Gustavo Menédez
Director of Sales and Marketing at Cribas y Productos Metálicos
Cribas y Productos Metálicos
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View from the Top

Committed to Customer Service Through Good and Bad

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 14:24

Q: What new trends have you identified in the industry and how are you adapting to these?
A: Previously, the Mexican market was flooded with suppliers offering the cheapest product. Our mentality has always been to provide the best-quality products and the industry has recognized the value in this. It has gotten to the point where the Mexican customer demands high quality and is not willing to settle for a low-cost, low-quality product. The Mexican mining industry has risen to the highest global standards and this is what we strive to provide.
We are competing in Mexico against local and global companies but we are also competing globally against these companies. We have started to export our products to the US and South America. The world has become so small that it has allowed Mexican companies to sell internationally. It has also allowed foreign companies to enter Mexico, meaning greater competition and higher standards. Customers now expect better components.
We have always adhered to the highest standards. If the materials are available in Mexico, we carry out quality tests and if they are not available, we import from abroad. We have strong relationships with suppliers to ensure the products are always up to specification and that we can ensure supply even with short notice. When importing, we have always tried to partner with companies that share the same values and commitment to quality. We also look for complementary partners, so mutual benefits are provided.
Q: Which of your products are the most in demand right now in Mexico?
A: We work in mining but we also work in aggregates, and around 50 percent of our demand comes in the form of wire cloth for the aggregates industry. This is a woven wire that is a very simple product. But for the mining industry, more complexity is required so generally our synthetic products tend to be more in demand. On the mining side, we used to sell all rubber screens but we saw that clients had different needs that required more innovative solutions so we began offering polyurethane screens. This product now accounts for about one-third of our mining sales. The industry is changing and we are changing with it.
Q: How do you work with your clients to develop the most cutting-edge technology?
A: We work in a mutually beneficial way with our clients. While we try to provide the most innovative products, we are not on the ground at a mine site every day, so certain elements may not be visible at first glance. This is why we appreciate our client feedback and we try to incorporate their requirements into the future development of our products. We have some very demanding clients, such as Grupo Acerero del Norte in Coahuila and Minera Media Luna in Guerrero, and our relationships help us to incorporate into our products the things that our clients really need.
To remain at the forefront of technological innovation we have always been characterized by seeking the best material options in the market, both for our manufacturing process and the returns to our clients. We have created synergies with our suppliers in which our feedback has helped them improve their offering, achieving the optimum chemical formulas for abrasion. We have also been certified with the top anti-wear companies, so they endorse our processes and train us in the best practices for processing and materials innovation.
Q: What are the biggest challenges operators face when it comes to mineral processing?
A: I think one of the biggest challenges is specifications, since they change over time with improvements in the process and availability of materials. At first, companies wanted a certain grain sizing for the ores but as technology changed, they needed purer, finer materials. The screening size has been a challenge for us because, previously we could be precise up to 1/200th of an inch, but regulations now demand precision to 1/2000th of an inch. We have been adapting to the industry’s evolution alongside our customers.
Mining is also becoming more difficult. For example, in coal mining, it used to be possible to skim from the surface and the quality of the coal would be very good. But now, as resources are becoming exhausted, it is necessary to drill further down and, even at depth, the product can be half coal, half ash. This is why screening products are ever more important because costs are becoming higher and we are able to ensure much more efficient processes. I predict that, in the years to come, the industry will continue to demand increasingly high-precision screens and those offered by Cribas are engineered to meet those requirements. We focus on our value proposition so we can anticipate client needs and provide high-quality products.
The industry is changing and it will shift from buying generic materials to purchasing products specifically designed with engineering expertise. The days of buying whatever the supplier had available are over and clients are becoming more demanding. The industry has entered the era of tailor-made solutions and optimum cost strategies. While mining processes remain the same in essence, the industry has also improved its processes to yield better life quality to its people. Operators are constantly seeking for more efficient processes and better returns.
Q: What are your predictions for the industry in the coming years given the low level of exploration activity?
A: This is a complicated year for exploration. It is a transition period for exploration whereby companies with projects at the exploration stage are waiting to see what happens in terms of regulations and metals prices. Mining has been growing in Mexico and, although it has downcycles during which some mines are shut down, the bad times do not tend to last long. That allows us to think ahead and prepare for the mines re-opening. At times, a mine can be slow to make payments but this has not deterred us, and we continue to work as their supplier because we know the industry due to our long experience. We know that after bad times come good times, and our customers know that when business is back up and running, we will still be by their side.
Q: What is Cribas’ main differentiator and added value?
A: One of our main differentiators is that we fabricate all the sieving components. This gives us a competitive advantage as each application requires a different material. It is not possible to only offer polyurethane or wire. To have such a diverse offering is fundamental in sieving but there are only a few companies that offer it. Our goal is not to be the best company in the market but the best company for our clients. Our main responsibility is to our customers and we are growing to provide a better service and in more locations.