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Bringing progressive technologies and innovative solutions to the forefront of Flanders’ water market


Turning the


In the wake of a successful 2018, Flanders’ primary water provider will continue to leverage innovation, differentiation and digitalisation in order to excel throughout the coming year Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Richard Thomas

water-link is really on the move. What we promised last year is now really becoming a reality for Antwerp and the wider region.” Almost a year to day the day since we last spoke with CEO Franky Cosaert, it’s evident that Flanders’ primary water provider has experienced a revolutionary 12 months. Working alongside an array of clients that include regional residents, industry players and other water suppliers, water-link reached a new milestone earlier this year, now accounting for 40 percent of the Flanders region’s entire water needs. However, in the eyes of Cosaert, there’s much more to come for 2019. Recent months have seen one of Europe’s largest petrochemicals companies, INEOS, naming the Port of Antwerp as the home of its new €3 billion cracker plant, while fellow industry stalwart Borealis equally revealed that it would be investing approximately €1 billion in the development of a propane



dehydrogenation plant in the region. Two facilities that will undoubtedly bring countless benefits to Flanders, water-link is set to play a substantial role in facilitating their success through the provision of process and demineralised water.

THE WATER-LINK STORY A business founded in 1881, water-link currently stands as Flanders’ leading water provider, accounting for 40 percent of the regional market as of 2019. An industry stalwart, the company has remained adaptable during the 138 years since its inception, now commonly associated with industry progression and innovation. From the development of transformative solutions to the enablement of collaboration through smart partnerships, the firm has become synonymous with efficiency and technological progression, safeguarding the municipality’s water supplies. To date, water-link has produced 140 million cubic metres of water, serving 193,000 customers through its extensive pipeline network that spans 2,500 kilometres.



“Antwerp is really an exciting place to be at the moment,” states Cosaert. “It’s fantastic news for the economy, and these new demands, combined with other developments, have motivated us to expand our capacity and improve our efficiencies in innovative ways.”

From concept to reality

Driven by these ambitions, waterlink remains heavily involved in an enterprising investment programme, ending 2021, that will position the


company at the forefront of Flanders’ water market for many years to come. “In my eyes, we stand apart from the competition by emphasising innovation in all our activities,” explains Cosaert, a differentiator that is apparent in a range of the company’s recent endeavours. “We began full-scale deployment of smart water meters in October 2018, for example, with the expectation that each and every one of our clients will possess one of these,” the CEO


continues. “Already 5,000 of our customers have been provided with these smart meters, and we’re hoping to be one of the first company’s in Europe to provide this full scope by the end of 2021.” Moreover, water-link’s Intelligent Control Centre (ICC) is starting to be actualised, with the firm having commissioned an architectural business to begin building the flagship facility that is expected to be operational by 2021.



W A T E R - L I N K

Set to replace the firm’s existing three existing, separate centres, the ICC will provide a much more transparent, efficient and seamless way of managing its ever-growing water distribution network. “Within this facility we’ll be implementing state-of-the-art software that has been helping to transform our operations,” Cosaert states. “We’re now able to use remote

sensoring, data analytics, the internet of things and other technologies that can be interpreted, providing network diagnosis and making us better aware of what’s happening throughout our supply chain. “Previously such mechanisms weren’t possible, but we’re keen to take advantage now that such technologies have come to market and are available.”



e help utility companies in the water, gas and energy and telecommunications sectors make the right DECISIONS and make sure the benefits are DELIVERED. We provide advisory services, project and process management and analysis and these are all underpinned by our deep subject matter expertise and stakeholder engagement capabilities. Customer centricity We help utility companies to further increase their knowledge about their customers via statistical fact based (market) analysis and to implement the recommendations which deliver the benefits. Reshaping the utilities market: The impact of new central market systems and/or data hubs Continuous and frequent changes in regulations are also increasing the pressure on the market to meet more complex requirements and tighter deadlines. In addition, market changes are resulting in greater centralisation, such as the introduction of data hubs, which are influencing the strategic choices and investments of market players. New technologies, new services, new business models, new markets We help our utilities customers explore these opportunities, assessing how new technologies and services can be brought to market within the existing framework and/or identifying what changes are required to make this possible. Xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx

Achieving business excellence in the digital age Leading utilities are focused on moving to more customer-centric business models and achieving operational excellence. Advancing technologies, such as smart meters and grids, cloud computing, digital, data and predictive analytics, and social media, create opportunities to launch new products and services and deliver a more retaillike customer experience. Sharing of knowledge is crucial at water-link, as demonstrated by the images above of colleagues collaborating

Visit our success cases at: Xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx



We help utility companies make the right DECISIONS and make sure the benefits are DELIVERED





Water Utilities face intensifying pressure to increase efficiency, improve customer service, adapt to changing regulation, deliver security of supply and offer new valuable services. At Water-Link, Trilations teams are responsible for optimizing customer2invoice, maintenance/supply chain and finance processes.

