Conference YP Committee interviews Jani van Gend
Angelo Johnston from the GWD ConfEx2021 YP Committee interviews:
Jani van Gend
I am a curious and driven individual who loves being outside and do not mind getting my hands dirty when it comes to getting the job done. After obtaining my MSc, I was silly or brave (you can decide) and continued studying to complete a PhD in Earth Science at Stellenbosch University. I was fortunate to travel quite often during my studies and I met Rosie van Walt (the other director of Van Walt SA) at a groundwater conference in Spain and we just clicked. Being one of the few ladies at the conference, we chatted up a storm and came up with a plan to bring Van Walt to South Africa. In 2020, the final year of my PhD and the year of the global chaos (thanks Covid19) we were brave enough to start Van Walt SA.
Short background/story on your innovative equipment?
Van Walt started 40 years ago when Vincent van Walt realized that he would much rather pursue a career in the environmental field than continuing to work as a charted accountant at a large auditing firm. He started selling soil testing kits and doing the testing himself. From there the company grew and is continuing to do so. Van Walt has developed and patented the vanwaltDataHUB and vanwaltDataSLAVE which forms part of our telemetry equipment. These devices are extremely versatile and can be paired with various probes and sensors measuring a range of parameters. These include surface and groundwater level and quality, soil moisture and EC, soil pH and meteorological parameters such as ambient temperature, solar radiation, relative humidity, and rainfall. We have recently developed and installed a system which measures parameters such as leaf temperature and sap flow, specifically aimed to assist in optimizing irrigation and fertilization in agriculture. In addition to this, our LevelSCOUTS and BaroSCOUTS are manufactured under license for us, and we have just launched the LevelSCOUT 2X, a telemetry ready logger which can be used as an absolute logger and can be converted into a vented logger for telemetry to improve your monitoring system as your budget allows it. Our research and development team are currently busy working on some more exciting products that we will soon be adding to our range of equipment.
Apart from our telemetry systems, we have partnered up with some of the world leaders in environmental equipment to supply and rent research grade sampling and testing equipment such as a range of pumps, bailers, PID’s, multiparameter probes (YSI), dip meters and oil interface meters, soil and sediment sampling equipment (various augers and dredges) and the relevant accessories. Van Walt consist of a team of individuals in 5 offices across 3 continents who design, source, install, supply, rent and repair environmental equipment.
Type and specifications of your equipment?
Van Walt offers a range of research grade equipment ranging from water sampling and testing to soil and sediment sampling and testing equipment and telemetry. Our range of products and the specifications can be viewed on our website www.vanwalt.com or you are welcome to contact us at [email protected] if you require more information about any of our products.
How does it operate? Is it an easy “one-man” operating system or do you need a team?
Our equipment is easy to operate, never mind a “one-man” operation, our equipment is suitable for a “one-woman” operation. All our equipment is primed ready for use on site for efficiency and ease. Additionally, our data collection equipment has been developed for off site monitoring. Telemetry is becoming an ever-popular method for retrieving data straight to your desktop without the need to go on site.
The vanwaltDataHUB performs as a data-logger, so it collects data from environmental and other sensors and probes. It organises the data for distribution or sharing through on-board memory, radio frequency, and GPRS.
What sets your services and equipment apart from other services and equipment?
Van Walt offers world class and research grade equipment for environmental monitoring equipment. It is important that the user has reliable and accurate equipment to use within an industry focused on environmental sustainability.
At Van Walt, we know that environmental monitoring projects do not have “one solution fits all” type of solutions, so we assess the needs of each customer and their projects and design and develop a monitoring solution for their specific needs. Our services go further than just designing and building the system. We assist clients with installations and provide training to ensure that each customer is comfortable with their monitoring system and the data generated by the system. In addition, we can remotely monitor the telemetry systems to assist in troubleshooting if something goes wrong.
Van Walt believes in direct client relationships. We are always available to assist customers directly rather than working through agents. Our equipment is serviced locally from our offices which prevents long waiting periods and consequently loss of project time for our customers.
How and where can people find your equipment?
All of our equipment details can be found on our website at www.vanwalt.com. We are always happy to discuss customer projects and applications in further detail and are always accessible by phone and video call. We hope to visit customers again when the covid restrictions ease!
Contact details: [email protected]
About the Interviewer: Angelo Johnson, Junior Scientist @ SANParks, PhD Candidate in Hydrogeology, University of Western Cape