Mexican Modular Spaces Dwarfing the US CompetitionWed, 10/21/2015 - 17:44
With human capital at the forefront of many mining companies’ considerations, supplying personnel with comfortable and convenient spaces for living, working, and recuperating are essential for maintaining high levels of health, happiness, and morale. With over 20 years’ experience in this field, Commosa has become the leading manufacturer of mobile and modular spaces in Mexico. Now boasting a total of around 13,000 modules built, the company expects its production and services to go from strength to strength in the coming years, as Roberto Reyes, Director General of Commosa explains, “There are around 15,000 active modules in Mexico today, so we definitely hold a brand advantage over our competitors. One of our many assets is the ability to produce 200 units every month, which is crucial, because if you do not have the production capacity, you cannot grow.”
As well as attributing the company’s success to its manufacturing capability, Reyes points out that the quality of Commosa’s products allows for increased competitiveness in maintenance costs. The modules themselves are built with lightweight, durable materials, while the floors are constructed from maintenance-free, anti-skid surfaces. Services such as a one-year guarantee for any location in Mexico and a quick response time when an accident occurs, add to the attractiveness of Commosa from a customer perspective. Even so, the company is not without its fair share of challenges in the mining industry. “We would like our network of clients to have a better understanding of how to manage a project, as well as of the logistics involved,” explains Reyes. “It is a massive undertaking to set up 100 connected modules in an inhospitable place on a very tight deadline. Our customers are very demanding, but we always provide them with realistic timelines and a solid budget, which obliges us to deliver on our promises.”
Surprisingly, even with such a substantial reach in Mexico, the bulk of the company’s client base comes from the US. According to Reyes, the company’s product is fully certified and complies with US regulations. “Our competitors have developed their own solutions, but due to the lack of regulations, we often see poor quality products in Mexico,” states Reyes. “By following all the relevant construction specifications laid out by the US, we can focus on our commitment to innovation and cost-saving benefits for our customers.” The fact that Commosa sells its products to distributors presents an additional advantage for the company. This business practice allows the company to focus on its national and international manufacturing, while it delegates the responsibilities of dealing with end users to its network of finance companies, leaving its competitors in the rearview mirror. In Mexico, four Caterpillar distributors also commercialize Commosa’s products, namely Tracsa, Maqsa, Matco, and Madisa, significantly boosting the reach and market awareness of the company’s brand.
Although it is on home turf, Commosa is facing many competitors coming from outside Mexico, specifically from Texas. In this region, as well as local competitors all vying for a share of its business, a number of international rivals have cropped up. However, Commosa can count on world-class customers such as General Electric and Williams Scotsman. Reyes remains unperturbed, crediting his company’s ability to inform its clients of potential projects as the reason for customer loyalty. “We always strive to be aware of any major projects that may require our products,” he explains. “In many cases, the projects come directly to us, and not through our network. However, these projects are often very large, and providing modules to projects on such a scale is not something that everyone can manage. Sometimes, depending on the number of units they have in stock, we will divide the project among several companies in order to provide a faster response for the customer.”
To cover its overall demand in Mexico, Commosa has one plant in Monterrey to supply the northern region, and one in Queretaro to cover the Bajio, the Federal District, and the southeast. Since the Queretaro plant opened four years ago, its focus has been on the oil and gas sector, but the Monterrey plant has focused on serving the mining states of Zacatecas, Durango, Chihuahua, and Sonora. Reyes offers some insight into the challenging aspect of dealing with some of the more remote and unforgiving areas within these regions. “Mexico is a big country, where climates are vastly different, and so it is difficult to design a module that works for everyone,” he explains. “The highly humid environment of the southeastern region, in contrast to the northern region, where the climate is dry, is just one of the challenges we have faced. We have tried to create a unique product for everyone, requiring only a slight modification of materials to adapt it to different conditions, especially with insulation. Our innovations in fiberglass are now used for most materials inside the module due to its low maintenance requirement. Last year, we released 8x38 foot modules audited by ergonomics specialists. This led to the creation of an updated 8x38 model and the new 10x38. The larger model was the result of a study, which showed that collisions were more likely in its 8-foot counterpart. In mining areas, where land is broader, this wider model is appropriate, but in traditional farming areas where roads are narrow and irregular, our 8-foot wide model still gets the job done.”
In the modular space market, 80% of the business comes from rentals. Reyes states that the company has managed to manufacture a product that is 15% cheaper than its rival rental units, without compromising on a high level of quality and low maintenance costs. By complimenting its already reputable offerings with this option, Reyes hopes to facilitate the next stage of Commosa’s success story in Mexico.