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Productivity Perspectives

Kevin Parker

Kevin Parker, editorial director of Processing magazine, has been writing about process industry, automation and information-technology markets for more than 20 years.

Water & Wastewater

So elemental it's everywhere

September 19, 2012
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When this editor joined the Processing franchise about six months ago he was convinced that one key to success of a business trade magazine was focus: that the circulation, editorial content and advertising base should be a coherent whole.  And, based on a fair amount of training and experience, he still believes that today.

But the impact of globalization and massive technology and economic change on the process industries is so dynamic and far-reaching that it can prove exceedingly difficult to set bounds to said focus.

This is perhaps especially evident when it comes to Water/Waste Processing. Its electronic newsletter in recent weeks has included the following headlines:

Researchers develop biotechnology to purify fracking wastewater

New technology uses sewage sludge to produce hydrogen

California water treatment facility commissions solar energy installation

Nano technology helps reduce phosphorus pollution

Asia Pacific power industry more willing to invest in water treatment

WEFTEC to shed light on biogas

It’s often been often observed that water and energy, as the most vital of resources, are inextricably mixed. And energy brings us to the power industry. Then, probably the biggest water-related issue to emerge in recent years turns out to be the tremendous amount of produced water coming from oil and gas fields, not just in America’s emerging natural gas shale fields, but the world over. What goes on in upstream oil and gas production fields has a wealth of contrasts and comparisons with downstream process production. In short, content-wise, water is just so elemental it’s everywhere.

Another industry example might be bio-technology, including bio-pharmaceuticals and bio-energy. The editors see stories about these industry sectors almost every day. But bio-processes as yet constitute only a small fraction of total global process production capacity.

It can be even worse when it comes to industrial automation and IT systems. Suppliers rush ahead, incorporating the latest technologies – from cloud computing to analytics to planning & scheduling – while the small and medium sized enterprises that make up the vast majority of industrial companies still rely most on their spreadsheets and email.

The danger is that there’s a disconnect. Stories tend to be about the latest emerging technologies and about the industries currently growing most. Progress in processing equipment markets is more deliberate. You’ll find the tutorials and technology backgrounders appropriate to those markets well covered in the pages of Processing magazine.

But it’s different with the newsletters, so if you get a chance, drop us a line about what types of stories you’d most like to see in them. By tracking the website, we’re well aware of what stories readers most often open. And we know what we think is interesting. Still, it would be good to hear it from you.