Improved Safety Standards Brings Better Foor SupportWed, 10/21/2015 - 11:25
Safety standards in mining sites have been improving since the Mexican mining industry opened its doors to increased foreign investment. According to CAMIMEX, 78 miningmetallurgical operations have been incorporated into the government’s Health and Safety in the Workplace Self-Regulation Program (PASST), 32 of which were also granted the government’s safety certificate. Nevertheless, Javier Prados González, Director General of Normet, states that some mines are still making use of tractors as opposed to specialized mining equipment. Not only does this equipment improve safety standards at mines, it also significantly reduces operating costs as they are designed to withstand wear and tear and thus reduce downtime. “When you are dealing with a machine that is specialized for a certain mining operation, the safety, technical, and efficiency aspects are significantly better,” says Prados González. “It might be cheaper for a mining operation to use tractors for particular operations, but the overall efficiency of the operation is reduced, meaning the company might have increased maintenance costs.”
The fact that large mining companies are now improving their safety standards presents a great opportunity for equipment manufacturers such as Normet. The Finnish company has three factories operating in Finland, Sweden, and Chile, and specializes in equipment for underground operations. The equipment is used for processes such as concrete spraying (shotcrete), charging, scaling, transporting, and lifting. It also recently acquired the boltproducing company Dynamic Rock Support, which won the prestigious Northern Lights Technology Award in 2013. This particular acquisition gave Normet the rights to the D-bolt, an innovative bolt which is able to extend its size by 20% without breaking, thus improving the rock support system. “Through our acquisitions, we have become specialists in the whole process of supporting and sustaining tunnels inside the mines,” shares Prados González. “We have changed the company’s strategies in order to show our clients that we are offering more than just machines and chemicals; we offer operational solutions.” The company also improved its product portfolio by acquiring TAM International, a producer of admixtures for concrete. This way, Normet not only manufactures the equipment for transporting and spraying the concrete, but also the concrete itself, making Normet a specialized company in tunnel technologies. While these acquisitions have increased the company’s ability to provide safety solutions for mining companies, the current state of the industry has forced many companies to opt for cheaper options. “Normet has been focused on quality for decades,” Prados González adds. “This dedication is one of our strong points, but at the same time, because quality technology implies higher prices, it has now become a weakness. Our customers know that they have to invest to meet safety standards, but investments have now become an issue for them.” Nevertheless, Normet still invests in its own service capabilities since it believes them to be crucial for its customers. While it has been forced to cut its budget in several areas, it has refrained from compromising on after-sales service. “That is why we moved our office to a bigger facility, enabling us to have a workshop and warehouse. We have hired more engineers and allocated 50% of our resources and manpower in order to fulfill our commitment,” adds Prados González.
“Normet’s dedication to service and the quality of our machines gives the company a competitive advantage, despite the recent concern over the price of mining equipment,” says Prados González. The company’s presence in 30 countries has helped to increase its overall awareness of the industry and enabled it to tackle the challenge of providing tailored equipment for various mining needs. In this specialization, the company can modify its machines to around 4,000 different configurations, depending on a customer’s exact needs. “It has become easy for us to manufacture equipment in a modular way, and then assemble it within an efficient delivery time, depending on the particular requirements of the customer,” says Prados González. This value is represented by the 80 Normet machines currently operating in Mexico, namely the concrete-spraying Alpha 20 and Alpha 30, and the concrete mixer Tornado from its Semmco product line. With these solutions, Normet covers the complete requirements of rock support, with the exception of the mine grid. With a wide network of professionals and ongoing communication with its customers, Normet aims to provide the best service available to the market. “Our team is very accessible and we are able to communicate with each other rather easily. We have an internal CRM which allows each local office to upload its experiences to our database, enabling other offices around the world to draw useful information from them.” This system is intended to provide an all-encompassing service for Normet’s customers, whether in Chile, Finland, or Mexico. According to Prados González, 2015 will be an interesting year for the company in Mexico, as it prepares to capitalize on the best investment opportunities it has spotted to date.