WT: Welcome back Robert, tell us more about your analyzer, and the relative advantages of your product over others on the market?
Menegotto: Well, we have two types of business clients, is one way to explain it, this relates to our products.
We manufacture analyzers for accredited laboratories that do environmental water and soil testing.
This includes public sector government laboratories like Environment Canada (ECCC), the US Environmental Protection Agency, state/provincial level government labs, and private, commercial labs. Factories, refineries that are required to have soil and water tests for environmental compliance send samples out to these accredited laboratories.
We make the analyzers for both types of labs.
Commercial labs are busy, so the samples tend to get concentrated. We just had a couple of commercial labs in Toronto that are doing five, six hundred samples a day on four MANTECH analyzers. Both have asked for another unit, just this week.
Our technology consolidates different tests. We take the standard, run-of-the-mill, important parameters like conductivity, hardness, alkalinity, pH, turbidity, chloride, fluoride, and we run all the analyses on one machine, from a single sample. That’s where we excel. You don’t need multiple instruments to do all these electro-chemistry tests. Even better, we can do many tests in a batch.
We manufacture the robotics, this takes one hundred samples in the unit, hit the start button; you come in the morning and it's all done. That’s what we do differently, that we do better and what is most valuable, we do it all faster than could be done before, per sample, and we do it all with the smallest sample volume, smaller than has ever been used before. This last point is key. There are all kinds of financial and sustainable impacts from our technology.
A customer with two of our units was looking to buy a third unit in 2021. They told us they had shopped the market, to keep us honest. They came back to us saying if they were to switch brands, they would have to tell their customers to collect a larger sample volume, they would have to send out larger plastic bottles, they would incur higher shipping cost, all before they start analyzing.
So MANTECH delivers a green impact for government and commercial labs while still meeting the government-approved methods for compliance.
We also manufacture an analyzer that goes out to the field, to the factories, to the processing plants, the cities that are sending samples out, testing for compliance. The clients in the field want pollution control, the factories want to know their effluent discharge going into the river, lake or groundwater is compliant, and that their treatment process is optimized.
Before MANTECH’s PeCOD® solution, which measures BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) and COD (chemical oxygen demand), this was a 5-day test, (or 3-hour test in hazardous). We have it done in ten minutes, right there.
So, a refinery can know while they are treating their wastewater-- in 10 minutes, how it’s going, and if the discharge is going out in compliance. We just couldn’t know this before the MANTECH technology. So, that’s what we are delivering: faster testing with green impact.
WT: Your pro software, I am curious, when I design software, write software, it’s for a specific function. I see you have software, are there differences in software in these applications? Is there such a thing as better software for one unit than other software?
Menegotto: We have been on a path of digitization for the last two years. We want to digitize everything we can and then develop and manufacture what’s missing.
So we need a sensor to do pH; we are going to digitize everything we can around that. We make sure that MANTECH Pro software can handle all these different environmental parameters, with their different methods, and different nuances, and digitize all of that, and make it smart. This is a differentiator for MANTECH as well.
We have also brought in IOT infrastructure. It’s smart software, now with intelligent devices and sensors. The software knows automatically fault detections, or if there is a problem with a standard, or to confirm everything is working properly. We have initiated email alerts; users decide the alerts they want, for example, your samples have run successfully, or a piece of equipment has experienced a fault, you get the email. It’s peace of mind for the client. Big differentiator, absolutely.
WT: Let’s talk about membership, and your R & D partners. What options are there for people or companies to work with you?
Menegotto: We are a member of ASTM (American Standards and Testing Materials) international standardization body, that’s a key one we are involved with. That’s our outreach, we are out there with the groups that develop the global standards, to make sure that what we are working on, is on the right path to meet a recognized standard, globally. On outreach, we are involved with governments, especially in Canada where they do quite a bit of R & D. We do engage financially, and in other ways, with academics, to work on unique projects that we see a need for. We will commit financially, donate resources, this has worked fantastically well.
For example, the University of Waterloo, Institute of Nanotechnology where we are developing nano-tech into analyzers for water and soil, we have already commercialized.
We work with the Centre for Water Resource Studies at Dalhousie, to apply our analyzers into different areas and validate for that. Those are two good examples of our work with academics, and we have others. We do this globally, not just in Canada.
WT: Is this something people or companies buy outright, or is it something people rent, lease?
Menegotto: When it comes to the business-to-business environment we are in, it’s mostly transactional, buy and sell. There are a lot of big companies involved here, all government business is that. When it comes to academics, smaller groups, companies, we are flexible. We see the bigger picture. Some academic educational pricing, we do lease to own with smaller companies, like craft breweries.
We don’t need to get the banks involved; we just do it directly.
WT: With lab equipment, do you offer warranties?
Menegotto: We are manufacturers, we offer a standard factory warranty program on all our hardware for at least twelve months. We follow that up with maintenance services as well.
WT: Have you found testing parameters are different around the world? Are there any peculiarities that you have noticed over your years of doing this?
Menegotto: On the water side, we are lucky, it is very standardized. There is very little wiggle room on the methods are European or American.
With soil, there tend to be more variations. There are books and references but there tends to be more variations from place to place, we just have to stay on top of that.
WT: Are there particular issues impacting remote and northern communities in Canada? Are there particular matters that impact water testing and drinking water safety?
Menegotto: For the Canadian northern and remote communities, parameters for water testing are standard, but the availability of testing is completely different. There are two issues: accessibility to do the testing, and the trust factor. The University of Victoria is working with a community on the border of Quebec and Nunavut, using our analyzer on-site. They found high levels of organic matter in the drinking water, possibly coming from the delivery truck not being cleaned out between loads, or the cisterns in the homes maybe not being cleaned and tested. Until our PCOD was there, they had not noticed this build-up of organics in the water.
WT: When it comes to making your services accessible in the north, do you provide extra support, training?
Menegotto: We do!
WT: We will get this information out to the communities, thank you for this.