Approvals and Accreditations

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Mechanical engineer and air valve product manager, Colin Kirkland, unpacks the Accreditations and Approvals needed and the origin and purpose of the AS4956 standard developed for the water authorities and why they are so crucial in the industry. Tune in as we discuss the recent standards Bermad has achieved for their range of air release valves for water supply, and the purpose of WSAA in ensuring these water standards are met.

Bermad Podcast - Colin Kirkland

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Sarah Hello, and welcome to controlling water, a space for us to talk valves, water meters, and interesting insights about the water industry. Each episode, we are joined in conversation by industry professionals that specialise in all things, valves, meters, and best practice knowledge in the water industry.

We are here with Colin Kirkland, from Bermad water technologies, who is the air valve product manager in Australia, and we are discussing the recent standards achieved for their range of air release valves for water supply.

Colin, thank you for joining me this morning. I’m very excited to chat with you.

Colin Good.
Sarah Can you firstly tell us what is the Australian standard 4956?
Colin It’s a good question, Sarah, it’s a standard that’s been developed for the water authority for if you’re going to include air release valves onto any pipeline or drinking water network. It’s a series of benchmarks that air release valves have to be manufactured to in order to make sure that it’s a safe working product for the pipeline.
Sarah So Colin, why was the standard developed in the first place?
Colin Yeah, that’s a good question. So going back before 2006, many waterboard engineers or designers that were utilizing a release valves was looking at the published information from many companies. And were finding that the performance out of these products wasn’t uniform. It’s difficult to say. It’s not to say that we didn’t think the information wasn’t credible, but companies have different ways of testing air release valves and demonstrating how they work and coming up with different values. And it’s not to say that they were misleading in any way, but it wasn’t uniform.

So when, for example, they were draining a pipeline and they had to have air come into the pipeline at a specific rate, they weren’t really trusting that information. So the standard was developed to say, look, if you are going to get approval to the standard, at least we know what the basis is that how you’ve tested it, it’s all uniform and we understand that the materials of construction are not going to influence the taste or the quality of the water. But importantly, the product is designed for the long term, because if you’re using a product on a water company, you want it to be fit for purpose for 30 to 50 years. And if the materials of construction are questionable to reduce the cost.

Sarah Yes.
Colin That doesn’t add up to be a long term product you want to put on. So that’s, that was the, what the benchmarks was all set out to be.
Sarah Right. So it sounds like there is a huge credibility factor around achieving this accreditation.
Colin Absolutely. It’s about credibility and trust of the information that you’re reading. Yes.
Sarah Of course. Of course, of course.

Colin, Bermad water technologies also have the WSAA accreditation. W S A A.

Colin Yes
Sarah How does the WSAA documentation work together with the AS4956 application?
Colin Sure. So Water Services Association of Australia is what the WSAA refers to.

It’s an independent company basically work for all of their members throughout Australia. So this could be water companies or users. And what they do is they actually do an appraisal of your standard that you’ve achieved. And they basically look at all that information and they hold all the documentation. So, if you went to a small water company in rural Australia, that don’t have a lot of engineers to assess if they think the products are fit for purpose, WSAA does this appraisal and publishes documents and does all the hard work for all their members to say, “We’ve looked at what Bermad have produced in achieving the certificate. We’ve got the information handy.” If any of the members come to them, they can source that information. They can see it and they trust in what they do. It’s a very trustworthy organization that independently and really scrutinizes the standards to a great degree. They give us a lot of grief. No, they don’t, they don’t give us grief. They basically make sure that the information is correct.

Sarah Right.
Colin And that’s the right way of saying it.
Sarah Yeah. They’re thorough.
Colin Yeah. Thorough. That’s the right terminology. Yes.
Sarah So having achieved these approvals for the range of plastic C10 and C30 air valves, what does this mean for the people buying them?
Colin Yes. The standard was changed in 2017 to incorporate non-metal valves or plastic air release valves. Now, if you use a plastic air release valve, it’s typically used in the irrigation industry because they’re lightweight less expensive, but if you’re using these in a water authority, you’re thinking 30- 50 years.

So the standard is extremely thorough on plastic because of UV degradation, the sunlight affecting the valves. And also the fact that for a non metallic valve, it’s got to be very safe from a water hammer aspect. So, the scrutiny that has to be done to actually achieve this certification for a plastic valve is huge. The pressures are tested to two and a half times the normal working pressure.

