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Analysis

Designing Drills to Minimize Cost and Optimize Safety

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 22:29

As technology advances, success for a drilling company becomes more and more related to being able to do more for the customer with less. “One of the biggest demands in today’s market is to obtain bigger samples and drill deeper holes with more compact technologies,” says Marcos Loya Farfán, Operations Director of Tecmin Servicios. “New, more challenging pieces of land are being explored, and companies want to be able to move their equipment more easily and more safely. Our main focus is on productivity: to do more with less. Tecmin Servicios develops HQ dimension drills that allow the drilling of deeper holes, while always continuing to develop reliable, simple to use equipment  at the best price.” With these objectives in mind Tecmin Servicios both manufactures its own drills and conducts drilling for its customers. “Our engineering team is now working to make the first design for an underground drill smaller whilst improving its performance. We want to respond to our clients’ needs with innovative technology at a competitive price,” explains Loya Farfán. Because the company constructs its own drills it is not only able to develop the machines according to general market demand, but also adapt them according to the requirements on each drilling project. “We want to provide simplicity in both the use and maintenance of the machinery, so the technology is simple. Therefore, spare parts are available anywhere in Mexico to avoid having the drills on standby,” says Loya Farfán. Avoiding the breakdown of the machines is one of the company’s key objectives, because of the cost implications for its clients. Tecmin has specific maintenance procedures and a series of checklists that help to identify which parts of the machine are malfunctioning, and subsequently decide which spare part is required.

Tecmin Servicios takes the safety performance of both its machinery and its staff extremely seriously. “In 15 years Tecmin Servicios has not had any fatalities,” says Loya Farfán. An important part of the company’s increasing emphasis on safety comes in the form of its “Safe Meters” campaign, through which the company works with its clients to improve safety standards, raise awareness about safety issues, and eliminate potential accidents during the diamond drilling process.

Tecmin Servicios’ personnel play an extremely important role in delivering in all of these areas, from safety to productivity. To improve performance, operators and supervisors take a two month training course with content delivered through a mixture of online and in-house sessions. “The strategy today is people. Through this course we train the best project supervisors that are capable of managing the whole job, from the technological side to the human resources side,” says Loya Farfán. Having well trained staff is essential to delivering successful projects, both on an operational and a financial level. “Drilling is very complicated and expensive. Operators must be well trained in order to recover the minerals, since 50% of the operation comes down to the handling of the equipment, or the experience of the staff,” he adds. For Loya Farfán, the other 50% comes down to the way in which the assets are managed, and that is where the in-house training program is so important. “This is something new, and we want to move it forwards, perhaps by contacting local universities to propose internships, or collaborating with their technological and research services in order to figure out the best way, for example, to comply with any possible stricter environmental regulations.”

The investment that Tecmin Servicios is making in its staff is also a positive step for an industry that has seen heavy foreign influence. “All of our staff is Mexican; we brought in Canadians previously, but not anymore. We are bringing in people from Chile and Peru to introduce new practices if needed, but we intend to continue creating an expert technology base here in Mexico,” says Loya Farfán. He also believes that the Mexican workforce has a lot of knowledge and experience that can be shared with its counterparts elsewhere in the Americas. “South American drillers have been sharing lots of drilling expertise, but they have actually also learned a lot from our Mexican drillers, given that the environmental requirements in Mexico are quite stringent,” he says. Tecmin Servicios has the ambition to expand into Latin America, and to increase the distribution of its own equipment, both in Mexico and further afield. “We ultimately want to export the drills that we manufacture all over the world, and it is a very exciting moment for our company. We are ready to seize other markets,” says Loya Farfán.