A new internationally accredited water and environmental laboratory in Eastern Indonesia

WMD in Eastern Indonesia
The Waterleiding Maatschappij Drenthe (Water supply company Drenthe) wants to restore the water supply in several parts of Indonesia, e.g. North Sulawesi, Moluccan Islands and Irian Jaya/Papua.

The intention of this project is to establish a fully and independently operating, cost-covering Indonesian water supply company, with the capacity to supply 3 million people with drinking water. For that purpose WMD forms alliances, partnerships with local water supply companies and takes over the management of those water supply companies for a period of 15 years.

The Indonesian Water supply companies will be gathered into a holding of which WMD owns 51% of the shares. The local authorities  will provide staff and concessions. WMD provides management, knowledge and a quarter of the investment. The approach is directed towards recovery, building infrastructure, technical support and education of staff. 

Water quality
To achieve and keep the correct levels of water quality, regular inspections and audits are necessary. In Eastern Indonesia there are only a few laboratories and these have  relatively little knowledge and know-how. To determine the water quality WMD decided to build a laboratory, specialised in monitoring drinking water quality, in Manado in 2006. WLN was requested to write a proposal and to supervise the whole trajectory of the development process.

Expansion to environmental research
The selection procedure for a highly qualified native laboratory specialist with visionary and leadership skills also started in 2006. Finally we appointed Mr. Arief Rakhmadi, an internationally experienced laboratory specialist. He advised us to adjust our plans. Namely to set up not only a water laboratory but a combined water and environmental laboratory.
There are many mining companies, oil industries and other companies in Eastern Indonesia. Because of their activities they have to execute substantial monitoring programs. Indonesia follows the legislation regarding environmental regulations more strictly nowadays. Companies need to do environmental planning and have to proof, via monitoring, that they comply with the environmental legislation. Most of the samples are analysed in Java or abroad. This means that for a new laboratory great opportunities are beckoning.  

The construction and development
The process of planning and designing the building, lay-out, equipment and organisation, started in the first half of 2007. Our starting point was a laboratory of one floor of 600 square meters, in which we had reckoned with a second level in the future. The ground plan was designed in The Netherlands and the technical design was done by INOWA in Indonesia. Together with the manager of the laboratory in Indonesia a selection was made for the equipment required, including ICP-MS for analysing metals.

It took one year to build the laboratory, which started in the second half of 2007. There was some delay caused by installing necessary installations for air treatment (AC) and gases. Because of the poor continuity in energy supply and the sensibility of the equipment we installed a private emergency power unit (250 kVA) as well.

The start-up
The organisation PT (Ltd) Water Laboratory Nusantara Indonesia was officially founded in June 2008. After the foundation we started the application procedures for accreditation according to ISO-17025. Meanwhile the selection for an initial crew of four analysts from Java with working experience in international organisations, had taken place. The initial crew is responsible for further expansion of the organisation with local employees.
Methods for general chemical research, ICP-MS and biological research were drawn-up and validated. The complete quality system was ready and sent to the accreditation organisation KAN in January 2009. Auditors of KAN visited PT WLN Indonesia to audit the quality system in March 2009. The conclusion of the audit was very positive and promising:  PT WLN Indonesia is an organisation with a quality standard which is unique to Indonesia.

PT WLN Indonesia can be and will be a role model for other laboratories in Indonesia and is also the first laboratory using the LIMS-system (ILIS). After solving some small issues,  PT WLN Indonesia received the accreditation registered under LP-433-IDN on the 24th of July 2009 from the Board of KAN.

An accreditation for NEN-EN- ISO/IEL-17025 is essential to enter the market. But more is required.  Soon PT WLN Indonesia will be audited by the environmental department of Indonesia. If the audit turns out positive, PT WLN Indonesia will be a reference laboratory for the environmental sector. Coca-Cola already audited and approved PT WLN Indonesia.
Various companies and businesses, like mining companies and environmental consultancies, have visited PT WLN Indonesia already. They were all positively surprised and very keen to do business with this unique laboratory.  Being a reference laboratory has great advantages with regard to compliance with the national environmental laws and regulations.
If companies and businesses put the execution of their tests and analyses out under contract of a reference laboratory (PT WLN Indonesia), they are not obliged to present verification of the quality standards to local and national governments of Indonesia. The challenge is to find a balance in achieving profitable returns and keeping up the current level of high quality. Only then will PT WLN Indonesia remain unique in Indonesia.