Wind Industry Drives Crane DemandWed, 02/19/2014 - 11:04
Auriga, a Mexican company operating in Queretaro, Mexico City, and Villahermosa, has carved a niche for itself by providing transportation and crane leasing services, as well as selling heavy machinery, to renewable energy project developers. “Our equipment’s capacity ranges from 15 to 800 tonnes, and we also provide specialized transport,” said Ricardo Pérez-Gil, Director General of Auriga, explaining that the company has recently focused its business on the wind sector. Five years ago, Auriga sensed a need for high capacity cranes in the wind power industry and made a large investment in the sector, including renewing and updating its equipment portfolio.
Prior to branching out into the wind sector, Auriga had a strong background serving a number of industries, allowing it to best identify the technologies needed by developers, purchasing machinery such as a 600-tonne capacity crane commonly used to erect wind turbines. “We also bought a specialized truck for the transportation of wind turbines, which offers the added advantage of a narrower crawler track. This feature allows easier access to the wind farm, as this truck does not need the wide roads that a crane would,” Pérez-Gil explains. “Auriga’s engineering department makes use of specialized software to plan out all technical maneuvers in detail, prior to carrying them out. Coupled with its focus on renewing equipment, this pre-planned approach helps to ensure optimal performance and safety conditions for the machinery. They are equipped with the latest technologies, such as anemometers which measure wind speed and stop the machines if they detect winds that are too strong for safe operation,” Pérez-Gil explains.
Pérez-Gil also insists that the machinery component of Auriga is complemented by a strong focus on developing the human side of the business through training and retaining staff. “Many employees have been with us for 20 years and are constantly receiving training,” says Pérez- Gil. “Our cranes supplier also provides us with specialized training, which we pass on to operators and laborers.” Auriga’s commitment to safety and security has helped it to build and maintain power plants across the country. In 2013, the company finished work on the construction of a combined cycle power plant for Grupo Mexico. But a more common task for Auriga is to assist with plant maintenance for companies such as Siemens, Iberdrola and Mitsubishi.
“We have worked on eight wind farms,” said Pérez-Gil. “Several Spanish companies have hired us for transportation of equipment, usually from Veracruz or Mexico to Oaxaca. We hauled and installed towers for leaders in the sector, such as Gamesa, Acciona, Iberdrola, Vestas, and Siemens,” he adds. Yet the challenges that threaten the growing wind energy industry are also barriers to growth for Auriga itself, with social problems being chief among them. “They are our clients’ problems,” said Pérez-Gil, “but they extend to us as we face problems in terms of coordinating logistics. For example, members of ejidos and other communities have their hair stand on end when they see a big piece of machinery arrive.” In addition, he explains that the procedures imposed by the government have also stifled industry growth. “Regulation about the construction of wind farms is not well defined, which ultimately costs us, in terms of time and money. Some projects get furloughed or suffer major modifications due to regulatory factors,” he said.
Auriga’s positive streak in the wind sector has given the company confidence that continued investment in this arm of the business will pay off in the end. “We have refrained from committing equipment to other large scale construction projects in expectation of a wind farm boom,” Pérez-Gil shares. “When this boom arrives, Mexico will need many more cranes than the country currently has available.”