Sarah Wow.
Colin The temperature is elevated to a very high degree and they really make the valve work two to three times harder than a metallic valve to make sure it’s it’s going to last for the long term.
Sarah Of course.
Colin So , it’s a very, very difficult standard to achieve, but we are very proud to say that we have that on our range of C10’s and C30’s
Sarah Yes. That’s great to hear. That’s great to hear. Having the standard for the metal range of Fox RFP valves, is this different to the plastic air valves?
Colin Yes. So the standard was originally made just for metallic valves.
Sarah Right.
Colin But they decided in 2017 there was some credible products in the market by several manufacturers and plastics, so they developed that. But the metal one is also very important because water quality, even though we’re drinking it, in Australia it’s very, very different. In central and Western Australia, for example, there’s certain grades of stainless steel that we can’t use on valves that if we use them, they’ll last 12 months.
Sarah Wow. okay.
Colin So, and this is what we drink.


You know, so what the standard did for metallic valves, isthey said, look, here’s the benchmark for how you test it. Here’s the benchmark for the minimum material of construction that has to be that matches everybody.

Sarah Mm-hmm
Colin So regardless if you are in Darwin or Hobart or Perth or Sydney, the quality of the product is accredited with a metal valve is suitable anywhere for drinking water.

So it’s, again, it’s a very robust, very detailed standard, and it’s a very good trustworthy way of ensuring that it’s going to work well for the long term.

Sarah Really interesting. Let’s take a short break.

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Now back to the show.

I know, we talk a lot about risk on this podcast, Colin.

Colin Yes.
Sarah And it sounds like these standards and these accreditations also help de-risk and provide reassurance to people buying these products and using them.
Colin Absolutely.Yes.
Sarah Knowing that they’re up to certain standardsand qualifications that are safe.
Colin Exactly, Sarah. We occasionally see on television, there’s a sinkhole started because of a pipe failure, or we see a fountain of water rising up in the city.
Sarah Of course.
Colin Because something’s gone wrong. And sometimes sadly, that’s an air release valve that hasn’t been maintained or if it’s poor quality.
Sarah Right.
Colin And it’s let go. And that’s dangerous.
Sarah Absolutely.
Colin And so risk is a big thing.If you can minimize the risk by putting an air release valve in that’s been through a lot of due diligence, these standards take years and years to get approval for, it might take up to three years for us…
Sarah wow.
Colin …through a lot of development work to actually get this.

What it actually means to the end user is they’ve been through the due diligence.

Sarah Mm- hm.
Colin It’s safe, it’s of the right materials and it’s reducing the risk of putting it on. And that’s a big thing to a water company.
Sarah Definitely. Yeah, definitely. So having explained this and having talked about this a little, where can people find this information and obtain copies of the documentation?
Colin Yes, no, of course. So, first of all we did mentioned the WSAA standard. So on the WSAA website, they actually publish all of their appraisals, which we are one of them that are on there for specifically for aoir release valves. On our own website, which is, we put down all of the actual standards themselves, the certificates that we’ve achieved and together with all the other information with manuals and done data sheets, et cetera, is all there.

So if you simply go to you can download any of that information and know that it’s up to date, it’s correct, and it’s fit for purpose and hopefully it’ll buy our product.

Sarah Love that. Love that. Colin, thank you for joining me today. It’s been a great conversation as always.
Colin Pleasure. Thank you.
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  • A head-shot photo of Colin Kirkland, The Air Valve Product Manager & Victoria/Tasmania Technical Sales at BWT.


    by Colin Kirkland

    Air Valve Product Manager / Technical Training

    Colin has more than 40 years’ experience working in water supply and irrigation in Australia, including 24 years with BWT. He credits his training at Weir pumps in his native Scotland for providing him with a solid grounding in engineering.

    Colin is a mechanical engineer and a fitter and turner, who prides himself on taking a hands-on approach when designing and implementing successful installations across all aspects of BWT’s products and markets.

    As Air Valve Product Manager, Colin performs training seminars in pipeline design incorporating air release valves around Australia.

    Read more about Colin: Who’s who at BWT – Colin Kirkland

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