Emphasizing Measurement in Fuel DistributionMon, 10/21/2013 - 11:50
Mining companies tend to be big consumers of diesel, which they use to fuel their vehicles and machinery, as well as their electricity generators. Whilst large mining companies such as Grupo Peñoles and Grupo Mexico could source their diesel directly from Pemex, for the sake of practicality they usually choose to outsource the management of this process to a third party. “Anybody can buy directly from Pemex, but their business is mining, not diesel procurement, so they do not want to be dealing with this side of things. What mining companies want is to reduce their concerns, and our people are involved in the entire fuel supply process, 24 hours a day,” explains Alejandro Noriega, Director General of CORSAN Energéticos, a distributor of diesel based in Mexico City. The company has more than 80 years of experience working with the oil and gas industry, and today has a 250 strong fleet of distribution trucks. It places great emphasis on the importance of accuracy and controls in the service that it provides. “We offer the complete control system and measure every centiliter that goes into and out of our trucks,” says Jorge Basualdo, CORSAN’s former Business Development Director. “Our job is to be in charge of the logistics of diesel distribution every day. We also check the levels of the tanks, and as soon as we see that they need to be refilled we immediately send new cargo.”
In order to fulfill these duties and maintain precision and accuracy the company relies heavily on the use of new technologies. This varies from having a metal ring attached to the pump pistols, meaning that the pump only works if the ring and the slot match, to allocating a tag number to measure exactly how many liters of fuel are being delivered on each job. The company’s trucks are also monitored via GPS, so that it knows exactly where its cargo is and when delivery can be expected. All of this information is kept in a central database. “All of this information is being updated in real time in our systems; through these processes we have complete control over the amount of diesel we are storing and transporting, as well as the efficiency of our distribution,” explains Basualdo. “Our database is updated every 10 seconds, and in case anything goes wrong we have backup strategies and alarms to notify our technicians and clients,” adds Noriega. An example of the company’s technology can be found in the work it has done for the Sonora based gold mining company Timmins Gold. The company had its own tanks before outsourcing this activity to CORSAN, which now uses its trucks to deliver the company’s diesel requirements. The trucks have a double storage tank, which means that any leakage from the first tank will be caught by the second. CORSAN has also provided Timmins Gold with trucks that have pumps on each side, making the refill process quicker and more efficient. The aim of this technology and these processes, as well as the company’s timetables, safety procedures, environmental procedures, and fire protection technology, is to help the company to meet its customers’ requirements as promptly and efficiently as possible. “By integrating all this technology we can tailor the service to the customer’s needs. We adjust our products for their convenience, in terms of the types of tanks, pumps, and fuel we use, as well as being able to provide additional storage for emergencies,” says Noriega.
The different features of CORSAN’s service also allow the company to be better organized and to navigate the logistical challenges of delivering fuel throughout Mexico. “Our operators sometimes stumble upon unfinished roads or inhospitable environments, but fortunately we can rely on our global positioning systems and our real time database, all of which provides us with tighter control. For instance, if there is a problem at the Hermosillo terminal we will bring fuel from Guadalajara at our own expense,” says Noriega. “Every mine is a challenge; the degree depends on its location and operations. We do not want our customers running low on product, so we always set up an alternative storage tank for electricity generation. In short, we provide complete solutions for our clients,” adds Basualdo.
One area that the company is particularly focused on is improving the security measures in its systems and processes, in particular to avoid the common problem of fuel theft. “We have developed strategies to stop fuel theft,” says Noriega. “One such strategy is to color the diesel so that if it gets stolen no one will buy it.” For Noriega, one way of reducing the problem would be for management teams to be well informed about where they source their diesel from. “It is important to show them that if they buy from a company that is offering a discounted price, it is possible that the source of the fuel is not legitimate, and perhaps the quality of the fuel is not as good. There are a lot of stolen products on the market nowadays; in the past people were buying in good faith, but today that is not possible and one needs to be sure of where the product is coming from. This is a very common issue in Mexico. The price of diesel includes a distribution fee, so whenever one is getting lower rates for the same product something definitely is not right,” he warns.