Apex2 – Innovation through customer focus
Apex2 – Innovation through customer focus
In 2015, we took our dedication to reducing occupational health and environmental risks from noise, dust and vibration monitoring to a new level with the development of the Apex2 personal dust sampling pump. We achieved this primarily by initiating a global conversation to fully understand what the market needed, then producing a pump to meet those requirements and more.
Apex2: Listening to the customer…
What does listening to the voice of the customer truly mean? The phrase is used by organisations frequently; so much so that companies may not be actually listening to their customers; it simply forms part of their marketing rhetoric with no substance behind it. At Casella, listening to our customers is a fundamental commitment when developing new innovations - listening to voices of multiple cultures and regions, taking clients on the development journey and acting upon their feedback. The ultimate demonstration of this culminated in the design of the Apex2.
When developing the Apex2, one of the first obvious requirements that came to light from the vast amount of end user feedback was the need for a new ergonomic design for the device. We utilised our in-house facility to print 3D models that were then weighted and taken back to clients for feedback.
In the majority of cases, pumps are worn on the waist; however, our investigations threw up some interesting exceptions. For example, customers in South Africa highlighted that monitoring devices are often worn across the chest, a decision that lends itself to a lightweight curved design. Customers in the Australian mining industry suggested a more rugged design to help protect the pump, whereas in South America, we discovered a requirement for the device to be worn either on a person’s back or in lab coat pockets was also a requirement.
From our customer visits, we also learned that the nuclear and pharmaceutical industries were aligned in that they required pump surfaces to be smooth which would speed up the decontamination process. Additionally, the Oil & Gas and mining industries required pumps to be ruggedized so as to withstand harsh environments and heavy duty use. Casella’s engineering team’s smart use of materials and the added feature of a protective boot satisfies both requirements.
The top mounted OLED display was also a result of the feedback from the mining industry to aid easy viewing for workers. This screen position also helped prevent damage from the unit being easily damaged.
Wireless connectivity and activity sensors
The curved Apex2 boasts wireless capabilities, a quality that is revered by our clientele. A worker’s pump can now be monitored remotely, avoiding interruption of the worker. If the worker is in a remote location, this is invaluable for local supervisors.
In addition, the activity sensor ensures that clients know if a worker is wearing the monitoring device. Previous customer feedback highlighted that some workers are inclined to remove their monitoring device, because they are too heavy or large and uncomfortable to wear, this invalidates sample data and increases costs as well as contributing to inaccurate user exposure data. The motion sensor provides a more reliable audit capacity.
Depending on the monitoring requirements within an environment, a wide variety of filters can be used, and filters can restrict air flow at different flow levels. The Apex2 however is fit for all purposes, boasting back pressure capabilities that are second to none and allowing one pump to maintain a set flow rate regardless of the filter type being used. Ultimately, our clients now have a choice of one pump for all their applications, and one whose battery lasts longer, even as the filter becomes clogged.
Asbestos monitoring is a good example of an application that combines the need for air sampling pumps that are easy to decontaminate but also exhibit high back pressure capability. These key features of the Apex2 have been the underpinning of its success in the UK and abroad.
Looking to the future
From wireless connectivity to motion sensors, the reason why the release of the Apex2 has become one of the most popular pumps on the market is testament to Casella’s customer focus. It also reflects our cultural transition, from a UK centric company to one that incorporates the requirements of our global communities and identifying unique features within the product that add real value for clients.
For the first time in history, we achieved two patent applications for the Apex2 air sampling pump, protecting our innovation of the product with its unique, user-defined assembly and electronics design.
We successfully launched the IS accredited dBadge2 noise dosimeter last year which opened up new markets in hazardous industries such as oil and gas, pharmaceutical and mining. Now with its own I.S. accreditation, the Apex2 is positioned to provide workers the same level of protection in all environments.