We recently interviewed Mr. David Díez, the Managing Director of ERZIA. During his 15 years at ERZIA, he has held a number of positions; the last 8 years he has been Vice President of Aerospace & Defense. David holds a Masters in Engineering specializing in Telecommunications, with broad experience in engineering, management, and business development. In this interview, we talked with David to learn more about ERZIA.
Q. Can you give us a brief history of ERZIA?
David Diez: ERZIA was founded as an engineering firm by former Ericsson RF engineer, Luis García, in 2002. The company, whose mission was to supply components to the space market, won its first contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2003, followed by its first contract for flight hardware in 2005. In 2006, ERZIA launched its Satellite Communication Business Unit and commercialized the Space Business Unit beyond the ESA.
In 2011, ERZIA made a strategic decision to broaden its reach by capitalizing on its successes in the space project business. The company envisioned itself as a full-scale engineering and production company with its own line of products serving a broader, global RF and microwave market. With an orientation toward high reliability and performance, ERZIA succeeded in transforming its business from exclusively space project-oriented, to one that includes defense, aeronautics, telecom, and other markets. Today, ERZIA, headquartered in Santander, Spain, is recognized worldwide for the performance, reliability, and durability of our products.
Q. What Products and Solutions does ERZIA develop?
David Diez: Our core business is microwave and millimeter-wave hardware and we are constantly expanding our portfolio. Here are some recent highlights:
- We are intensively working on our modular amplifiers product line, releasing several new RF and microwave power amplifiers and low noise amplifiers (LNAs) every quarter. Our mission is to offer our customers reliable units with cutting-edge performance while optimizing costs and delivery times.
- We have announced a state-of-the-art LNA for Satcom Ka-Band applications, and X-Band GaN solid-state-power-amplifier (SSPA) with outstanding PRI to serve the newest approaches in RADAR systems. Currently, our COTS catalog has more than 150 models of power amplifiers, low noise amplifiers, drivers, wide band power amplifiers (WHPAs) from low RF frequencies to 100 GHz. And, of course, we also offer amplifiers for space applications, including traditional approaches and new space or “COTS for space”.
We are also expanding our activity in our integrated assembly line and improving internal quality controls to better serve our customers seeking custom solutions based on proven and reliable designs. Our most popular custom designs include:
- Frequency conversion modules with ultra-wideband operation (block or tuned) for Electronic Warfare applications, or narrow-band for telecommunications with a special focus on Satcom applications.
- Switching Matrices and Switching Filter Banks modules for which ERZIA has developed several techniques for high density switching and high rejection filtering using innovative approaches like Suspended Substrate Filtering.
- Complete RF Front Ends. Transmit (TX) and Receive (RX) chains that combine high power structures (and amplifiers if needed) with low noise reception chains.
- Beamformers, including multiple phase and amplitude shifting to feed phase-array based systems.
And, during 2021, we will introduce a new product line of filters offering suspended substrate technology. This proven technology is widely used in our custom designs, offering excellent insertion loss and rejection while minimizing size and weight.
Q. You said you are focusing on your core business; can you further elaborate on this?
David Diez: Yes, we are pursuing a horizontal growth strategy with our product lines. As mentioned, we are expanding our amplifiers catalog, we are introducing filters, and we might consider offering other modules like switches and synthesizers, or even devices in drop-in packages in the future. The prerequisite for all of our product development plans is to focus on applications that require high-performance and high reliability, which include integrated assemblies. But this is the highest level of integration we plan to do. It is not our intention to grow vertically, i.e., to deliver complete systems like final radios or radars. Is not our intention to compete with our customers but rather to remain focused on being a solid supplier of RF and microwave modules and sub-systems.
Q. What market segments do you cater to? Which is the largest segment for you?
David Diez: Our main markets per application are:
- Radar - With a special focus on airborne and defense markets.
- Electronic Warfare - We serve this market with our standard products and custom solutions with unique features relating to power/noise/bandwidth for spectrum management and dominance.
- Satcom - We have a very performant family of amplifiers and converters developed for this application, especially in X-Band, Ka-Bands and Q-Bands for airborne and military systems.
- Telecommunications - We cover this segment primarily with a wide variety of COTS.
- Laboratory Instruments. Serving their exigent requirements. There is an interesting niche in load-pull systems.
- Space Systems - Mostly science instruments with our RF amplifiers used as AOTF and AOM drivers, and more every day with COTS adapted in a new space approach for communications.
