Local Steel Suppliers Service the Industry from ChihuahuaMon, 10/21/2013 - 12:12
The extreme conditions to which mining equipment is subjected during mineral extraction and processing demand the use of impact and wear-resistant steel in many applications. Mexico’s position as a top mining destination and an important steel producer enables local companies to offer high quality steel products to the country’s mining industry. This is the case of Chihuahua, one of Mexico’s largest states and the source of 12% of Mexico’s total output of metals and minerals. It is the country’s third most important state in terms of mineral production, only after Sonora and Zacatecas.
Two companies have emerged in Chihuahua over the past decades as the most important providers of finished steel products for the mining industry. One of them is Cofiasa, which has been operating for 42 years and now has over 300 transport units for the delivery of steel components to mine sites, a sales and support force of 450 employees, and presence in six states and 21 cities. Federico Macyshyn, Director General of Cofiasa, explains that the main elements of the strategy behind the company’s growth have been reliability and focus on service. “We do not only provide prompt delivery guarantees, but also top quality products, and credit or payment plans which make managing costs a lot easier for mining companies. This ability to fulfill our clients’ needs has allowed the company to be in the position to open four more branches in Queretaro in only a few months,” he explains.
Another notable company is Cominox, which services the mining industry through one of its three subsidiaries, Fall Metalmecánica. Daniel Hernández, General Manager of Cominox, explains that the subsidiary’s establishment in 2010 responded to a greater need in the mining industry for specially tailored, highly resistant products. “Our experience in other industries has furthered our capacity to provide steel components for the mining market. For example, our previous experience in conveyors for the food and beverage industry has allowed us to supply a large amount of specialized conveyor belts tailored for mining companies. They can resist tough working environments, and are equipped with sensors in order to keep track of the amount of ore and minerals that pass through them,” says Hernández.
Both companies have devised special ways to respond to mine operators’ needs. Cofiasa guarantees availability and quality through a good relationship with Mexico’s major steel producers and the constant monitoring of sales, inventory, and delivery in all of its branches through ERP and GPS systems. Cominox works together with clients to determine the most adequate features of the steel to be used in each application. The company designs products with different properties by customizing the Brinell grades, metallurgical processes, and mechanical engineering to the needs detected directly in the field. Moreover, an essential component that is present in both businesses is a great attention to quality. Cofiasa and Cominox offer products that meet international standards, and comply with a variety of both product and industry specific certifications. According to Macyshyn, Cofiasa’s added value is not only restricted to the company’s inventory management and on-time delivery policy, it also contributes to its clients’ finances by offering flexible payment plans and by providing consigned material. “We know our clients well, and we have come to know the timeframe for their projects; through experience we can therefore estimate the amount of material they will be using over the course of a project,” he says. “Therefore, it becomes cheaper for the client to buy bigger quantities, as well as being cheaper for Cofiasa to deliver. Additionally, it keeps our transportation vehicles available for other projects.”
Hernández adds that his company goes to great lengths in order to deliver increasingly specialized products and to train the human capital that is needed to do so. “We design and manufacture all of our products, and prepare all of the equipment for transportation at our workshop. Our application technicians receive five years of training. They are capable of assembling each product, checking its tolerance and supervising its performance,” he says. Both directors agree on the importance of generating trust through quality in order to become a provider of choice for mining companies. “Clients know of our commitment as a serious company, and once they have purchased from us in one city and moved to another location, they immediately seek to work with Cofiasa again, thanks to the trust they have in us,” Macyshyn concludes.