With more than 30 years in the sewer and water industry, Charles Malysh knows the importance of staying ahead of the curve when it comes to new technologies. This is one of the cornerstones of Sii360 –a sewer inspection and cleaning company located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada that Malysh formed in 2013.
The company was born out of a family tragedy. Malysh was the leader of a major Edmonton contractor’s underground division working the water and sewer sector. His son Josh worked for the same company and was killed in a work place accident. Malysh tried to continue his role at the company but it proved too much.
“After I quit, I sat back and assessed things and thought about how I could make the industry better,” Malysh says. “That’s when I started looking at the best equipment I could buy and I went out to get it.”
Sii360, which works within about a 370 mile radius of Edmonton, completed its first camera job in January 2014 and has quickly grown from one camera crew, running an IBAK Panoramo setup, and one flusher truck; to five IBAK Panoramo cameras and three flusher trucks. The latest addition to the company is a Bucher Municipal RECycler 315, a three-axle, 15 cubic yard water recycling combination sewer cleaner that Malysh added in April of 2018.
“In Western Canada when I started with the camera work, I was one of the first to have the IBAK Panoramo system. Using those cameras with this recycler, we are one of the first of this type in Canada. There are other recyclers but, to me, they don’t hold a candle to this one,” Malysh says. “If we are the first out of the gate, and the customer likes what we are doing, we are always going to have them as customers. They generally won’t leave if we are doing a good job as the first company [with the technology] when the second or third company comes down the road.”
The launch of the RECycler 315 in North America about coincides with Malysh beginning his research to start Sii360. And though he has had success with his two traditional combination sewer cleaners, he recalls knowing there was a better, more efficient, way to do business. His research, and several trips to the annual Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show (WWETT Show), led him to IBAK and eventually Bucher Municipal.
“I started doing research when I formed the company because I saw that we lose so much time with production when you drive to get water and then drive back and have to set up and take down each time,” Malysh says. “With this type of truck, you can stay in one location all day long as long as you are catching the liquids that are coming down the line. It also makes for a greener environment because I am not using potable water that can be used by the people.”
Why IBAK and Bucher Municipal products? If there is one thing Malysh learned in his time in the sewer and water construction industry, when looking for new technologies, it is important to look towards Europe first. “They have had sewers for 1,000 years, or more, whereas North America’s are maybe 300 years old. Europe has adapted to a better system and if you look at the sewer and water equipment they use, I would say North America is 15-20 years behind the technology coming out of Europe,” Malysh says.
After adding the Bucher unit to his fleet, Malysh quickly began seeing the improved production he envisioned. Up front he saw the increased productivity of his camera crews, which typically inspect behind the sewer cleaner. Normally there comes a time, at least once, in a day where the camera crew has to stop while the flusher truck goes to refill its water. “When the traditional combo unit has to leave to get more water, by the time the operator comes back it’s about 30 minutes, the camera crew is waiting for the flusher truck,” Malysh says.
Malysh estimates, based on the job, that with his traditional trucks he uses anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 gallons a day in potable water. That water is then flushed down the line and returned to the treatment plant. The cost of the use of that water and the treatment is passed on to the ratepayers. He can fill the recycling unit with about 750 gallons of water and go to work for the full day.
Where he’s seen the most aversion to change is with customers, though that is coming around as they see the production and green benefits of a recycling sewer cleaner. “It’s hard to get people to use something new sometimes, but once they do, they don’t want to use the other technologies anymore,” he says. “The customers have never seen a recycler [truck] and now that they are getting used to it and seeing what we can do with it, that is the truck they want to use. They don’t want us to bring a regular flusher to the job.”
One of the most recent projects where the RECycler was brought in, is for the small Town of Devon, about 16 miles outside of Edmonton where Sii360 crews were flushing culverts with a lot of rocks inside of them.
“With a standard flusher, at 80 gpm and a small head, I need full pressure to wash the volume of rock because it’s about one-third full in the bottom. To pull all of the rock 100 m [328 ft] or so, that takes a lot of pressure and volume. By the time I get the rock moving I am out of water, and I need to go fill up with water,” he says. “With the RECycler, I have the advantage of 1.5 times the pressure, I can get a bigger head because I have 1.25-in. hose and I am pulling that rock steady and recycling the water so I can keep going.”
He estimates that, with a standard flusher he would have to stop every 30 to 40 minutes to refill or have a water truck onsite. All of which drives the cost up. True, Malysh gets paid more to run the recycling unit, but he estimates that his productivity is at least two times better.
He also points out that the increased productivity means that whoever is following his project, whether it’s a relining contractor, a road repair crew or another entity, they also see increased productivity. And in a region that has a small window for construction season, those saved days are key. There is also a benefit for the municipality, which can let its citizens know they are using more green technologies.
“To me one of the biggest things is that we are [more] green because I am not taking chlorinated water that people could be using for drinking and other uses,” Malysh says. “It is less [strain] on the water system to make. Water, some day if it is not there, I don’t know what the world will do without it.”
Based on the reality of water scarcity – in some regions – and the increased productivity, Malysh thinks it is only a matter of time before system owners start mandating the use of water recycling sewer cleaning systems.
Malysh will be ready when this happens because he plans to continue to stay ahead of the curve in 2020 with the addition of a new recycling combination cleaner, the addition of PVC lining and moving into a new shop.
“We have all of the equipment for the cleaning and assessment and this [pipe relining] falls right into place because a lot of the towns we work with don’t want to dig-in anymore,” he says. “We’ve grown about 400 times in six years, as long as people go to the bathroom every day, I have work. People laugh about it, but it’s true.”