Walk into Fragrance Delivery Technologies (FDT), the inventor of Oxy-Gen Powered Technology in Dubai, and you will be left with no doubt that this company is serious about delivering fragrances effectively.
I recently met with Hydros Jassem, CEO, FDT to talk about the company, which develops and manufactures next generation odour control/air freshening systems set up in the city, and about the latest products that they intend to introduce in the coming months. Some excerpts…
FDT has been a pioneer on many fronts – one of them being the fact that it is the only company to introduce a new technology consumer product to the global market from Dubai, UAE. What inspired this move and how has the journey been?
We have been dealing with air fresheners for a while now. Aerosol technology that was initially developed in the 1940s has not changed much over the last 20 years, and we realised that there is a gap in the market in terms of a product that ticks all the right boxes for an efficient, continuous and safe fragrance delivery system.
As a result, we started working on alternate technologies that have been proven in another industry and could be adapted to ours. The technology that we finally adopted is one that is originally used in pharmaceuticals to deliver medicines to humans and animals.
Using very little power from two alkaline AA batteries, the device using this technology generates Oxygen– consistently and accurately. This Oxygen is in turn used to deliver fragrance effectively. As a result, unlike most other products, we can guarantee that it will work for the specified period or life of the cartridge.
How challenging was it to set up a manufacturing facility in this region?
In terms of setting up a company in Dubai – it’s been a breeze. As long as one complies with the rules and regulations, setting up a manufacturing business here is not a challenge. What is a challenge, however, is the nature of the economy – it is more of a trade and logistics centre and is still evolving into a city geared for manufacturing. For instance, some of our very critical components, machineries, spares and ingredients are not available locally.
Nevertheless, we have fared pretty well. Our vision is to create a company that is the leader in the odour control systems. We develop our products keeping our customer in mind and follow our 5-factor principles. The product must be Effective, Economical, Reliable, Safe, Eco-Friendly and this is our USP. Our products are manufactured such that they offer more than the other products at the same price.
Can you elaborate more on the technology and green features?
All our cartridges are recyclable and have no metal parts or batteries. The cartridges are commodity plastic that have no residue at the end of the cartridge life, be it 30, 60 or 90 days. The dispenser does need two AA alkaline batteries, which last for 1-2 years depending on the usage. In fact, our product has been assessed and verified for emissions and energy consumption and has a Carbon Footprint Accreditation.
The technology has a two-pronged approach – it not only dispenses a fresh fragrance continuously and non-stop but also eliminates any malodours. Our fragrances are pure oils that comply with all global fragrance regulations. We’ve worked with fragrance companies to come up with a collection of over 30 fragrances. We also customise fragrances for large clients requiring something specific. From a spa in Spain, to a bank in South Africa, a hotel in Hong Kong and a distribution company in the US – we’ve worked on hundreds of fragrances to come up with the perfect one.
Our products are mostly used in washrooms, corridors, meeting rooms, offices and other small to medium enclosed spaces. Our proprietary Neutra-lox technology is specifically made to eliminate the smell of urine, faeces, body odour, tobacco, pet malodours, mould & mildew, kitchen smells, etc., without depreciating the fragrance. The technology allows for the malodourous molecule to be identified – it then surrounds the molecule and neutralises it.
While the concept of malodour elimination is commonly used, the Neutra-lox technology is rather new and is a formulation of the fragrance oil itself. As a result, we have also launched a new urinal screen with the two-pronged approach and this, combined with our regular fragrance delivery system, makes for a more fresh smelling facility.
What are the challenges in the global market?
Each market has its own unique challenges – we now sell in every continent, in over 40 countries worldwide. We have about 10 distributors in the UAE and over 100 distributors across the world. And, we are constantly adding more countries and distributors to our list.
Some of the challenges we face are the way the market functions – some end users work with service companies, others with distributors that work directly with end users. Getting the product to the end user is a challenge because we have to go through a learning process, especially in terms of fragrance preferences in each market. We have to carry out a lot of research, understand the culture and rely heavily on our partners in the country we are working in.
Sometimes, the results are quite surprising – for instance, we’ve found that customers in the North Europe have a larger preference for a fragrance called Soothe versus our Middle East customers, who we initially created the fragrance for. Choosing the right partner is quite a lengthy process. Our wavelengths and requirements must match. At the end of the day, our aim is to ensure that our ideal partner conveys the message about the product in the best possible way to the end consumer.
The regulations are also changing, which we welcome. We see a huge change in the market now. A lot of fragrances use ingredients that are not suitable for human beings and the environment, but regulations have now come in place to dictate what ingredients cannot be used. Disposal of aerosol cans are also being regulated in many countries like in the UK. Apart from this, strict regulations are also being put in place in Europe for the size of spray particles in the air – usually these particles should be large enough to not be absorbable by the lungs – however, nowadays, several companies have been using finer, nano spray particles that can be absorbed by the lungs and in turn can cause health issues. Finally, air fresheners are becoming such a commodity now, with increased awareness from the end consumer. You would rarely see a metered air freshener dispenser in a store 10 years ago!
What is your opinion of the global air-freshener market?
The market is growing at a steady pace. There haven’t been any new exciting technologies yet; that’s not for the lack of trying – several companies have tried – and failed – to introduce new products, which have not worked. It takes a long time to develop a product; we took seven years to develop our first one, and we have been working for the last three and half years on our new product “Oxygen-Pro”.
What are your future plans?
VIVA!e has been our pilot product for quite a while now and has been extremely successful. We are now preparing to launch our new product in September, the Oxygen- Pro, which we believe will be the world’s best odour control system. Oxygen-Pro is a completely new product with updated features and advancements over VIVA!e. The cartridges are extremely effective and economical and is the ideal product for customers looking to replace aerosol systems.
Apart from new fragrances in the Oxygen-Pro range we are also introducing two new specific odour eliminators. One is a new cartridge with a concentrated form of our proprietary Neutra-lox malodour technology with just a hint of fragrance - most ideal for facilities like healthcare centres, clinics and nursing homes where odour elimination is a challenge in areas surrounding patients. 'Kleer' is a 100% natural plant-oil based malodour eliminator, which is scientifically proven to eliminate ‘any and all malodours' in areas like garbage rooms etc. These cartridges will be used in our new Oxygen-Pro delivery system, an extremely easy-to-use, plug-andplay device. And there is lots more to come from the FDT family. We are working on two new systems that we plan to introduce in the next year, one of which will be the world’s first smart phone enabled continuous air care system - the ‘Oxygen-Smart’!