Research and development projects

We were the first to develop and apply benchmarking in German water industry. Taking new roads is in the nature of our company. To that end we co-operate in research and development projects with universities and institutes, with our shareholders and with trade associations.

Indicators for the economic importance of water and bodies of water

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Client
Federal Office of the Environment

Partners
University of Leipzig, Leipzig Environmental Research Centre, Emscher Wassertechnik GmbH

Duration
October 2014 - April 2017

Goals / methods / results
A large number of international studies and reports weigh up scenarios and indicators for the current situation of the use of bodies of water and water availability. In addition to the evaluation of the content and the systematisation of these approaches with regard to statements on the economic importance, the project was concerned with the evaluation of the data availability of indicators and with approaches to consolidation, so that the indicators can be used in practice in public and political discussion.

Team
Pamela Raehmel, Filip Bertzbach, Dr. Torsten Franz

Contact: Pamela Raehmel

Sustainability controlling for urban water systems (NaCoSi)

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Client
Project sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the programme "Research and Sustainable Development (FONA)" and hereby as part of the funding priority "Sustainable Water Management" (NaWaMa)

Partners
Technical University of Darmstadt (IWAR Institute), University of Leipzig, Institute of Infrastructure and Resource Management (IIRM), Armed Forces University of Munich, sanitary environmental engineering and waste technology, Institute of Social-Ecological Research and 10 industry partners from the communal supply and disposal business.

Duration
May 2013 - April 2016

Goals / methods / results
Motivations of the project are new challenges for urban water systems such as climate change, demographic changes, rising energy prices as well as shifting policy frameworks and legal targets. The sustainability of urban water companies is closely linked to these developments, which affect their own performance and endanger their sustainability.
For this purpose, NaCoSi introduces an innovative approach with which sustainability risks can be identified and controlled. It is based on common process-oriented management systems. The starting point is a system of sustainability objectives, which were developed in cooperation with the practice partners. A method for multidimensional risk identification is introduced to identify sustainability risks, which are managed as records in a risk database. The analysis of the risk database allows the examination of cross-linked risks. Severe risk factors, vulnerable processes and sustainability objectives can thereby be identified and subsequently analysed. The results are presented in company-specific risk profiles.
The sustainability controlling has been successfully tested and improved by an iterative process of case studies in cooperation with practice partners. The results demonstrate the benefit of the project’s interdisciplinary approach and the applicability of the sustainability controlling.

Team
Dr. Kay Möller, Filip Bertzbach, Peter Graf

Contact: Dr. Kay Möller

Development of a main performance indicator system for the supply of water in Germany

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Client
Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfachs e.V. (DVGW) (als Unterauftragnehmer des IWW, Mülheim an der Ruhr)

Partners
confideon Unternehmensberatung GmbH und Rödl&Partner

Duration
October 2013 - summer 2014

Goals / methods / results
Common theoretical starting point for the water supply benchmarking projects was the application of the IWA performance indicator system from 2003. Within the framework of the projects, through innovations and necessary modifications of performance indicators, the original IWA performance indicator system has been considerably further developed and adapted to the German Federal or regional boundary conditions. In some sub-areas this has led to common, parallel and also deviating developments in the individual projects.

The comparison of performance indicator results from various state projects was thus no longer universally possible.

Supplementary to the development of an "industry performance indicator system", this project  therefore elaborated a system of so-called "major performance indicators", which are proposed for in all water supply benchmarking projects.

aquabench was running this project together with confideon Unternehmensberatung GmbH and Rödl&Partner as subcontractor of IWW, Mülheim an der Ruhr.

Team
Peter Graf

Contact: Peter Graf

Determination of potentials in process benchmarking through econometric methods

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Client
Emschergenossenschaft/Lippeverband, Entsorgung + Recycling Zürich, Hamburger Stadtentwässerung AöR, hanseWasser Bremen GmbH, Münchner Stadtentwässerung, Stadtentwässerung Dresden GmbH, Stadtentwässerungsbetrieb Düsseldorf, Stadtentwässerungsbetriebe Köln AöR

Duration
December 2011 - July 2015

Goals / methods / results
The meaningful involvement of context informations and different, individual goals is a challenge to every descriptive benchmarking comparison. With this project, the results of econometric methods were measured by their contribution to the goals of the benchmarking (in particular operational optimisation and correct involvement of boundary conditions). With the multi-dimensional econometric method, one can, for selected processes (sewer construction, wastewater discharge and wastewater treatment)

  • illustrate the influence of the boundary conditions
  • increase the comparability of companies, systems and projects
  • quantitatively involve different performance features (profitability, sustainability, safety, quality and customer service) and boundary conditions in assessments 

In addition, the project was helpful for being prepared for impermissible simplifications of the performance assessment.

