Getting to Know Heiner Markhoff

10 Minutes With… Heiner Markhoff: An interview with GE Water’s president and CEO

Q:   Please explain the strategy behind the merger of GE Water into the Power & Water business of GE Energy.

A:   Energy and water are two of the world’s most precious resources, and they are inextricably linked. You need energy to produce water, and water to produce energy. Both challenges must be addressed together; that is the driving force behind the formation of the division. This approach gives GE the scale, diversity and expertise to effectively pursue and manage power and water projects worldwide.

Q:   Can you elaborate on how the merger will benefit customers?

A:   Bringing together technologies from the energy and water sectors not only makes good business sense, it enhances our capacity to provide comprehensive solutions to meet the growing demand for both power and water. This will benefit customers in both sectors.

Q:   Traditionally, GE Water has focused largely on customers in the heavy industry sector. How has this market been impacted by the global economic recession?

A:   Many of the heavy industry businesses (power, refining, chemical processing, steel and mining) definitely are feeling pressure due to the economy. But they remain focused on total cost reduction, reduced water consumption and energy efficiency, which plays to our strengths and portfolio.

Forward-thinking companies across all industries with a focus on water footprint reduction and water/energy efficiency continue to look for solutions to meet current and future needs. Finally, customers in water-scarce regions where demand exceeds supply have no choice but to move ahead to identify opportunities to address the challenge through water reuse and water reduction projects.

Q:   What is GE Water’s most recent technology development?

A:   We have expanded our ultrafiltration product portfolio by introducing the ZeeWeed* 1500. This pressurized module offers cost-effective, skid-mounted solutions that can be rapidly installed for water treatment, tertiary filtration and pretreatment for brackish and seawater desalination. It is available in packaged and custom designs for municipal and industrial plants.

Q:   What products and services are being developed for the future?

A:   We continually develop new technologies to meet industry challenges. Over the next few years, GE Water will double its technology investment and focus research efforts toward continuing to address the most pressing challenges related to water availability and quality, environment, energy and improved productivity. Future products will be designed to reduce the total cost of producing water, reduce waterborne disease, reduce water footprint and improve the finished water quality of wastewater treatment, enabling expanded reuse.

Q:   What is GE Water’s greatest challenge now?

A:   Our goal always has been to develop technologies that will add value for our customers and their operations, as well as offer benefits to the environment. In these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever to work closely with our customers to develop cost-effective solutions to not only enable them to grow profitably, but also address the challenges of water scarcity and water purity worldwide.

Q:   Where do you see the company in the next 3-5 years?

A:   I hope that we will be known for these key characteristics:
  • Innovation: We invest heavily in technology; it is important to our business and we want to continue to establish a leadership position
  • Environment: We are committed to developing products and services that provide a balance between our customers’ environmental and business goals
  • Partnership: We want to be seen as a strategic partner for our customers
  • People: We will continue to invest in our people, so they continue to provide value to our customers

*ZeeWeed is a trademark of General Electric Company and may be registered in one or more countries.

July / August 2009 Splash Home

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