Interview with Daniel Ladenberger, Head of Engineering.
Mr Ladenberger, you are highly valued at H2O not only as an experienced technical director, but also as a walking encyclopaedia of sorts. How long have you been with H2O?
I’ve been with H2O since the very beginning. I worked at Mannesmann Demag Wittig for two years before Matthias Fickenscher and Frank Schlegel bought the company’s vacuum distillation division and founded H2O. I’ve been working in the Design and Development department at VACUDEST now since the beginning of 1997.
What was your impression of VACUDEST back then?
It was very compact! And it was a bit of a challenge to maintain because it had such a narrow frame. There were some growing pains at the beginning, but I was there to help resolve them.
What kind of issues were there, and what did you do to solve them?
I redesigned and simplified the VACUDEST, first of all, in order to make it easier to maintain. I removed the discharge pumps, which allowed us to use fewer valves and simplified the piping. This is how the very narrow VACUDEST Classic became the more spacious VACUDEST NT in 1999. This newer model was very successful for almost ten years until we brought the current range onto the market. I also implemented what I learnt while completing my master’s thesis. The VACUDEST had a problem with scaling in the heat exchanger. So we developed the technology to prevent scaling in the inner pipes of the heat exchanger by circulating the particles. We named this ceramic-based fluidised bed ‘Activepowerclean’. All of the systems we sell today feature this technology.
What are the first words that come to mind when you think of VACUDEST?
An elegant, stable system!
As Head of Engineering, you have made huge contributions towards developing the VACUDEST. Which of these many innovations meant the most to you?
I would say it was the new Vacutouch control system. It was a crucial technological step for us to switch to a PC-based control system. It can do so many things better than our old microprocessor control system.
Could you give us an example?
It is easier to operate and provides very precise measurements. It also has better sensor monitoring and features a wide range of control functions. Furthermore, you can access it remotely, allowing you to carry out precise error analyses without being on site. These features benefit not only us but also our customers enormously.
Do the challenges become easier as time goes by, since you gain more experience and understand the VACUDEST better?
The current VACUDEST has been perfected to such a degree and is so stable that it no longer causes any problems. However, everything surrounding it – from how the customers purchase the system, to how we transport it, service it, and tend to all the individual applications – has become far more involved and complicated. This is what keeps us busy and challenges us day-to-day. Our breadth of experience is a great advantage for finding solutions to these challenges.
What developments do you have planned for the near future?
Right now, our aim is to successfully launch the new XXL and L 8,000 systems for our clients in various fields of application. We will then fill in some of the gaps in the current range by developing a few more system sizes. In addition, we are working on improving the distillate quality even further. In my view, the most important challenge when it comes to project management is developing these increasingly complex treatment systems in a reliable and profitable way. This is an area where we still need to carry out a few measures.
What do you think the future holds for VACUDEST?
We’re never short of ideas about the future. What we want, of course, is a system that is even more energy efficient, makes the distillate even cleaner and makes the concentrate even more concentrated. We have many ideas on how to achieve these goals and we are working on gradually implementing them. In a few years, there will be no better alternative to VACUDEST for wastewater treatment.
What was the biggest compliment you received about the VACUDEST and who gave the compliment?
It was for the last project that I oversaw as Project Manager. We were working for a difficult customer who had many requirements. After we completed the project, he told me: “That was excellent work, you’ve created a great solution for me.”
Imagine that VACUDEST is a close friend of yours who has been in your life for many years. You have spent a lot of time together, experienced many things and faced many of life’s challenges together. What would you wish him to his 30th birthday?
I wish you a long and healthy life! And I hope you’ll be at our side for a long time yet.