See publication.

Team
Dr. Torsten Franz, Dr. Kay Möller, Jan Schaper, Michael Zentner, Filip Bertzbach

Contact: Dr. Torsten Franz

Successes and future of benchmarking

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Client
Aggerverband, Emschergenossenschaft/Lippeverband, Entsorgung + Recycling Zürich, Münchner Stadtentwässerung, Stadtentwässerungsbetrieb Düsseldorf, Stadtentwässerungsbetriebe Köln AöR

Duration
January 2010 - July 2011

Goals / methods / results
Benchmarking is an instrument which, as a modernisation instrument is also an object for political and public discussion. In the years 2009 to 2011 this also applied to the application of new statistical methods and the question of provable results from over 12 years of benchmarking practice. To this end aquabench, together with individual shareholders, elaborated

  • a reliable assessment of the experience with benchmarking so far and its results,
  • a document with the most important improvement measures and developments in the utilities,
  • a documentation of the experiences with different data acquisition cycles in benchmarking,
  • recommendations for further work in the area of benchmarking,
  • proposals for internal communication within utilities and for the integration of the benchmarking results in the utility management and
  • an estimation of the benchmarking results in the light of statistical methods.

On this basis results were communicated in the subsequent years.

See publication.

Team
Dr. Kay Möller, Olaf Goerke, Filip Bertzbach, Peter Graf

Contact: Dr. Kay Möller

Assessment of river (sub-) catchment areas – development and testing of a benchmarking system

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Client
Emschergenossenschaft

Partners
Universität der Bundeswehr München, Professur für Siedlungswasserwirtschaft und Abfalltechnik; Universität Duisburg-Essen, Campus Essen, Lehrstuhl für Betriebswirtschaftslehre, insb. Umweltwirtschaft und Controlling

Duration
August 2007 - September 2009

Goals / methods / results
Integral water resources management in river catchment areas in North Rhine-Westphalia is a tradition stretching back more than one hundred years. The optimisation of planning, construction, operation and maintenance is a regular part of this work. Benchmarking has been applied to the supply drinking water and wastewater services since the mid-1990s (Matos, Cardoso et al., 2003; Schulz, Schön et al., 1998). As the first step towards a benchmarking system for the management of river (sub-) catchment areas, the Emschergenossenschaft has commissioned a pilot project.

The improvement of combinations of measures in river catchment areas necessitates going beyond the previous limits of the consideration of benchmarking. The benchmarking system should provide an overview of the essential areas of water consumption in a catchment area as well as the characteristics of the catchment area and enable pointers on the basis of various target fields (safety, quality, customer service, sustainability, profitability).

In the project, a process model at the level of a river (sub-) catchment area was developed taking into consideration the concept of the Water Framework Directive and the existing process models. The economic part takes into consideration the various cost units of the water exploitation and is aggregated as far as possible from the existing benchmarking systems at the level of the river (sub-) catchment area. Indicators for context information and processes have been preselected on this basis. The goal was to create an economical, ecological and technical image and to test it with regard to the cause-effect relationship. Moreover, the influence of the interfaces to the upstream and downstream sub-catchment areas was to be considered.

In the second step the system was applied to two sub-catchment areas in the Lippe region and the possibilities and difficulties of the data collectability were documented. Initial indicators were calculated from the data collected. Finally, possibilities to link the benchmarking system with a balanced scorecard related to a river (sub-) catchment area were identified and an initial proposal made for their design.

Team
Pamela Raehmel, Peter Graf

Contact: Pamela Raehmel

Benchmarking at utility as a component of the modernisation strategy – performance indicators and evaluation principles

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Client
Deutsche Vereinigung für Wasserwirtschaft, Abwasser und Abfall e.V. (DWA)

Partner
confideon Unternehmensberatung GmbH 

Duration
Summer 2006 to March 2007

Goals / methods / results
Against the backdrop of the Federal government's modernisation strategy, the goal was to create a common framework for benchmarking in wastewater disposal in the form of requirements for the essential main performance indicators, in order firstly to support the compatibility of the performance indicator systems and secondly to promote voluntary benchmarking. The concept elaborated describes a possibility to design performance indicators in this sense.

Team
Peter Graf, Filip Bertzbach

Contact: Peter Graf