We interview Tomás Pérez Olivares, General Manager of SISTEMA AZUD. With extensive experience in the sector of irrigation systems technologies, he is since 1990 the Strategic and Commercial Manager of the company. Over these past years, he has driven the company to a leading position in the sector at an international level.
Question - To start, please tell us about the beginning of the company and its business history until the present time.
Answer - AZUD was founded in the eighties in the south-east of Spain, one of the most arid regions in Europe. Water scarcity has shaped our business vision until today: promoting a ‘water culture’, recognising the value of water and environmental resources in our surroundings.
Being highly aware of water resource issues and given the need to develop our own technologies for intensive agriculture, we decided to focus on the manufacture of advanced drip irrigation technology. As pioneers of drip irrigation in Spain, we have witnessed the revolution that the emergence of this technology has meant for the agricultural sector, increasing crop yields significantly through unprecedented savings in water and fertilizer.
Specialising in drip irrigation systems meant a new challenge for us: developing efficient filtration technologies to protect irrigation systems.
Afterwards, the water quality demands of each type of crop drove us to develop water treatment systems. Nowadays we develop irrigation, filtration and water treatment technologies for the agricultural, industrial, municipal and humanitarian sectors, with successful references in more than 150 countries.
In these 30 years we have nurtured close and long lasting relationships, and the success of our clients has been our main driving force.
Q - In your opinion, which are the main intangible assets of your company?
A - The most valuable asset of our company is the AZUD brand name. Our brand is well established in the market due to the technical excellence, reliability and quality of our products. AZUD also represents close and personal relationships with clients, as we respond with professionalism to any challenge, they present to us. The AZUD brand is tantamount to quality.
Without a doubt, the people in the company are the ones who make AZUD a world-renowned brand. The team working for AZUD comprises more than 500 people in five continents, who speak more than 14 languages. This dynamism and multiculturalism provide us flexibility to reach any market and offer solutions that are customised based on our awareness of local issues. We have a very specialised team of professionals, who are able to respond to any technical, commercial, or management need.
I think that our differentiating value is knowledge. Not only do we know the product, but also the applications where our technology is used. Finally, our policy of building a close relationship with clients allows us to obtain first-hand information about their problems and their needs. We capitalize on this knowledge with efficient management, contributing technical and commercial training, with resources and tools that allow the client to access the necessary information at the right time.
"At AZUD we have specialised in the development of drinking water treatment plants for small municipalities, isolated communities and emergency situations"
Q- What are the main applications the company is currently working on?
A - In the agricultural sector, from the early stages AZUD invested in the development of technology for localised irrigation, understanding that this system is the best answer to the issues faced by any intensive farming initiative: water scarcity, production costs and productivity.
Within localised irrigation, there are specific applications, such as underground irrigation, where AZUD has developed emitters and systems that minimize evaporation water losses, optimizing the dosing of nutrients and facilitating operations in the field.
We have also played a relevant role in the agricultural sector with our filtration systems that protect irrigation emitters; fertigation systems, which are automated systems to apply fertilizers with the irrigation water; and desalination systems to ensure that irrigation water has a suitable quality.
In the industrial sector, the availability and cost of process water, as well as the discharge requirements for the industry, point to two distinct trends: stricter requirements for process water quality and the implementation of water reuse systems.
In this regard, AZUD is increasingly known on an international level as a gold standard technology company for self-cleaning filtration systems and water treatment plants for different industrial applications: cooling towers and heat exchange systems, inflows and process waters, membrane protection, circulation systems, etc.
Finally, both in the municipal sector and in the humanitarian sector, at AZUD we have specialised in the development of drinking water treatment plants for small municipalities, isolated communities and emergency situations. And, within this range, autonomous drinking water treatment plants have been our greatest technological challenge. These compact plants ensure a potable water supply regardless of the source of water, using energy supplied by photovoltaic panels integrated in the plant itself.
Q - Could you comment on the significance of innovation in your company?
A - Innovation and technological development have always been the main pillars of our company. From the beginning we decided to differentiate ourselves through innovation to create high performance technological products. The challenge of developing products that contribute to water and energy savings goes hand in hand with our continuous investment in research, development and innovation (RDI) projects.
Not only have these projects contributed to the development of new products, but also to the refinement and continuous improvement of already existing products. We are committed to R&D; from the beginning and over these 30 years of business history we have collaborated in many projects with different agencies and research centres to develop new products.
With the development of the numerous patents we own and the continuous technical improvements to existing products, we have placed RDI projects at the forefront of our growth.
Q - What are the main challenges for the company in the future?
A - There are many challenges ahead of us. We are working in learning about new applications, opening new markets, the development and consolidation of the filtration and water treatment division and maintaining our brand’s current position in the international market.
Our business model is based on constantly seeking technical excellence in our products, together with fostering professionalism in our working team and the knowledge about applications that we have acquired over 30 years.
We are a technological partner able to help our clients achieve their growth objectives and join them in new business challenges, to achieve efficient and cost-effective water management, in any sector or application.