Case studies - Public utilities

Back to sectors

Ballyrickard Wastewater Treatment Works

Veolia’s Optimised Operations and Maintenance (VOOM)

Ballyrickard waste water treatment works forms part of the Northern Ireland Water Omega PFI contract and has a population equivalent of 41,768. It is operated by Veolia under contract to Glen Water.

The site discharges to Strangford Lough and was upgraded in 2010 to conform to the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.

The asset base consists of new and existing (pre-contract) process streams, including inlet works, primary treatment, an activated sludge plant and UV disinfection and sludge thickening.

The challenge

Ballyrickard’s site maintenance records indicated that reactive maintenance was having a significant impact on costs. Several critical assets had also failed and the sludge dewatering performance was lower than expected. The key goals were to:

  • Substantially improve the condition of the site’s assets

  • Reinstate the original design performance standards

  • Enhance process stability and efficiency​

The solution

The VOOM framework focuses on a consistent approach to operational risk and criticality, rather than time-based maintenance and working practices. Using valuable input from Ballyrickard’s experienced personnel, Veolia studied each site’s processes. 

With greater intelligence and insight, we were then able to design a new maintenance regime based on the failure modes, effects and criticality analysis (FMECA) study outputs.

The existing processes were then gradually revised, led by Ballyrickard’s own staff. Changes to procedures in the maintenance management system were reinforced with tie-in training for administrators.

All staff were trained to NVQ Practitioner standard before the framework was implemented on site. No operational labour capacity was lost due to training.

Although the solution resulted in new working practices, staff at the facility felt reassured that their input was valued and they were critical to the sustainability and success of the process.


17% reduction in operations and maintenance cost, saving £64,000

31% reduction in equipment maintenance costs

7% reduction in energy use


The results

VOOM helped to reduce wastewater operations and maintenance costs at Ballyrickard by 17%, a saving of £64,000 for the study period covered. The solution also resulted in the facility using 7% less energy.

  • 35% reduction in sludge tankering costs

  • 31% reduction in equipment maintenance costs

  • 40% less hours spent on reactive maintenance by mechanical and electrical technicians

  • 28% less hours spent on reactive maintenance by operators

  • 26% more hours spent on planned maintenance

  • 64% improvement in sludge dewatering thickening performance 

“VOOM has provided a framework for delivering consistent operational stability and asset performance...allowing us to drive efficiencies from the ‘ground up’, across our wastewater treatment assets.”

Nick O’Hara, Omega Wastewater Operations Manager