2020: A Strong Reminder of Importance of Structural IntegrityBy Pedro Alcalá | Thu, 01/21/2021 - 12:45
Q: What have been the most important changes for Miyamoto in 2020?
A: At an international level, the company grew 20 percent during 2020. New offices and markets were opened, including in Uzbekistan, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Sales have increased, although profitability has been affected, nonetheless. Despite cost-reduction measures, corners are being cut all over our markets and we have been forced to adapt to lower price environments. In regard to Mexico, the construction industry and its surrounding economy has been severely affected by the events of 2020. However, our international growth has been able to offset that contraction, while also giving the company a much larger platform in regard to the training of structural engineers through digital tools. We have approximately 450 engineers and architects in Mexico City alone, which is an increase from 200, and they are using our tools and our training to improve and optimize their response time in regard to seismic events. In addition, we have partnered with various universities and engineering associations. The company has also adapted quite successfully to the remote work modalities forced upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic. Projects were indeed suspended and even canceled throughout the year but we are now firmly set in a recovery phase in which we can make up the time we have lost with some of these projects.
Q: How has Miyamoto International’s CDMX office redesigned its approach to analysis and on-site inspection in the context of COVID-19?
A: Sanitary protocols had to be included in these operations to filter incoming personnel for each worksite. We managed and redistributed the number of employees per visit to maintain safe distances without impairing our work. Thankfully, construction is not considered a particularly high-risk activity in this sense because it does not take place frequently in entirely enclosed spaces. We are already used to using protective equipment, so we did not have to increase safety awareness. We test for the virus only when symptoms or suspicious circumstances appear. We have had contagions as a result of our personnel visiting other places external to their work but never from our worksites.
Q: What were some of the most interesting cases that you dealt with after the June 23 earthquake?
A: All seismic events that hit Mexico City serve as a reminder of the Earth’s dynamic nature. In regard to the June 23 earthquake, that reminder was further highlighted by the fact that the pandemic lockdown meant that we were all at home and experienced it with the family and friends. Prior to the earthquake, we had already published through our digital spaces a number of guidelines to take into account in the event of a trembler during lockdown. This included responding to questions such as how to properly evacuate residential spaces and communities and how to correctly put together a survival backpack that now also includes PPE. We elaborated on those guidelines and republished them recently with more illustrations and information. After the earthquake, the Mexico City government asked us to conduct damage evaluations of certain structures that could have been affected. We are not authorities ourselves but rather, we provide help to government authorities. The biggest support that we provide is through our training and protocols that we give to engineering associations and architect guilds, that for the most part, take a much more active role in undertaking these damage evaluations under the supervision of the Mexico City government.
Q: Have you considered opening other offices in Mexico, such as Oaxaca?
A: The company’s current growth plan definitely contemplates a number of office locations for future expansions in Mexico. Mexico City is an important location for us due to its seismic soil features that make it vulnerable to seismic damage. We are considering cities like Oaxaca or Puebla for new projects and for the evaluation of existing infrastructure. We have not yet opened offices in these cities but we expect to attend their needs remotely for the time being. We also depend on personnel and professionals who have been trained by us and apply the same protocols. For instance, in 2018, we trained 37 engineers in Oaxaca who ended up playing a pivotal role in attending emergencies during the June 23 earthquake. States like Queretaro, Guanajuato, Yucatan and cities such as Guadalajara and Nuevo Leon are also of great interest to us because of the large degree of vertical development that is taking place there, not to mention the development of industrial parks and stadiums. These locations are not known for their seismic activities; nevertheless, they still require the services of our experts to make sure they are not vulnerable to any eventuality.
Miyamoto International is an award-winning engineering firm specialized in seismic and structural engineering with a global network of offices that evaluates both new projects and existing buildings in terms of resilience and the identification of possible vulnerabilities to implement preventative measures.