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Applied Membranes Expands in U.S. Dairy Sector

Applied Membranes Inc. looks to expand unique membrane offerings in U.S. dairy sector as part of strategic growth

Applied Membranes Expands in the U.S. Dairy SectorBy Alyssa Mitchell, Cheese Market News
August 21, 2020

VISTA, Calif. — Applied Membranes Inc. — a Vista, California-based global manufacturer and distributor of commercial and residential reverse osmosis (RO) membranes, systems and components — is looking to expand its reach in the U.S. dairy sector.

Applied Membranes CEO Gil Dhawan founded the company in 1983 when he identified a need in the market for a supplier that could manufacture unique membranes and systems for companies of various sizes. At that time, Dhawan was working for major membrane companies and collaborating with Dr. Srinivasa Sourirajan, the co-inventor of the very first RO membrane. Dhawan did extensive pilot plant work in many applications and sold complete systems with applications including cheese whey fractionation in lactose and protein, juice concentration, maple sap concentration and gelatin concentration.

When Dhawan decided to create Applied Membranes Inc., RO technology was relatively new, and he saw a need for a company that could not only sell products but also train people on how to create these systems. He first conducted a series of educational seminars, and many of those attendees still are customers today. Customers also expressed an interest in building their own systems for their operations.

“The development of Applied Membranes Inc. really can be expressed as customer-driven,” Dhawan says. “We didn’t have a defined market at first. Whatever customers wanted at the time, I would develop the system, and we would provide the solutions, and this added to our expertise and different applications. There were not many companies like us in the business at the time.”

The company has been manufacturing RO systems, RO membranes and water filtration components under the Applied Membranes label for more than 35 years.
Since its inception, Applied Membranes has taken the approach of collaborating with customers to develop solutions, Dhawan adds.

“Working with the real process and treatment needs, we have supplied pilot plants and test support. We are the only company in the world that rolls its own microfiltration (MF),ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (NF) and RO membranes using the best membranes available. We custom design to meet the special needs for the specific application. We use different fabrics and feed channels to minimize membrane fouling and increase the useful life of the membrane elements.”
In addition to servicing its own customers, Applied Membranes also works with larger companies to develop these applications for those companies’ customers.
“Larger companies don’t have the resources to put toward developing some of these niche applications. That’s where we come in,” Dhawan says. “We can develop systems under other companies’ names so they can supply to their customers.”

He adds Applied Membranes also supplies heat sanitizable membranes for dialysis and back washable spiral wound elements.
“Our field experience in ultrahigh purity, beverage and food applications with RO,NF,UF and MF systems gives us unique insight into tailoring the spiral wound elements to perform at the optimum level,” Dhawan says.

While Applied Membranes has been supplying dairy membrane elements for more than five years, these elements have been exported to customers in Asia, Dhawan notes.
“We set up a sales office in Shanghai to service these customers, and they are very pleased with our quality and performance,” he says. “We wanted to do the same in the United States but needed a salesperson experienced in the U.S. market.”

With this in mind, Applied Membranes earlier this year added Rich Pankau to its team to help develop the U.S. market.
Dhawan notes this aligns with the company’s strategic growth plan as it recently moved into a new 156,000-square-foot building, much larger than its previous space, which will allow the company to focus on expanding specialty membranes.

Water purification and membrane water treatment are the basis of all membrane applications, he adds, noting, however, that each application has its own specific needs and interactions with each membrane.
“To be successful, we must understand all aspects of the application and industry requirements almost as well as the experts in that field,” Dhawan says. “We will combine our vast experience in other applications with the unique requirements of the dairy industry to create the best solution.

“Like in other markets we have developed, we are planning to go everywhere in the country where we establish a need for another supplier,” he adds. “We are going to be competitive and responsive to customer needs.” CMN


Reprinted with permission from the Aug. 21, 2020, edition of CHEESE MARKET NEWS®© Copyright 2020 Quarne Publishing LLC
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