Interview with Neil Durham, CEO of Wagtech Projects (Thatcham, UK)

Established in 1990, Wagtech Projects has built a strong global reputation for providing scientists, engineers and technicians engaged in research, education and industry a complete project  management service worldwide, supplying state of the art equipment with installation, commissioning, product training and after sales service and support.

Neil Durham is the founder and CEO of Wagtech Projects, with over 30 years of experience in the business. Today we have the pleasure to interview him on his partnership with Nowcast.

  1. Dear Neil, can you briefly describe the business of Wagtech and your main focus area?

Thank you that is an interesting question, we consider ourselves manufacturers and solution providers in the field of portable waste water analysis, environmental testing, agronomy, hydromet solutions as well as materials testing, through products and consulting services. We offer a range of mobile laboratories used to validate testing at the source. Our ASMS platform allows customers to receive and send real time results while still being able to preserving the integrity of the data.

Our success has been driven by customers, customer service and our growth strategies, through regional offices, stocking centres, local distributors and sales agents that are trained to carry installations, commissioning, product training and after sales service and support. This allows us to supply large numbers of products, reagents and consumables within hours of an order being placed.

  1. Wagtech and Nowcast have started out with a very successful UNDP-project in Malawi 2019. May we ask you to give just a short description of the project from your perspective?

Malawi’s death rate by lightning is estimated to be 16 times  higher than that of other countries in southern Africa. Therefore, a lightning detection technology capable of delivering real-time insights into thunderstorm activities was required, within the scope of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) “Saving Lives and Protecting Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Malawi”. Scaling up the use of modernized climate information and early warning systems, they generated a procurement idea as a way of mitigating this problem. With our presence in Malawi through our local office, I approached Nowcast GmbH as part of the UBIMET Group, to jointly work together to provide the required services for supply and installation of a lightning detection system in Malawi.

The lightning detection software was mainly to provide sensor met-data management, real-time lightning data collection and processing, assimilation, validation, location, long term activation, product generation and redistribution, up to the weather monitoring, nowcasting, detection of hazardous situations and early warnings.

  1. What else was important for the Malawi Lightning detection project? 

Factory training conducted at the Nowcast premises for nominated officers of the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS- Malawi) so as to equip them with the skills on how to read and interpret the system.

The system provides the following products:

  • Lightning data for the individual flashes
  • Lightning data statistics for the particular station / region
  • Storm cells data as a result of the raw lightning data clustering
  • Location of individual strokes in time and space
  • Storm cells in form of the georeferenced polygons
  • Storm cell nowcasting
  • Tracking in real time
  • After sales service, technical support
  1. When collaborating with industry partners, what is most important for you? 

Most important is the product and industry knowledge. The partners should be leaders in their field with great after sales service and reliable and fast technical support.

However, we are looking for partners that consider joint venture projects as important as selling to direct end users: Knowing that people buy from people and want to be treated right.

  1. Among other parts of the world, Wagtech has extensive experience all over Africa? What do you like most about your work there?

Africa is the world’s second-largest continent, it covers 6% of the earth’s total surface area with 1.3 billion people, and it accounts for about 16% of the world’s human population.

Africa has a wide range of natural resources, the continent is the least wealthy per capita, mostly due to geographic impediments, undemocratic rules and deleterious policies. Despite this low concentration of wealth, recent economic expansion and the large and young population: Africa is an important economic market in the broader global context.

With 34 countries that make up the African continent, population in 2018 at 1.3 Billion, 2000 known native languages, Africa is such a manifold, beautiful and great place to be.

What I personally love most about Africa: The diversity of people, friendliness, the hunger to learn, to explore and the willingness for personal growth. The people in all countries that we visit, make me want to come back and share my experiences – I love Africa! 

  1. Looking back to the on-going partnership with Nowcast, how would you best describe the collaboration so far?

Fantastic! Not only are we representing a world leader in lightning detection, we also have a great relationship in which all projects are dealt with on its own merits. Each project is as important to Nowcast as it is to Wagtech Projects. Great team work.

Thank you, Neil! Let’s keep growing together with our mutual friends and customers!

Absolutely! That’s the spirit of this partnership with Nowcast.