The equipment needed for environmental research is becoming more and more complex. Also the models and options offered are always changing and if you are working in this field it is not easy to have to hand the best and more convenient equipment for a specific assignment. For that reason the rental department at Van Walt is becoming more and more important. Our aim is to offer to our customers some of the best equipment for their different projects, with the assurance that it will be clean, well maintained, serviced and calibrated the same day it is shipped. Our UK office has been the driver in establishing a rental department and the feedback provided by customers has been very important. We have used this experience and customer response when setting up the rental departments in Spain and New Zealand.
At the start of 2013 we launched the rental department in Spain, and more and more Spanish customers are experiencing the advantages of using our rental equipment. Our aim is to be the best known provider of environmental rental equipment in the south of Europe: Spain is not a small country and our office is located in Barcelona – in the North East corner of the Iberian Peninsula. So to reach more potential customers we decided to offer a Workshop in Madrid, located in the middle of our territory and the home of some important companies devoted to environmental studies. As soon as we told some of our customers our plan we received very good feedback!
As we started to plan the content of this Workshop we realised that it would not be enough to make a simple commercial presentation of rental equipment, with some small technical tips on how and where to use it. We wanted to offer expertise on sampling methodologies, best practice and the science behind groundwater monitoring so we asked potential delegates to tell us what they wanted to hear, to ask us specific questions related to issues they had encountered in the field. We were delighted to receive lots of questions so it became vital that the workshop gave us the facilities to allow active participation of everyone attending. We wanted people to ask as many questions as they wanted.
From the beginning we tried to involve the attendants, not allowing them just to be sitting down and listening! We also gave answers to the different questions people had asked when they registered for the event. An interesting issue, for example, was how to deal with the need to purge a monitoring well when the hydraulic conductivity is very low and the replenishment of the well is very slow. For that we discussed the option of low flow purging that until now is not well known in Spain, although is already the preferred technique in more and more countries, like the US and UK.
Related to this was how to deal with purged waste so we discussed passive sampling techniques, where there is no purging. We showed the Snap Sampler and also we discussed the merits of adsorption samplers. These topics were quite new for some of the attendants and we discovered that these techniques are not currently used amongst Spanish environmental consultants and some interesting questions arose as a result of our discussions.
We also discussed the possible problems associated with sampling groundwater with a peristaltic pump when we find there are volatiles present in the water to be analysed. This technique was not seen as the optimal solution but had the important advantage of allowing quite reproducible conditions of sampling.
Overall the experience was really interesting! Twenty-one delegates participated in the Seminar, mostly from the Madrid area but also some delegates travelled from Valencia, Zaragoza, Seville and, as far away as the Canary Islands!
Before leaving the workshop we asked the attendants to complete a questionnaire: all the people answered that the topics discussed had been interesting and, what we liked more, is that people were surprised by the format of the workshop. Most were expecting a more standard commercial presentation on our extensive range of rental equipment but what they actually discovered was our different approach was really very interesting for them and allowed them to discover new ways and techniques to improve how they do their job.
Now we are ready for new versions of this workshop: in Barcelona and then Bilbao over the coming months.