Automatic Pilots

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Automatic management methods are crucial in modern water leisure commercial operations.

Automatic control has drastically reduced the risks of human error in the UK’s commercial pool sector…

It is hard to comprehend how any modern day commercial pool operator could demonstrate responsible ‘duty of care’ if they have not switched to automatic water treatment dosing.

A relic of the bygone days being practised by just a few pool-operating dinosaurs, manual dosing of chemicals directly into a commercial swimming pool is an accident waiting to happen.

Most chemicals for water treatment are hazardous to health and therefore come under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations. COSHH require an assessment of risks to be done so that risks may be controlled, exposure to the substance minimised and that operations do not pose a hazard to the health of the operator or to anyone in the vicinity.

The industry standards booklet, Swimming Pool Water Treatment, published by the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group, advises that manual dosing is rarely justified, that automatic dosing is best and that dosing systems and circulation should continue 24 hours a day.

“Manual additions of pool chemicals inevitably involves exposure to the operator carrying out the dosing and to anyone else in the vicinity and this presents a number of risks,” advises Jimmy Lamb, Bayrol product manager for Pollet Pool Group.

“There is a requirement, in Health & Safety regulations, that pool operating staff should be properly trained and that sufficient numbers are trained so that the pool and plant are never operated by untrained staff,” Jimmy continues

“Over and under dosing can cause unsatisfactory water conditions in that overdosing gives uncomfortable conditions for bathing with possibly bleached costumes, skin and eye irritation, whereas under dosing can allow organic pollutants to survive,” he adds.

As the pool is being used, any chlorine in the pool is dissipated by the bathers and the pH will change. In order to maintain satisfactory hygienic conditions it is necessary to replace that lost chlorine and control the pH as quickly as possible.

Jimmy points out: “This cannot be achieved by manual additions. It is not possible to manually dose chemicals while the pool is in use. “It follows, therefore, that the loss of disinfectant (chlorine) cannot be replaced nor can the pH be controlled within the acceptable range during the bathing period.

“Unsatisfactory conditions could prevail with the risk of transmission of waterborne disease.”

Shaun Adams a director at Golden Coast agrees: “Automatic management methods are crucial in any commercial application,” he says. “They are – without doubt – the most efficient and reliable way of achieving the level of sanitation necessary to ensure users bathe in comfort and safety. “

“Almost all commercial pools are using an automatic chemical dosing system, with varying degrees of sophistication.”

Safer, more efficient, use of chemical is achieved where the dosing of chemicals is continuous and satisfactory water quality is more easily maintained. It is usually more economic too, as with manual dosing over and under dosing is common resulting in wasted chemicals.


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Stevenage Swim Centre management have turned to chemical suppliers, CPC, for its automated dosing system

Seko manufactures a complete range of dosing equipment covering not only pumps and controllers but also a wide variety of ancillary equipment. This enables them to be a one stop shop for chemical dosing requirements.

“Certainly all commercial pools should be automatically dosed, for PH as well as chlorine,” advises Michael Tanner, product manager at Seko UK. “However I am sure there is still an amount of hand dosing and incorrectly used equipment due to a lack of application knowledge.”

Michael points out: “Commercial pools have fluctuating bather loads and requirements, so these parameters need to be constantly monitored and controlled.”


In particular Michael says Seko is looking to raise awareness of the benefits of flocculant dosing. He says: “In our experience ‘floc’ dosing, although very important, is still only used on a minority of installations. Whilst nothing can compensate for poorly installed or maintained filtration systems, flocculants will help optimise their performance.

“Apart from the obvious health benefits in helping to remove nasties such as cryptosporidium from the water, the effect of removing tiny particles not generally picked up by the filtration system enhances the appearance of the pool water.”

Flocculant dosing systems are generally stand alone and only require the minimum of installation. Although with the functionality of the Kronos pump we can also interlink to control systems, such as Seko’s K800 PH and chlorine controller.

Seko believe its in-house training has proved particularly beneficial. Says Michael: “Training is not just about increasing product awareness it also helps reduce the necessity for time consuming calls and enhances an engineers’ reputation as well as improving customer confidence.

The Pool Supervision chemical controller, from Complete Pool Controls, is helping to maintain optimum control of water treatment at many swimming pools around the UK including Stevenage Swim Centre.

One of seven swimming pools in the Stevenage Leisure Group, the Hertfordshire venue is at the cutting edge of swimming pool provision following a £2.5m makeover.

A deck level, stream lined, 33m main pool allows easy access for all and a custom made movable boom has been introduced in order to allow maximum flexibility for a diverse pool programme from teaching to competition meets.

Already the venue’s chosen provider for water treatment chemicals, it was CPC who the leisure centre management turned to when they began to experience problems with their existing automatic dosing system.

“We cannot afford to risk problems and we must always look for reliability and accuracy as well as a user-friendly system that will cut down on monitoring,” says the centre manager.

“Staff time is valuable and we always do manual testing so therefore require minimal additional monitoring of the system,” he adds.

“One of the bonuses of using CPC is that we have easy access to spares for the controller that can be part of our usual chemical order – a very convenient one stop shop.”

CPC delivered initial training for the staff at Stevenage Swim Centre, on installation and commissioning of the equipment and are on hand to provide ongoing support if and when required.

Not quite all the pool operational dinosaurs are extinct – but the message is loud and clear.

Forgetting to dose and test pool and spa water is now, generally, a problem of the past. The arrival of automatic control systems have taken away the possibility of human error, offering a win, win situation for public pool providers.

What is more, with today’s modern technology, automatic controllers have no borders; capable of monitoring and sending information all over the world.