In terms of volume, the first three segments are the most consistent and the fastest growing for ERZIA.
Q. What percentage of your business is Custom vs Standard products? Do you have the catalog products in stock? Where can users buy these products? Do you have local representatives?
David Diez: At present, we have an overall sales mix of 45% standard vs 55% custom, growing toward standard products. We normally stock units with high demand p/ns, and we are continuously pushing to reduce our delivery times. This year we have reduced several p/n manufacturing times to just 2 weeks from purchase order. Customers can contact ERZIA directly in Spain and the USA, find our products via our global distributor (RFPD), and they can also contact us directly or through our worldwide representative network all of which can be found here: (Contact | Erzia).
Q. Where are your customers based - what is a rough % break up by continent?
David Diez: We have a strong presence in Europe with approximately 60%; Middle East/Asia is 25%; and a fast growing 15% in America.
Q. How do you differentiate yourself from other companies that develop Microwave and mm-Wave Products?
David Diez: We want every customer to see ERZIA as a highly-trusted partner and member of their team. Therefore, we offer
a) highly performant products
b) with cutting edge specs
c) and an optimized price
If you put these three points together and add a customer-focused culture with a continuous improvement philosophy, you’ll have the ERZIA promise to the microwave community.
Q. What are some recent space projects where ERZIA products have been used? Can you tell us a few?
David Diez: Here are some of our recent projects and we have many more to come in 2021/2022:
China’s Chang’e-5 successfully landed on the moon in December 2020 with two ERZIA Amplifiers on board in a major step towards obtaining the youngest lunar samples so far collected and delivering them to Earth.
The Chinese mission Tianwen-1 reached Mars orbit last February and will try to land a robot later this year. We have several RF amplifiers onboard the robot, which are part of the science instruments that will analyze the surface. We have also recently supplied several COTS for two different European commercial satellites and another model for a United Arab Emirates Satellite, all following the “new space” approach to technology development.
Q. We saw that you recently collaborated with Raytheon on a Radar Detector. Can you tell us more about this?
David Diez: Absolutely. We have been working with Raytheon Deutschland GmbH already for several years in this ELINT System. This project fits inside our Integrated Assemblies work line, where we design custom RF and Microwave subsystems to fit inside our customers products. In this case, we have worked in close collaboration with our colleagues in Raytheon to create a complete radiofrequency unit, which fits perfectly with their system. Their Advanced Radar Detector System (ARDS) is awesome. It has great performances and can be installed in a wide number of platforms, as the Predator MQ-9 where it has been validated. We have designed a very wide-band converter section with several channels, different filtering and selection options working at an unprecedented speed, and perfectly synchronized with the Antenna front-end and the Data Processing Unit. We expect to keep producing this unit for Raytheon for a number of years!
Q. What are some interesting products that ERZIA has recently developed?
David Diez: ERZIA is always working on innovations that solve future engineering challenges today. We have recently introduced new LNAs and HPAs for the Satcom Ka-Band market, and improved Radar X-Band High Power Amplifier performances. In addition, there are also new Wideband High-Power Amplifiers (WHPA), covering 6-18 GHz and 32-38 GHz with 10 W output power and 2-20 GHz (5 W and 20 W) and 22-43 GHz (2 W).
Q. With an unexpected global pandemic, the last year was challenging for many companies. How was 2020 for ERZIA?
David Diez: I don’t think anyone was prepared for a global pandemic, but we reacted fast in order to adapt our work methodologies, production strategies and to limit social contact to the minimum in order to have the least impact possible. We put strict internal control measures into effect quickly to protect our people. We had everything in place and effectively working on March 12th, 2020 and thanks to this early reaction, we did not stop our production one single day in 2020. In fact, 2020 was a record revenue year for ERZIA. By August, we produced and delivered more amplifiers than during all of 2019! Growth prospects for 2021 on a positive trend as well.
Q. What are ERZIA's plans for the next 3 years?
David Diez: We can summarize it in one word: Growth
Growth in terms of delivered products, sales and revenue numbers, new customer acquisition, and further collaboration with existing ones. Our growth plans include expanding our presence and activity in the U.S. market where we see tremendous growth potential for ERZIA. It is very important to us that this growth occurs in a controlled manner so that we don’t compromise our core values of reliability, durability and performance excellence combined with outstanding customer service.