Food processing is no business for guesswork. As such, Victor Silva has no qualms about calling on the expert when a question arises for the Building and Facilities Management Department at the Maple Leaf Foods plant in west-end Toronto.
For the better part of two decades, Aqua Fast Flush Ltd. has provided both scheduled drain flushing and emergency heavy plumbing to the Maple Leaf Foods plant. But, as Maintenance Planner & Scheduler, Silva says the relationship with current Aqua Fast Flush owner Jonathan Heeg and his crew goes much deeper than simply that of an outside service provider.
“I use him as a consultant,” says Silva. “When I am not sure on what to do on a drainage issue, I will call him and ask him, ‘What do you think I should do here?’ and he will gladly share his ideas with me. Any time we need to see him here, for a service call or just a consultation, he comes with no hesitation.”
A Little Inside Knowledge Goes a Long Way
Long before the neighborhood known as The Junction became fashionable as a place to live, it was an older industrial area. With aging infrastructure reflected in various and assorted nooks and crannies, the Maple Leaf Foods plant is true to that heritage.
It’s not an easy place for outside contractors or service providers to work in, says Silva. That is why he has come to rely on a company that is actually headquartered some 90 minutes away.
“Aqua Fast Flush never fails. I can go home and relax, and I know there is going to be a follow-up call right away and I know that the job will be done right the first time,” Silva says. “Jonathan and his guys know the plant well. It’s an old plant, very easy to get lost in, but they know their way around so well. They know where the lines start and finish, where the tie-ins are, as well as I do.”
That deep knowledge gained by Aqua Fast Flush over the years is particularly important with an aging, even fragile infrastructure, says Silva. “They always know what they have got to do here,” he says.
As part of scheduled maintenance, Aqua Fast Flush crews twice a year spend three days on-site, flushing pipes and pumping out waste pits, all strategically accomplished without a plant shutdown. “They know which lines they can only hit with 2,000 psi of pressure, instead of 4,000 psi, because of the age of the building. They don’t want to break any pipes and create any holes that will make a situation worse,” commends Silva.
“These are just some of the things I pick up from them, too. They always share their findings so I learn a little bit more about our underground system when they are here.”
An Emergency Situation Goes Off The Rails
Being located in a mature part of Canada’s largest city, the Maple Leaf Foods plant has some infrastructure surprises even for long-time employees and service providers. An example came in 2016, when Aqua Fast Flush crews were dispatched on an emergency call.
“We had one of our underground pits collapsing,” recalls Silva, who has worked at the plant for 21 years, “so we had to dig a massive hole around it, create a new pit, and then start installing and connecting lines to it.” To everyone’s surprise, running above the damaged pit was a buried rail line – an homage to an earlier era.
As a full-service provider, Aqua Fast Flush was able to do the tricky excavation and rail removal required in this particular situation. This is in addition to the core drain and sewer services the company provides. “This is reflective of a company that solves problems and answer questions, rather than passing the buck or even creating additional problems and questions,” added Silva.
Earning Friends In The Head Office, Too
Silva’s admiration for Aqua Fast Flush extends to the “administrative side” of the business.
As a large corporation, Maple Leaf Foods has extensive policies and procedures for how it works with outside companies. Silva notes that Aqua Fast Flush embraces and even surpasses requirements to rightfully earn its place on the Maple Leaf Foods preferred supplier list.
This ranges from Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification, which is “a big deal in our business,” right down to the accuracy and completeness of job quotes and invoices. “That is a large part of the business and Jonathan has it nailed, too.”
Silva moved into the Building and Facilities Management Department at Maple Leaf Foods three years ago and, “since then, I have only known Aqua Fast Flush,” he says. “I can’t imagine ever needing to know anybody else.”
Name: Victor Silva
Title: Maintenance Planner
Company: Maple Leaf Foods