Go visit our succescases at:


W A T E R - L I N K

water-link and Pidpa leaders announce their strategic partnership

A renewed approach

The implementation of innovative systems, however, is just one aspect of water-link’s atypical approach to utilities. An industry that has often been defined by division and competition, water-link has challenged this status quo as a leading advocate of cooperation and multi-utility unity. This in mind, the company has been fundamental to the development of a collaborative platform that has become crucial to the municipal government, providing an outlook of utility demands from which overriding strategies can be calculated. “This multi-utility software that includes not only water providers but equally gas, electricity and telecommunications players is a revolutionary tool, and one we’re particularly proud to be involved with,” Cosaert reveals. “In the current day and age, we feel cooperation is no



We’ve also implemented rain water plants across many communities... We have to try and retain water for longer and reuse it wherever possible” longer a luxury but a necessity. “The consequences of climate change are clear to see – 2018 was a record dry year and 2019 is already abnormal – and so it is becoming increasingly important that we collectively implement the right solutions in order to safeguard our access to clean water.” This outlook has similarly seen water-link developing a range of smart partnerships such as its collaboration with Pidpa, a fellow Antwerp-based water supplier. “This has become a crucial part of our strategy,” Cosaert reveals. “In

regard to the Pidpa partnership in particular, we’re expecting to have a triangular production setup in place between our northern site, southern site and Pidpa’s own sites, operational by 2022. “We’ve also implemented rain water plans across many communities,” he adds. “We have to try and retain water for longer and reuse it wherever possible.”

A pioneer of change

A true pioneer of sustainability, waterlink has successfully established itself as a preferred employer, attracting






Aven Ackers 14 9130 Verrebroek Tel. : +32 3/735 03 70 Fax.: +32 3/735 03 79 Soga nv has 3 departments:


Bisschoppenhoflaan 515-517 2100 ANTWERPEN 03 360 50 80

Van de Ven Starrenhoflaan 1 2950 KAPELLEN 03 664 04 90


Jan Van Rijswijcklaan 298 2020 ANTWERPEN 03 827 79 10


Mechelsesteenweg 258 2500 LIER 03 4 881 881

Autopolis Leuven Brusselsesteenweg 57 3020 LEUVEN 016 31 05 10

4,3-8,8 L/100KM.

De Kort

Kapelsesteenweg 76 2930 BRASSCHAAT 03 641 98 00

1. Sewage Maintenance and street infrastructure maintenance: Our firm has many years of experience, with a selection of projects including: - Road maintenance on the regional roads and motorway roads all over Flanders - Sewage maintenance for Aquafin, Waterlink, Infrax and De Watergroep. This includes a 24/7 alarm system, where we can send a team on an intervention within 2 hours. Flexibility is the Company’s strong point. 2. Road - Infrastructure Construction of many big projects, with a strong emphasis on diversity 3. Landscaping, development and maintenance of public and private green spaces Green maintenance on the regional and motorway roads in districts


Antwerpsesteenweg 273 2800 MECHELEN 015 55 60 71

Autopolis Zaventem Leuvensesteenweg 438 1930 ZAVENTEM 02 785 02 40

112-228 G/KM. (NEDC)

Verbruiksvoorwaarden en CO2-emissies (voor personenwagens) zijn gemeten volgens de nieuwe WLTP test procedure voor een voertuig in de basisuitrusting. Optionele uitrustingen (inclusief optionele velgen en/of banden) kunnen het verbruik en de CO2-emissie beïnvloeden. De aangegeven NEDC waarde (NEDC 2.0 voor personenwagens) is afgeleid van de WLTP waarde en wordt gedurende een overgangsperiode (tot max. eind 2021) gebruikt o.a. voor belastingdoeleinden. De overheid kan echter vóór het einde van deze overgangsperiode de WLTP waarden gebruiken voor belastingdoeleinden hetgeen de fiscaliteit van het voertuig kan beïnvloeden. Raadpleeg uw dealer voor meer informatie. Milieu-informatie [KB 19/03/2004]:

aspirational people to the company as a result of its socially responsible practices. “There are good employment opportunities in Antwerp,” states Cosaert. “Young people have a lot of choice, yet we often see promising individuals joining us because of the innovation and sustainability aspects that our business offers in the way of opportunity. “It’s an industry where you can make a real difference.” Further, the firm actively encourages employee involvement in the aim of not only developing technical and soft skills, but equally in order to allow its esteemed staffing pool to be an internal source of creativity and innovation. “We invest around €900,000 each year in education and training alone in order to provide a progressive platform to our people,” Cosaert continues. “water-link also collaborates with the University of

SMART PARTNERSHIPS water-link has signed an array of smart partnerships with both local and international industry experts including: • Pidpa • Aquafin

Antwerp, readily providing both current students and graduates with an abundance of opportunities.” Looking ahead to 2020, water-link will remain driven by the consolidation of its position as a trendsetter, preferred partner and preferred employer, while the business will further expand into new areas, emphasising anything from substantiated CSR to profound tech developments, retaining its status as a pioneer of change. Cosaert concludes: “Here at waterlink we are ready to play our role in changing the water landscape of Flanders.”

• Nereus • RIWA • Water Reuse Europe • Warmte@zuid

water-link Tel: +323 24 40604



Mechelsesteenweg 66 2018 Antwerp Belgium Tel: +32 3 2440604

Profile for Outlook Publishing


Water-Link Business Brochure - Europe & Middle East Outlook Issue 29


Water-Link Business Brochure - Europe & Middle East Outlook Issue 29