The challenge lies in making effective solutions affordable

Waterbedrijf Groningen has been working with Imbema for many decades.

Among the products procured and implemented by the water company over the past few years are the Hawle-E2 shut-off valve and the wide-range coupling. Has the partnership been a success? We talked to Remco van Kan, head of Procurement and Logistics.


Remco is responsible for all the company’s procurement requirements, from sugar cubes to pumping stations. The Waterbedrijf is a project-based organisation which means that a different team – including the procurement department – is always put together for each project. The company covers a wide range of areas including infrastructure, mechanical engineering, electrical and facilities projects.

For the supply of products, outside the framework agreements concluded and for items above €10,000 as standard, quotations are requested from the market. First of all, standards are determined by the materials committee while taking past experience into account. Then Procurement can get to work. One of the major projects that Remco was recently involved in was the new logistics centre which was officially opened on 11 April 2018. This building is completely sustainable with solar panels, heat pumps and no gas. Sustainability is one of the water company’s priorities.

Remco van Kan Waterbedrijf Groningen

Collaboration between Waterbedrijf Groningen and Imbema


The company’s working relationship with Imbema goes back a long way and started a long time before Remco joined the company in 2003. Imbema is known for its work on water infrastructure projects.

Remco: ‘Hawle is one of Imbema’s top brands. Nowadays, you see more and more competitors coming onto the market. You see trends in society, making innovation move faster than ever before: gluing is an issue, sustainability is an issue, health and safety is an issue and raw materials are an issue. The market is gaining momentum. Imbema focuses on a number of products, follows trends and supplies high-quality products.’

‘Imbema supplies good products. Performance and delivery reliability are extremely good. Bert van der Giessen (senior sales engineer, Imbema) helps us and the arrangement works very well. Hats off to Bert!’

Remote monitoring not a priority


New developments involving ‘smart’ remotely controllable solutions are not currently top of the list of priorities for Waterbedrijf Groningen. For there is tension between costs and revenue. According to Remco, all the shut-off valves within the water company are properly surveyed via GPS which is a requirement stipulated in the Exchange of Information on Underground Networks Act (WION).

Pilot Hawle-E2 gate valve and wide-range coupling


‘In 2015, we purchased a Hawle-E2 valve for work in Appingedam which has been extremely successful. It is a ‘deluxe’ shut-off valve which opens and closely very easily under pressure. It is relatively expensive. That is always the trade-off. We supply the material to the contractor who installs it. Nowadays, we find that we are using these more and more, just on really important valves such as important transport pipelines.’

Imbema supplies Waterbedrijf Groningen with wide-range couplings based on a framework agreement. This contract is due to expire and will be put on the market again.

A wide range: heat & water projects by Remco van Kan


Since 2014, Remco has also been the Project Manager for the Europapark HCS facility, a large collective heat and cold storage network which customers can be connected to. This is a separate partnership between the Municipality of Groningen and Waterbedrijf Groningen Duurzaam and comes under WarmteStad BV. Over the past few years, the project has gained momentum due to the improving housing market and the associated improvement of the sustainability of our energy demand.

The whole design is based on ‘good measurement’ – the measurement of the sources, flow rate, the amount of heat entering and exiting the heat pump, etc. – which is required for good operational management. It is centrally connected and can be read remotely. It comes as no surprise to Remco that Imbema is also active in this field, providing smart metering solutions for energy flows.

The greatest challenge presented by sustainability lies in making the assets affordable: how do you stay within budget? For the margins are very low.

Priorities for water company in the coming period


The water company is changing rapidly. Its priorities are to renovate the water infrastructure, further develop WarmteStad, improve sustainability and reduce the use of glue on account of the Working Conditions Act.

Remco: ‘We are a relatively small water company. We have to keep a close eye on costs while still remaining reliable and maintaining an effective network. Consequently, we are focussing on expansion, renovation and improving efficiency within our subsidiaries like WarmteStad. We also want to improve sustainability and keep our assets in order.

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