Enrique Ruiz is an Industrial Engineer who specialises in water technologies and currently holds the position of CTO at Tecnoturbines. In 2015, he joined the Tecnoturbines team to work on a solution that would enable energy recovery in water supply networks. Today he manages the company’s technical processes from their new headquarters in Alicante.
In the first 2018 post, we talked with Enrique to learn about his duties as CTO and discover Tecnoturbines’ most technical aspect, as well as the company’s future projects.
You have always been linked to the hydraulic industry. Had you ever considered taking part in or joining an entrepreneurial project?
ER: Yes, I have always thought about starting a business from scratch. Transforming an idea into a profitable business is an exciting challenge.
You started working with Jaime Lledó (CEO and co-founder) and the rest of the team; you were all classmates at university. How were your beginnings at Tecnoturbines?
ER: There was quite a lot of hard work and great difficulty to carry out all the validation tests for the technology, since we didn’t have the resources we currently have. You could say that the equipment was tested directly at the client’s facilities when installing it, which forced us to be very precise in the design. Fortunately, we currently have well-equipped test benches that enable us to validate every product before they are put into operation.
What is the added value of Tecnoturbines’ patented technology?
ER: The main added value is that it enables energy recovery in water supply systems through the use of micro turbines equipped with our technology, which can’t be done with conventional turbines that are designed for large-scale generation and not for small uses in water networks where pressure and flow are very variable.
Do you manufacture all your turbines Spain? What is the manufacturing process?
ER: Yes, all the equipment is manufactured in our facilities in Almoradí (Alicante), except for picoturbines, which are manufactured in CEPEX’s facilities located in La Garriga (Barcelona). Once we have selected the equipment that best adjusts to the flow and pressure conditions stated by the client, manufacturing consists of assembling the turbine’s different components. When the product is finished, it is tested in the test bench to guarantee its correct operation before delivering and setting it up.
One of the advantages of your equipment is cost reduction, both in investment and maintenance, compared to conventional technologies. How do you reduce costs for the final customer?
ER: All the components used to manufacture the turbines are standardized and are widely used in many sectors of the industry, which enables us to have cost-effective and high quality components. As an example, a turbine is actually a conventional pump used with reverse flow, which means that we have very low costs because it is a part that is industrially mass-produced.
What kind of companies do Tecnoturbines’ solutions benefit? And, how?
ER: Any company that focuses on water management, such as companies that manage the integral water cycle, irrigation communities, industries with water management in their processes, etc. Our turbines enable the extraction of energy from excess pressure in the pipes, which results in a more energy efficient water management process.
Do you require your clients’ network terrain and/or topology to have certain characteristics in order to install a Tecnoturbines turbine?
ER: Not necessarily, although there are always more options to install our turbines in supply networks that present high pressures where a pressure reducing valve has traditionally been installed. This usually happens in mountainous areas with difficult terrains.
What are the duties of a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) in a technical company such as Tecnoturbines?
ER: My duties consist, on the one hand, of continuously improving existing products as well as developing new ones to cover the widest possible spectrum of the market. On the other hand, I provide support to the sales department to achieve sales targets, manage the after-sales service and coordinate the process of manufacturing new orders with the production department.
In September of 2017 you moved to a new industrial warehouse in Alicante. Is this because of a need to unify all your production in a single plant? What activities do you undertake in the new headquarters?
ER: Tecnoturbines products have a key innovation component for their introduction into the market. Having only one headquarters in which all the R&D&i is carried out and where the already consolidated products are manufactured, for us is a very important added value since it allows us to quickly transfer the improvements to the final product. We can also carry out after-sales activities, administration and support the sales department.
You are in the process of internationalization. What are your targets for 2018?
ER: For 2018 our priorities are, on the one hand, to consolidate the markets where we’ve had our first sales such as Colombia, Mexico and Japan; on the other hand, to introduce our product in other interesting countries such as the UK, Chile and especially the USA.
What worries you at an environmental level and what would you consider is Tecnoturbines’ main contribution?
ER: The biggest environmental challenge we’re facing right now is the fight against global warming and climate change. Within this scenario, Tecnoturbines can contribute significantly to the reduction of CO2 emissions in water transport and its distribution processes.
What is your assessment of the micro-hydraulic sector?
ER: Until very recently, the micro-hydraulic generation sector was a consolidated industry with few technological advances. Recently, especially thanks to the development of power electronics, a new field of application has opened up so now it’s possible to use not only the energy from rivers and reservoirs, but also from pressurized water pipes. There are currently very few companies like Tecnoturbines who are opting for this field of work, so it’s a priority for us to consolidate as a benchmark in this market with such an important growth potential in the coming years.