Five examples follow:
The accuracy of cost planning is very important for the budget planning. In sewer construction process benchmarking, the accuracy of the cost planning is illustrated at several points in time (cost assumption, cost calculation, cost estimation). In this case an operator used the large number of projects placed on the aquabench online platform for support in the mid- and long-term budget planning. The specific costs (€/m) for the respective type of project are adapted to the results from the online database depending on the various parameters (e.g. design, depth, diameter and groundwater) and high planning security is obtained. In this way the accuracy of the cost planning could be increased within the framework of the draft planning. The deviation between the calculated and actual costs was reduced from 46% to 3%.
Improvement of the accuracy of the cost planning of a benchmarking participants
The mixed structure of the order (local and central) was checked in the benchmarking of supply management. Unusually long routes were noticed with one participant for the processing of invoices (signatures / invoice verification) and material acceptance. The consequence was a reorganisation in the finances area, the establishment of an invoice verification team and a revision of the organisational instructions (e.g. signature regulations). The resulting savings amount to €449,000 per year. In addition, the benchmarking has led to a decision to introduce new central catalogues for the ordering (e.g. of protective work clothes and office material) and the checking in order to increase the framework contract quota. Thus the quality of the rendering of services has been improved in addition to the savings achieved.
In the laboratory process benchmarking, a company improved the laboratory organisation and, through qualification, enlarged the assignment spectrum of the employees, i.e. on average an employee can use more analysis methods than before. The number of methods per full-time equivalent has been increased by 12% in the first year and by 20% in total in the second year. This leads to more flexible assignment, in particular in the case of illness and holidays of other employees as well an increase in performance, since more analyses can be carried out per day and fewer idling times arise. Furthermore, more samples can be analysed promptly, as a result of which the operation of the wastewater treatment plant has become simpler and safer with respect to the dosing of chemicals. As a result, customer service and in particular the quality of the wastewater disposal have been improved.
In the benchmarking project "indirect discharger monitoring", a utility recognized that other utilities are using smaller column strengths for the sample frames. A corresponding changeover resulted in savings of 230.000 €.
Change of crew strength in the indirect discharger monitoring process
An example of success from benchmarking experience with bulk water suppliers concerns the generation of energy. The reflections were sparked by a keynote address, which was part of the project meeting for the 2010 fiscal year. To generate energy pumps were retrofitted as turbines on the container inlet to reduce the pressure surplus, which results from the natural height difference. So far, the company has already saved 58,099 euros and generates more than one million kilowatt hours from hydropower.
Energy generated by hydropower through turbines (triggered by best practice example)