APG Neuros – Bringing Innovation to Market
We learn how APG Neuros, a manufacturer and distributor of high-efficiency turbo blowers and complete aeration systems are powered by innovation.
Sometimes innovation can be a light bulb moment, an idea that comes out of the blue. Other times it can simply be a question of taking hard-earned knowledge from elsewhere and finding a new context to apply it to. This is how Omar Hammoud went about founding his business, APG Neuros 15 years ago.
I started APG Neuros in 2005 as a technology and innovations development company where we bring in technologists and from the aerospace industry,” Hammoud recalls. “I’ve been working with world leaders for over 25 years in the aviation and power generation sectors, so I took my innovative ideas from those years and brought them into work to develop new, innovative products during the past 15 years. We introduced our first new product in 2006 to a rather conservative industrial and waste-water-treatment community. We were pleased that we met a good reception thanks to the high operating efficiencies and reduction of carbon footprint the product provided.”
Over time APG Neuros grew to become the market leader in North America, then expanded into the UK, working with Wessex Water, Thames Water, Welsh Water, Severn Trent and Anglian Water. They continued to expand into continental Europe, with installations in France and Italy, and into the Middle East with installations in Bahrain and the UAE.
“Through the years our customers expected more from us, so we kept innovating our product and inventing new products as well as continually innovating our way of doing business. The way we do business is to create support solutions that adapt with our customers’ needs to operate and maintain our product at high availability level and to be responsive to customer concerns regarding asset replacement due to reliability issues and due to product ageing and obsoletion,” Hammoud explains. “So we developed support plans that combine preventative maintenance and modernization that proved effective in maintaining above 99.5% reliability level and maintains their product in the current production standard.
It is APG Neuros’s commitment to innovation and developing solutions fit for a wide variety of needs that has seen the company attain the levels of success it has.
“With our new innovative product solutions, we help our customers to take their waste-water treatment plants to waste recovery centres. We provide them with new technologies that can use biogas productively to power a new generation of turbo blowers that are driven by gas turbine engines. Our new product can operate using biogas or natural gas as the fuel,” says Hammoud. “Our unique selling point is an innovative technology and customised solutions to challenging customer issues. We provide a turnkey solution, where we work with our customer help them define the challenge and we develop the most effective solution to have them accomplish their objective while saving on operating costs and improving efficiencies.”
Keeping the Innovation Flowing
Of course, defining your business through innovation and a pipeline of new solutions and technologies places a great deal of pressure on a brand to continue innovating.
“There will always be challenges, starting with technology development. We have to bring in successful technologies from other sectors such as aerospace, defence, high-speed rail and power generation,” Hammoud says. “We do it with our investment and that puts a challenge and burden on us. We managed to overcome this with our customers’ loyalty. Many of our customers are willing to take our first product into operation and that helps us finance the product launch. We also have partner investment companies and banks that see our vision and our strategy and give us the support we need.”
At the same, APG Neuros needs to ensure their customers can trust even the most cutting-edge ideas they have to offer, as Hammoud points out, “On the one hand we have to work hard for many years at a time to develop and make those technologies work, and on the other hand we need to convince our customers to be confident they can trust new technology.” Even when potential customers can be convinced of the benefits of APG Neuros’ new solutions, there are still challenges in an environment where public tenders are often obliged to go for the cheapest option.
“Even if they wanted the new technology, they can’t necessarily have it because they have to obey the rules of the tender that require them to buy at the lowest price,” Hammoud says. “That means lower quality products, stripped-down configurations that don’t work as well in the long-term and a lot of low-cost products that end up having trouble in a few years and have to be replaced anyway, so it’s a vicious cycle. Unfortunately, they end up replacing and paying more money for it.”
To fix that, Hammoud believes reform is essential in government procurement practices. “Government procurement offices can be reformed,” he says. “The way they enforce regulations on local municipalities can be changed to help municipalities innovate their products, reduce their costs and their carbon footprint. By doing so the whole community will benefit and tax-payers will pay less in the long term than they would today under existing rules.”
To overcome that hurdle APG Neuros worked hard to build their customers’ strong confidence in their products and support services. “We overcame this with persistence, to make our customers feel very comfortable that they will have a product that works and feel more comfortable with our team and support capabilities,” says Hammoud.
It paid off, as Hammoud describes, “When we brought potential customers to see the APG Neuros product in operation at the Buffalo wastewater treatment facility they were told the Buffalo’s operations team reaction during the first year was ‘this product seemed too good to be true.” A year and a half later, their reaction is “It still seems too good to be true, and it works. The new customers are extremely impressed and have decided to take the same technology for their facility.”
Getting Through the Pandemic
At the same time, the company has recently run into the same new challenges we all have, with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Covid-19 came at a time when we were about to complete the development of a major product line and we saw a slow cycle of completion for that development because of it,” Hammoud says.
Moving beyond the pandemic, Hammoud has big plans for APG Neuros’ future. “We’re optimistic that the future looks bright for us, We’ve managed to transform a market over the last 14 years and along the way gained strong recognition, built a strong brand and a market of hundreds of customers, while we have two product lines coming out soon,” he says. “We’re approaching the completion of our gas turbine blower development, we’re at the final stage of testing and hope to deliver the first units by the end of 2020.”
APG Neuros already offers complete turn key aeration solutions that combine blowers with aeration diffusers and aeration instruments, control valves, control automation and Model Predictive Control. We also add to the complete Aeration solution the design and supply of the blower room, indoor or outdoor drop in place installations.