The Silicon Review
“Our competitors are large companies with complex hierarchy and with many steps involved in the decision-making process. We at Add Grup have a very simple structure which gives us a lot of flexibility and speed when evaluating different opportunities.”
Smart metering solutions, deployed to read the utility meters, enable firms to keep a check on the levels of usage and differentiate between utility theft and the company use. Naturally, a lower rate of theft results in higher profits. In light of the foregoing, we’re pleased to present ADD Grup.
ADD Grup designs and manufactures benchmarking smart metering solutions. It is a high-tech company with more than 27 years of success globally. It helps utility companies increase their economic efficiency by reducing electricity theft and losses, minimizing operational costs, and protecting revenue by providing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) solutions. ADD Grup has installed more than six million meters globally.
The company was founded in 1992 and is based in Moldova.
Elena Turanskaya: Interview Highlights
Please explain ADDGrup’s journey to date.
Between 1992 and 1998 ADD Grup worked on different projects, the main being the solution for the tariffication of telephone conversations. ADD Grup launched a simple and cost-efficient solution, which didn’t require an essential upgrade of the stations. These characteristics of the product have raised ADD Grup to the level of market-leader and have brought contracts for the tariffication of millions of telephone subscribers. In 1998, the company reoriented towards the energy market by starting the development of ADDAX IMS. Two objectives were set: simplicity and cost-efficiency.
In 1999, ADD Grup started the development of digital meters. The meters were equipped with built-in PLC modems and breaker relays. The internal clock tied the amount of consumed energy to the time when it was consumed.
After demonstrating good performance in the first projects, PLC remained the primary communication media used in the ADDAX network. The structure of the system comprised three levels: metering equipment, communication equipment (routers), and the data management software. The GSM channel was the primary medium used for data exchange between the routers and the data management center. The year 2018 also gave birth to the other two directions: ADDRA Smart Water Metering and the ADDA Intelligent Irrigation Solution.
During 2019, the ADDERA marketplace was conceptualized and the development started. As of 2020, ADD Grup has supplied over seven million meters to 30 countries worldwide and has four license partners that produce metering solutions based on the ADDAX technology. At the same time, the company is actively investing in the finalization of the development of the other three solutions.
Explain the products and services offered by ADD Grup.
We have products and solutions-oriented for B2B and B2C.
Among B2B there are two solutions in the domain of smart metering:
Among B2C there are two consumer-oriented solutions:
What was the motivation behind starting the company and how did it all come together?
Talented people during the time of the USSR had problems implementing their potential due to a number of restrictions including the non-existence of private companies/ businesses. This is why the break-down of the USSR, independency for Moldova, and the market economy paved the opportunity for Alexei Lazarev to implement his ideas through creation of a small enterprise that with the help of its talented employees and wise management became one of the leaders in smart metering industry with projects in more than 30 countries.
Please help us understand the current market landscape.
The market is extremely competitive. Earlier, you could play with advantages and the know-how of your own proprietary technology. Everything is standardized now and the requirements are unified. Specifications are open to the public and a lot of vendors have possibility to create standard products, hence, increasing the number of competitors. This leads to decreased profitability and is a sensitive issue in the smart metering industry.
How is your company positioned in the current market scenario?
We were one of the first companies in the smart metering industry. This helped us gain a lot of knowledge and experience in designing benchmark smart metering solutions. Despite the knowledge and know-how, the size of the company matters and us being a relatively small company as compared to our competitors like Landis+gyr, Sagemcom, etc. we had to be wise enough to use competitive advantages like the flexibility to quickly respond to customer expectations and their requirements for customization.
Our major markets are Central and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine where we have the largest market shares). Currently, we are working on expanding our presence to the Middle East and Latin America.
What are the pain points of the industry and how are they addressed by the company?
As vendors in many other industries, we face tough price pressure from Chinese competitors. Given that the majority of projects are based on public procurement where evaluation criterion is the lowest price while the solution is highly unified and standardized and does not give any space for creativity, innovation, and know-how, the results are very much predictable. Sometimes we just have to withdraw from such markets leaving Chinese competitors to fight among themselves for cents.
What are the differentiating factors that set your company apart from the competition in the market?
In a highly standardized industry, there is still a place to innovate and not deviate from the set standards. We use our know-how to extensively improve product quality and reliability. Thus if we talk about smart metering as one of the main directions of our company in which data collection rates and communication success is very critical, ADDAX solution delivers 99 percent and above communication success which is the highest in the industry. At the same time, the product fault rate is 0.1 percent per annum which is the lowest in the smart metering industry.
In addition to this, our competitors are large companies with complex hierarchy and with many steps involved in the decision-making process. We at Add Grup have a very simple structure which gives us a lot of flexibility and speed when evaluating different opportunities.
Who are some of your biggest clients?
ADD Grup’s biggest clients are EVN (Bulgaria), Sadales tikls (Latvia), CEZ (the Czech Republic and Romania), MRSK (Russia), Energa Operator and PGE (Poland), Kievoblenergo (Ukraine), to name a few.
What are the future plans for ADD Grup?
Europe is closing in terms of smart electricity metering as most of the countries have already decided over their smart metering roll-outs and have chosen the suppliers. Now it is time to move to the Middle East and Latin America where the processes have just started and we are able to not only become a part of that process but given our vast experience, we can also become influencers in regards to technology and standards that shall be demanded in the projects.
With regard to water metering, we are just making our first steps in the industry. We have already raised a lot of interest among potential partners in Europe and the Middle East through the innovative approach and we are waiting for the product to be certified, which is expected to happen at the end of summer 2020.
Despite the growing number of projects we are expecting from the B2B market segment, the aggressive pricing policy from our Chinese competitors makes it less and less attractive. Due to this, we are investing in B2C solutions where innovation plays the most important role.
The Innovative Minds at the Helm of ADD Grup
Alexei Lazarev: Alexei Lazarev, Co-founder, is the General Director of ADD Grup. At Add Grup, he manages the company with a focus on research and development of hardware and software for intelligent metering systems. Mr. Lazarev specializes in Theoretical Physics from the Moldova State University.
Elena Turanskaya: Elena Turanskaya, Co-founder, is the General Director of ADD Grup. She manages the company with a focus on the production of intelligent metering systems and sales to more than 30 countries in the smart metering market segment. Ms. Turanskaya has received her master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Newport International University.
“Now it is time to move to the Middle East and Latin America where the processes have just started and we are able to not only become a part of that process but given our vast experience, we can also become influencers in regards to technology and standards that shall be demanded in the projects.”