Adam Abel is a man of few words. But when asked to talk about the key strengths of his business, Northern Water, he speaks with confidence: “The knowledge and support that we give on our products.” This comment is backed by an impressive customer base, which includes: the Australian Navy, Australian Border Force and the Queensland Water Police.
Based in Cairns, Northern Water has been supplying, manufacturing and servicing water treatment equipment for over 17 years. Over this time, the business has built a rapport for having extensive product knowledge and topping this up with quality after-sales support.
With a combined experience of over 20 years in the water treatment industry, the team handles all aspects of design, manufacture, repair, installation, commissioning and maintenance of seawater and brackish water reverse osmosis plants. Northern Water’s experience also extends to micro filtration systems, all forms of sediment removal and numerous other water treatment technologies.
“We like to get it done right the first time,” says Adam. “Water treatment is a specialised field. No two customers are the same. So, whether it is installing seawater desalination systems on a remote island or providing high pressure pumps for large navy vessels, we always stand by our products and services.”
With a job as critical as water treatment, Adam says Northern Water must be selective in choosing industrial suppliers. The BSCCairns branch has been a trusted supplier for the business since its early days.
“We can’t just walk into a shop and say: ‘I’ll have one of those.’ There is a lot of homework behind everything that we purchase from BSC,” says Adam.
With BSC’s expertise on bearings – as Australia’s largest bearing and power transmission distributor, Adam says the technical support from BSC is crucial when dealing with sensitive projects, such as those for the Australian Defence.
“We utilise BSC’s expertise on the bearing side of things, as well as for belts, lubricants and other parts and components we require in our manufacturing,” says Adam. “BSC has always been able to support us with quick turnaround on orders. On occasions when we need documents and product specifications to supply to our customers in the Defence, BSC has been able to supply us the required information quickly and accurately.”
With generators and pumps for desalination systems often placed in humid, salty environments, the choice of the right lubricants for such equipment was something that Northern Water sought BSC’s advice on a few years ago.
“We were using a lubricant brand and we were looking for an alternative product. In consultation with BSC, we were able to identify the equivalent products from Gulf Western Oil, which met our criteria very well. We now use Gulf Western Oil products extensively in our remote generator units, as well on high-pressure pumps for vessels to keep them going,” says Adam.
Products such as the Gulf Western Oil Superdraulic 68 and Turboil 40 engine oil can be seen in bulk storage drums around Northern Water’s workshop. Adam says he is so pleased with the lubricants he even uses them in his own tractor for personal use.
“Gulf Western Oil is a good product. It does what it promises to do and that’s why we have stuck with it.”
Steve Keown, National Product Manager for Lubricants at BSC explains why Gulf Western Oil products are the perfect lubricants for Northern Water’s needs.
“Gulf Western Oil products are Australian-made and the feedback we have received from our customer base at BSC has always been very positive. Gulf Western Oil’s Turboil 40 engine oil has a low ash formulation which minimises the formation of deposit in sensitive two stroke diesel engines. The additive system is also designed so that the oil TBN remains high throughout the drain period protecting equipment against acidic combustion products,” says Steve.
“Similarly, Superdraulic 68 is an excellent hydraulic oil which has proven to have superior wear and corrosion protection,”
And with the type of applications where Northern Water equipment get implemented, those features definitely become essential. As Adam explains, the bar on lubricant quality and performance is set high with customers such as the Australian Navy and the Australian Border Force.
“We are sometimes asked to conduct oil sampling on our larger desalination plants. This is offered as part of our service package. But the Navy and the Border Force conduct the sampling processes themselves. If the oil doesn’t stand up, if the sample testing finds the oil is burnt or perished, we could get a notification that the high-pressure pump has had a high metal count. But luckily, we haven’t received any such calls as yet. There hasn’t been any issue with servicing schedules or reliability on any piece of equipment we have serviced and there is testing to support that,” says Adam.
Oil analysis is a service that the BSC team can also provide upon customers’ requests, Steve elaborates.
“An oil analysis program, which we can put in place for any plant in collaboration with Gulf Western Oil, ensures that oil changes happen when they need to not sooner, and not later. There are also additional benefits in oil analysis, apart from adjusting the oil change interval. A comprehensive test can tell us if any equipment has excessive wear or ingress into the oil and this in turn helps extend the oil longevity,” says Steve.
With a growing list of customers, Northern Water has its eyes set on growth. And as the business grows, Adam says the requirement for quality products from BSC will remain strong.
“We are now planning to venture towards solar operated seawater desalination plants. It’s something that we currently have the technologies for. And even though those plants will not require lubricants as they won’t have generators, there is always going to be demand for high pressure pumps for the Defence force, there is always going to be need for generators for the remote Aboriginal communities of Torres Strait Islands. That list of customers is growing all the time.”