Xylem Inc., a leading global water technology provider and a gold member of the U.S.-Saudi Business Council, is committed to solving critical water and infrastructure challenges with innovation. Naji Skaf, Managing Director, Xylem, Middle East and Turkey, recently spoke with the Council to discuss the company’s role in addressing regional water challenges, digital innovations within Xylem’s product offerings, and its contributions to key infrastructure and construction projects in the Kingdom.
Xylem is well established for its pumps, turbines, fans, pipes, and smart meters. Could you speak more to your digital offerings and software solutions?
At Xylem, our core purpose is to solve water challenges, and we believe digital technologies hold great promise in ensuring water is managed more efficiently and effectively. This has led us to develop a suite of digital products and solutions that help our customers to solve the most difficult water and smart infrastructure issues across industrial, commercial, and residential applications.
Xylem’s well-known global brands have served the water market for many decades with products sold in more than 150 countries. We listen, learn and adapt to local environments, working in true partnership with our customers. Our brands serve a number of industries including agricultural, construction, environmental, food and beverage, government agencies, industrial, public utilities, residential and commercial building services. With deep application expertise in the water industry, we focus on producing highly efficient water technologies that use less energy, reduce lifecycle costs and provide environmental benefits to users and the communities in which they operate.
Now, as we progress forward, our focus is on helping clients implement a data-driven, decision-intelligent system through connected programs. We believe this will help utilities mitigate water loss issues across the transition line efficiently as they monitor and provide insights in real-time. This ensures accurate water accounting, whilst reducing non-revenue water loss which creates water, energy and cost efficiencies on a much larger scale.
In the past, Xylem has partnered with many Saudi entities to provide customizable water solutions. Could you speak to some of these projects?
Xylem has been present in the Middle East for over 10 years. In the Kingdom during this time we’ve also been active, contributing to key infrastructure and construction projects.
Earlier this year, our team in the Middle East & Turkey secured a large order and service agreement from National Water Company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for Wedeco Duron UV and Wedeco TAK systems for the refurbishment of projects in North and South of Jeddah.
Additionally, we locked a big contract to install dual cell filters with underdrains for use at the Shuaiba 5 desalination plant in Saudi Arabia, a new reverse osmosis plant. The plant will desalinate sea water for residential drinking applications throughout Saudi Arabia.
What do you believe are the biggest water challenges currently facing the Kingdom? How can Xylem contribute to addressing these challenges?
If we look at the Middle East region as a whole, the biggest challenges pertain to water scarcity and unnecessary water loss. This is coupled with an increase in the reliance on fresh water, which is only set to accelerate in the years ahead in correlation with a dramatic increase in population.
Adding to these challenges is the fact that the region has less than 1.5 percent of the world’s renewable freshwater. The impending climate crisis will also undoubtedly lead to severe droughts meaning drawing water will become an extremely expensive affair.
This naturally accentuates the need to introduce advanced yet sustainable technologies to the market at a rapid pace and Xylem is doing exactly that.
As a business we’ve doubled down on our R&D efforts with a view to developing digital technologies that add intelligence and functionality across the value chain. Besides that, we’re also driving adoption by making it easier for utilities to conduct start-up technology pilots, and then turn pilots into commercial deployments. This allows them to test and witness the benefits of a digital system before they commit to it in the long term.
How have Xylem’s water/wastewater treatment technologies and sustainable water solutions been applied in the Kingdom’s water sector?
Xylem is in a unique position in the water sector, reaching across both the water and the wastewater cycles with the most comprehensive portfolio of technology and services in the industry, backed by unparalleled application expertise. Over time, this has given us a powerful vantage point and the opportunity to address environmental challenges holistically through our breakthrough innovation and interoperable solutions.
In Saudi Arabia, we’ve deployed our solutions extensively. Most recently, we’ve also introduced a refined version of our best-performing N-impeller for wastewater plants, which is touted as being the first motor that can be used across industrial applications even under water. The Xylem N-impeller can monitor and troubleshoot critical wastewater challenges by providing 50 per cent more real-time data to ensure plant operators reduce unplanned maintenance due to clogging and debris buildup.
Can you speak about Xylem’s involvement in the Red Sea Project and how the Red Sea Development Company is working with Xylem to ensure the project aligns with its environmentally-friendly and sustainable development goals?
Xylem developed and supplied a buoy system to monitor water quality in the Red Sea. The system monitors temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, TSS, salinity and TDS parameters. Using a cloud-based software called HydroSphere™, real-time data is provided to The Red Sea Development Company and monitors the water quality parameters during dredging, filling, & compaction works.
As the Red Sea is of course an environmentally sensitive area, all equipment needed to be bunded to avoid spillages and any environmental impact.