Matt Wessel is Xylem’s Director of Strategy, Product Marketing and Engineering for Australia and New Zealand. He offers input on how quarries can fulfil their sustainability goals with smarter water management.
Looking back at 2022, how did the Australian quarrying industry perform?
The quarry industry should be proud of its resilience throughout 2022. As the nation began to emerge from the Covid pandemic, many parts of the East Coast of Australia were continually challenged by flooding and extreme weather events and the whole sector faced inflationary pressures impacting operating costs and labour shortages in a very tight employment market. Despite these challenges, the quarry industry continued to work hard to deliver aggregates such as stone, gravel and sand that are the building blocks of Australia’s building and construction industry.
What were some highlights for Xylem from 2022?
The Xylem team in Australia has had another strong year partnering with customers in various sectors including the quarry industry. Our team has enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with more of our customers face to face as pandemic restrictions eased. This has allowed us to stand side by side with customers investigating and solving their water challenges right at the source. Additionally, our team was very excited to move into our new head office in Sydney that saw us significantly expand our warehouse, service, local assembly and testing capability in a brand new 10,000 square metre facility – that is twice the size of our previous facility. This allows us to continue to deliver improved customer experiences via additional stockholdings and local assembly to provide products, solutions and services to the Australian market with increased speed.
What are some of the most popular Xylem products in the Australian extractive industry?
It is definitely our pumping solutions via our strong Flygt and Godwin brands. These extremely robust Swedish (Flygt) and English (Godwin) dewatering pump portfolios bring with them a combined 250+ years of experience in the toughest applications around the globe. However, I believe Xylem can make an even bigger contribution to the quarry sector as the industry’s partner in complete water cycle management via our full portfolio. Xylem’s proven mechanical, process and digital solutions in water treatment and water quality monitoring can provide quarries with the ability to effectively meet their environmental obligations and sustainability targets.
Have you noticed any changes in the industry’s approach to water security/efficiency?
The quarry industry continues to evolve as the bar is lifted in the areas of environmental protection and sustainable operations. This in turn is driving a strong focus on the management and value of water in quarry operations. It is no longer just enough to produce high quality aggregates, but it is equally as important how a quarry achieves this in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way. Xylem continues to partner with our quarry sector customers to introduce them to already proven technologies that support them in these areas of complete water management.
What external factors are driving decision making for quarries when it comes to choosing water solutions?
There are a range of external factors shaping decision making for on-site water solutions. Uncertainty and challenges in global supply chains, higher fuel/energy costs, labour shortages and extreme weather has seen an increased focus on higher quality, increased efficiency and more robust solutions that have extended lifetimes. Additionally, rising interest rates will likely see capital expenditure approvals start to tighten and water infrastructure investments won’t be immune here. Xylem’s premium and high efficiency product portfolio, local aftermarket service support and rental fleet provide our quarry customers a level of comfort as they tackle these challenges.
Does Xylem have any innovative products or services to launch in 2023?
Xylem continues to expand our digital offerings that supplement our well-known mechanical products like our pumps. This enhances these products to become digitally smarter water solutions, delivering higher efficiency in everyday pumping by using real time analytics and data to help make better decisions with processes using water.
What do you anticipate will be a major challenge for the Australian extractive industry in the next three years?
Net Zero and related sustainability targets that are being embraced in unison by governments and private industry are incredibly important focus areas to ensure we leave the planet in healthy shape for future generations. The Australian extractive industry, like all industries across the globe, will be working through the challenges of delivering on these sustainability commitments against the backdrop of global economic uncertainty, extreme weather conditions and labour availability challenges with an ageing population. Achieving these important but lofty targets will require collaboration across the sector and the support of key partners with specific domain expertise.
How can Xylem assist the industry with meeting these future challenges?
Xylem is uniquely positioned to support the industry in solving their water challenges that form part of this sustainability challenge. The combination of our unmatched premium portfolio of pumping, treatment, testing and monitoring equipment, plus our local team of water domain experts and access to a global Xylem network of experience means we can be a trusted partner for the industry in the water space. This allows quarries to maintain focus on optimising their extractive operations with the comfort that their water challenges are in good hands.
Any final words?
Our local communities rely on a vibrant quarry sector providing the building blocks for the construction of infrastructure and services we take for granted, like our homes, schools, hospitals and roads. Whilst the Xylem team remains focused as a company across the region to live our tag line: “Let’s Solve Water”, we’re all very driven by our purpose to live in a world where water is not a barrier to human health and prosperity, and that continues to drive us to solve water challenges with our customers and communities The best way Xylem can help our quarry customers is to be a trusted water management partner – and a way we can do that is by coming to site and evaluating every point that water touches the business and offering a “water audit”, which includes inspection advice or site audit advice. We want to track and trace water usage and help customers understand how they can better use water.
For more information about Xylem Australia and New Zealand’s water management solutions, visit: www.xylem.com/au