Satellite and wireless communications play an integral role in the professional and, increasingly, personal lives of many Canadians. The industry is a catalyst for research and design and technical innovation, an area in which Canadian companies such as Apollo Microwaves have put Canadian manufacturing on the map as a key supplier for many international and national companies.
Montreal-based microwave communication components and sub-systems manufacturer Apollo Microwaves is a leading supplier for the telecommunication, satellite and wireless communications industries. Founded in 1980 by Nick Vouloumanos, CEO, the company’s stalwart focus on leading-edge research and development (R&D) and responsiveness to its clients’ needs has kept the company in a leading position in a highly competitive market for over 30 years.
Consumers are well versed in the uses of satellite and telecommunications, less so about the components and manufacturing behind it. Apollo Microwaves manufactures a variety of standard and custom-engineered microwave components and sub-systems for the satellite and wireless communication industries, for frequencies from 1 to 60 GHz, and for low or high power applications.
V.P. of Business Development, George Vouloumanos explains the company’s products succinctly. “In a satellite communication network, you have a satellite orbiting the earth, or in a stationary position above it, and a ground station,” he says. “The ground station will generate a signal that needs to be amplified to reach the satellite. The amplified signal will need to be filtered, sampled and combined with other signals, transported from point A to point B within the earth station, and sent up to the satellite in space via a satellite dish on earth. Apollo makes all the components between the amplifier and antenna that perform these functions, and we also make some components that go into the amplifier itself.
You can combine amplifiers and have redundancies between them; we make all e combining and switching systems for those applications as well. For the VSAT market (Very Small Aperture Terminals) such as you would see on a television broadcast truck, we make the antenna feed that is part of the satellite dish on top of these vehicles.”
In addition, Apollo Microwaves supplies the wireless infrastructure market, aerospace industry, as well as industrial and medical applications with industry-leading standard and custom products, designed to exact specifications.
With a dedicated R&D team, Apollo’s technological innovation is the core of the company’s capabilities. Apollo utilizes state-of-the-art design software, CNC machinery and stringent quality control, all integrated in one ISO 9001 and AS 9100 certified facility in Montreal, to ensure customers receive products at the leading edge of microwave technology.
“R&D allows us to constantly provide solutions for our customers because we are not in the business of inventing something and then asking ‘do you want to buy this’,” says Vouloumanos. “We design something based on customers’ requirements. They will come with specifications for a component or system and they will say we need a device to do these things and fit within this envelope, can you do it, and we have to go about designing and building what they need.
To this point, Vouloumanos says that the industry is constantly innovating. Components made only five years ago are very different from the ones being made now thanks to trends in communications towards higher and higher frequencies. “For us that means smaller and smaller components. When you have smaller components, the accuracy of these components becomes even more critical which is why you need very good manufacturing capabilities to support that,” he says. “So we have invested heavily in our manufacturing equipment, our ability to cut metal with state-of-the-art machines so that we can provide these high-quality parts. And both in terms of the machine itself and the automation of these machines, we have embraced automation as a means of keeping costs down and improving productivity.”
In 2013, Apollo received its AS 9100 certification, a standardized quality management system for the aerospace industry, as a prescient and strategic move to expand further into the aerospace industry. “We took the extra step to get aerospace approved because our components end up getting used in commercial and military airplanes, and we are also moving towards being able to provide space qualified products, and this is an added level of quality control that will facilitate it.” Recently, Apollo was qualified to provide certain components for space as well.
The province of Quebec has a strong support for R&D which makes it an ideal environment for Apollo. “That is what allows us to compete with US firms that don’t necessarily need to jump through the same hoops that we do to supply parts for certain communications programs” Other than that, Montreal is a city that provides some of the support structure that we need for what we do,” Vouloumanos continues. “There is a pool of talent of engineers and technicians for our specialized field, and the ability to retain those people. There is also a pool of talent for machine operators, and a fairly good infrastructure for delivering our parts from a relatively large hub. Relatively competitive overhead rates insofar as real estate is concerned, and competitive hydro costs—all those things combined together allow us to do what we do.
For over 30 years, Apollo has been delivering quality, value and reliability in microwave networks. The company’s innovations in R&D and dedication to providing products that set the benchmark for low loss, high power handling, and maximum isolation has placed the company as a leader in its industry.