Mario Jiménez
Jica Construcciones

Time is of the Essence, and That Can Be a Problem

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 10:48

Time can be both a luxury and a burden. For the companies building the country’s infrastructure, it is more a burden, especially when dealing with the government, says Mario Jiménez, Architect at Jica Construcciones. Federal administrations have short six-year windows to reap results, putting pressure on companies. Time, he says, is one of the largest hurdles in Mexico. Jiménez points to social infrastructure as an example. The government has put a priority on universal healthcare and it is now one of the industry’s fastest growing sectors. “Hospital projects take time and these become increasingly complex when factoring in administration changes,” he says, adding that when governments look ahead, they can get it right.

“Puebla invests the most in health and in general infrastructure such as streets, highways, parks and offices,” he says. “It develops large hospitals with massive budget allocations. Document processing is quicker and can be completed in specific integrated service centers. People no longer have to jump from agency to agency because the government is more strategically organized.”

Jica Constucciones has been successful in bidding rounds for hospital projects and Jiménez says companies wanting to emulate that success must have diversified and related portfolios, as these are the most likely to win projects like hospitals. “They must carefully check the requirements of each tender to avoid wasting time,” he says. “General construction companies without specialties typically seek alliances with other businesses that can help them fill their expertise gaps. When it comes to public projects, almost 99 percent of the developments we solicit are awarded to our company.” Synergy is a priority when it comes to complex projects like hospitals to ensure the creation of a manageable structure. “Even though we have experience with design and construction, the demands we receive from doctors are a priority because they will be responsible for managing operations,” he says. Jica maintains a close relationship with the medical team and is willing to make adjustments as far as normativity allows.

The firm has a wide portfolio that does not nestle into a particular niche. “We cannot afford to only focus on hospitals as they are not frequently requested,” says Jiménez. “Our experience includes the construction of schools in Nuevo Leon, Michoacan and Morelos but we are interested in all types of construction projects. Our division that involves design, 3+2, also offers growth opportunities but only for particular clients.”

The Ciudad Modelo project being carried out by Audi in Puebla is a good example of the company’s scope. This is a five-year project with the objective of building 20,000 houses on 480ha for new Audi employees. Jica is in charge of the first phase that involves 160ha. The auto company has a responsibility to take care of the massive number of people its plant will attract but the nearest municipality does not have the capacity to offer enough basic services, Jiménez says. “If each person is part of a four-person family, an estimated influx of 80,000 people is expected to enter in a five-year period,” he says. “This is an incredibly short amount of time considering that areas usually have several decades to adapt to these numbers.” Ciudad Modelo implies a source of employment, services and sustainable technology. Sustainability is important as it will help maximize the city’s consumption habits. LED technology and water treatment plants are being considered to recycle limited resources as much as possible. “The water used by nearby houses, hotels and commerce will be purified,” he says. “Ciudad Modelo will be one of the first cities to have all basic services and integrated sustainable development.”

Despite federal budget cuts Jiménez says the country’s infrastructure requirements will expand, bolstering the need for companies with a long resume. “Overall, the Mexican industry requires companies that have experience and a willingness to grow,” he says. “We perceive a large demand for practical and experienced private companies as the government does not have the budget or enough capacity to fill every infrastructure gap.” The architect points out that Jica’s history with hospitals is an advantage because they are some of the most complicated projects of the industry. “People in the industry know that any company that is able to complete a hospital project has valuable experience. This gives us prestige and makes it easier to win bidding rounds,” he says.